THE music business can be a fickle mistress, sometimes tempting burgeoning bands and having them believe that all they’d been chasing is at their fingertips before callously pulling it from their grasp. Due to this harsh treatment that many bands endure, it’s always truly refreshing to hear of a bona fide success story, one that reaffirms the belief that the cream rises to the top and those bands that are willing to burden themselves in order to make up ground will inevitably achieve all that they desire.
This has certainly been the case for Eliza and The Bear, a London based outfit that have toiled since 2011 and are now enjoying the fruits of their labour.
Specialising in joyful, guitar led pop that is sure to instil positivity in those that come across it, the band have embarked on a lengthy UK tour that’ll enable them to connect with their captivated audience like never before.
Set to play a sold out show at Glasgow’s Stereo this evening, we spoke to frontman James Kellegher earlier this week about the band’s current trajectory and all of the amazing things that have happened for them in recent times.
Speaking in reference to the tour and its importance, James is quick to point out that this without a doubt their most pivotal jaunt around Britain to date:
“This is the biggest thing we’ve done for sure, not in terms of length as last year we played like 30 dates but I feel like this is more important. Glasgow being sold out already is insane for us so we’re really excited.
Having signed to the titan that is Capitol Records earlier in the year and garnering attention from not only online media outlets but mainstream radio stations , the band’s guitarist and vocalist is finding it somewhat difficult to comprehend exactly how far they’ve came over the course of the year.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in at all. We were just five mates who wrote songs in our bedroom, recorded them in a studio down the road, had fun and sometimes jumped in a van to tour across the country. I think it only really registers when we’re onstage and people are singing along but when we’re back at home we just revert back into the normal lads that we were back home.
When we hear our music on the radio or if we’re on TV we still get excited about it. My mum still records everything we’re on and calls me up like ‘you’re on TV come quickly!’ and it’s always been that kind of reaction. I think that’s a good thing though, if we get too complacent and expect more from the industry then that could be dangerous. I still haven’t that moment where I’ve been in a shop and our music comes on! I get texts from all of my friends like ‘I’m in topshop and they’re playing your music’ but it hasn’t happened to me so I’m starting to get wound up.”
Fans of the band are no doubt already aware that their debut LP is slated for release in February, after being recorded in Nashville alongside Jacquire King, the three-time Grammy Award winning producer who has worked with artists ranging from Tom Waits to Kings Of Leon, Dawes, James Bay, Lissie and Cold War Kids. Having finished up the recording process a long time ago, Kellegher insists that it feels like an eternity as they await the LP’s official release date.
“We finished it in December of last year, so it feels like an incredibly long time coming to be honest. We could’ve rushed it and just put it out straight away but it wouldn’t have been worth it. A lot went into this record, it was written over the course of three years and there was a lot of time and money spent on it so I think getting airplay, getting the tours sorted and things like that is a really important factor. To be able to say that the album’s coming is just a relief in itself, I’ve already pre-ordered it!”
As it turns out, the decision to record the album in Nashville wasn’t born purely out of convenience for its acclaimed producer; it transpired that being in such a historic locale enabled the band to fully commit to their music.
“ It was really really sick. Nashville itself and the fact that it is ‘music city’ was the best experience for us as it helped us become really immersed in it and it even inspired a few things on the album. Being so far away from home was good too as it took us out of our comfort zone and forces you to achieve more. The impact that he (Jacquire King) had on the album was huge, (recent single) Lion’s Heart was a B-side and he turned it into what it is now.
Staying with ‘Lion’s Heart’, the single is immensely uplifting and has a really important message at its heart, something which James states happened organically.
“Lyrically it’s an open letter to someone and I was trying to get them to realise that they’re stronger than they think they are. Musically, it all came together in pre-production so it was kind of unintentional things that made it what it has become.”
Touching upon the Stereo gig in particular, James made it all too evident that it is a show that they are truly excited for.
“The couple of times we’ve came to Glasgow before we’ve played King Tut’s which is of course an amazing venue but we’re really looking forward to playing somewhere new. I’ve never been to Stereo before but the fact that it’s sold out in advance is amazing. A lot of our crew actually hail from Glasgow so they know what Stereo’s about. They’ve said it’s going to be hot, sweaty and absolutely rammed.
Prior to tonight’s show in Stereo, the last time Eliza And The Bear graced Glasgow with their presence was during their time supporting our very own Twin Atlantic; a band that they’ve got an excellent relationship with. Speaking in reference to the experience of playing the imposing venue, James believes that it only served to inspire them more.
“ We’ve known Twin for years and the conversation has always been ‘we need to do a tour together’ but it’s never came around. Finally we got the chance and it was amazing. The Hydro show was amazing, just the size of it and everything was great. I think it has massively helped us to sell out the Stereo show so we can’t thank the guys enough. Support shows are always massively important and we’d honestly attribute most of our fanbase to various support slots that we’ve done. Once you’ve finished a support slot like that and you go into the crowd to watch like we did at the Hydro, you just think what you’d do if you were in that situation as the headline band and push yourself as far as you can go.
Despite all that’s going well for them, James remains refreshingly grounded in terms of what he expects from the future:
“I always say that we’re always pretty humble when it comes to this sort of thing and we don’t expect anything. If we can keep writing and playing music as a day job that would be great as it’s the most incredible thing you can do. As kids, we’d never have imagined that we’d be able to do this. Hopefully people keep enjoying what we put out and buy album number two or album number three then that would be amazing.
While the band may be remaining relatively coy about how much they wish to achieve, what this exciting young band are capable of will be etched across the faces of the fans that will pack into Glasgow’s Stereo this evening.
Eliza And The Bear’s debut album will be released on the 19th February via Capitol.