LAST year Quays News caught up with indie pop band, Eliza And The Bear, at the Ruby Lounge. One year on and the lads are back in Manchester with a bigger room, a bigger sound and bigger plans. Quays News reporter, Will Whitby, caught up with vocalist, James Kellegher, and guitarist, Martin Dukelow, to see what the past year has done to Eliza & The Bear.
When Quays News interviewed the London lads last year they had just released their EP, Light It Up, since then they had announced their debut self-titled album on Capitol Records scheduled for release in Febuary 2016.
“The album is a massive step for the band. I’ve got a lot of mixed feeling about it, I imagine every band feels them, we’re really nervous about how it’ll be received but at the same we’re really excited,” trendy lead guitarist Dukelow said to Quays in the dressing room of Manchester Academy 3.
Frontman Kellegher added “Announcing the album was a big weight off our shoulders, but then that added a whole other weight. It’s everything we’ve written. It’s almost like a little scrapbook of what we’ve all done since we started. “Friends” is on their and that’s day one.”
Eliza & The Bear have been a band since 2011 and since then have released numerous singles and a few EPs as well. The Londoners have toured the UK extensively playing Reading & Leeds festivals, Liverpool Sound City and have supported Twin Atlantic and even an arena tour with Paramore.
On our last meeting the pair described themselves as “uplifting sexy pop”. One year on “we’ve got a little less sexy, we’ve aged,” Dukelow joked.
“We’ve got all haggard and wrinkled on the road,” Kellegher added laughing.
“I feel with all the releases we’ve done over the years we’ve definitely developed an Eliza sound, not a one trick pony but it’s definitely a recognisable sound. When the album comes out people can see us more as 3D. You want an album that flows not just twelve tracks of uplifting sexy pop,” Dukelow stated.
When signing on at internationally famous record label, Capitol Records, Dukelow was slightly apprehensive about the proposition of this big record label: “I thought we were going to get sucked into a machine and be ignored and get put to the bottom of their pile. But the team at Capitol are just like another addition to our team. They’re very helpful, they’re coming to every show on the tour, and everyone is on the same wavelength.”
“The best part is that we can do it full time and focus on the music and gigging. It’s not part time anymore.” Kellegher optimistically said.
With big record labels comes big record producers and Eliza & The Bear headed stateside to record at Blackbird Studios in Nashville.
“Nashville was sick, such a music orientated city. That studio could have been anywhere in the world, it was incredible. The team and tech was unbelievable they helped the record massively,” explained Kellegher.
Whilst over in Nashville they worked with music producer Jacquire King, who had previously worked with the likes of Kings Of Leon and Of Monsters & Men.
“When you get told to work with a producer you do question what makes him a producer. But you do realise that their ear for little details is so important and not that obvious until they blow it in your face,” said Dukelow.
King particularly helped on tracks like Lion’s Heart, Where Have You Been and the pair’s favourite song, Cruel.
A band proud to be part of the vibrant British scene, Dukelow, continued to discuss his love for Blighty with me: “British people get behind British bands and are really supportive. We’ve never toured America but we know people who have and we moan about doing a 90 minute drive but in America its eight hour minimum, so it’s easy to tour. It is home, London to me is the best city in the world. Sorry Manchester.”
One year on and the question again is asked and much discussed: describe Eliza & The Bear in three words.
Dukelow: Grandiose. Composition.
Together: Divine, grandiose, composition.
“Sounds like some Latin over a bank. You’ll come back next year and we’ll both think “what the hell were we on about?!,” Dukelow jokily added.
It’s clear that in the past year the band have progressed and grown closer as a unit. From the short time I had in the spacey dressing room with the pair it was clear that the band are rife with optimism and it seems the only way is up for the friendly Eliza & The Bear boys.
By: Will Whitby