In The Middle with Eliza and the Bear

The future looks bright for Eliza and the Bear – an indie folk rock band from London who produce upbeat, hopeful music with euphoric choruses.  They are currently in the middle of their biggest headline tour to date, a huge moment for the band, who tell me they have played in some pretty obscure places around the UK. Before their gig at the Brudenell Social Club, the band reflect on their tour so far. They had initially been concerned that because they hadn’t done much “at the forefront this year”, people would have forgotten about them, but the opposite has happened. Martin (vocals and guitar) states “ticket sales have almost doubled everywhere; not just in London”. Compared to playing big stages at festivals, where their set has a more of a “smash and grab” attitude, playing intimate venues like the Brudenell allows the band a longer set.  To Martin “there is more flow at a gig like this”, and this certainly is the case.

They fill the Brudenell with their cheerful, anthemic music, and an impressive light show gives the band another dimension.  Playing live is what this band love doing best and you can feel that in their performance. Their set is fun and they manage to fuse rock and folk without sounding tired; their music is fresh and energetic. All of the members are instantly likeable, and throughout the set they thank the crowd for their support. It feels like an exultant moment for the five-piece. The sing-a-long singles are interspersed with new songs from the forthcoming album. James (lead vocals and guitar) discusses the balance between promoting new material whilst keeping the crowd’s attention. “You can’t throw that much new material at someone and expect them to stay interested.” All four of the new songs engage the audience. ‘Where Have You Been’ seems like an instant single that would sound brilliant on the radio, and the crowd love it.

The band’s self-titled debut album is due out on February 19th, and it was recorded in the Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tennessee, whose previous clients include Kings of Leon and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, to name a few. On the decision to record in America, James says “the studio could have been anywhere… it was the people inside it that made it”. The influence of the prestigious studio and producers is clear: “Lion’s Heart was a B-side when we went into the album sessions and it turned into a lead single from the album. That’s the level of input they had”.  Both Martin and James agree “we are way better live”, and this is something that was taken into account during the production of the album. According to Martin, “60% of the songs are recorded live”.

Travelling all the way to Nashville has obviously paid off. The day before the band set out on tour, they found out their latest single ‘Lions Heart’ had been play listed on Radio 1. “I could hear them screaming… I thought something terrible had happened” James recalls. The band see this as a turning point in their career, and that if they were to make it to the station’s A List, it would “change the world”.  It certainly seems to signal a new period in the bands career that looks headed for mainstream success.

The accompanying video for this single is brilliant. Shot in Northern Ireland, it follows a young girl chasing an older woman through a misty maze full of bizarre obstructions. It’s a cinematic and fittingly emotional complement to the song. The director, Markus Schroder, “had a crazy vision” but “[the band] were like, if you can pull it off…” Filmed over just 24 hours, the production of the video involved Martin and James waiting around in the freezing maze all night long, “having a cup of tea next to someone dressed as a blue stone”. It sounds odd, but it really works.

Things are on the up for this band, and the release of the album will hopefully be another stepping stone towards the success they seem destined for.



Fionnuala Deasy


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