TWO years ago Quays News caught up with London indie-poppers Eliza And The Bear just as they were to release their ‘Light It Up’ EP, they were a fledgling touring band playing Ruby Lounge to a near sold out show and were eager to please.
Back in September we met up again and they were road worn, experienced and had mixed feelings after announcing their debut self-titled album.
Now in April 2016 Quays News’ Will Whitby speaks with the quintet a few days after the album release with the band beaming with excitement and ambition for what is yet to come…
“We’re full of confidence, we’ve been itching for years to get it out and now it is finally here. Now the shows start to change, all the songs have a new lease of life,” lead singer James Kellegher explains inside Manchester Academy.
The band’s gig in Manchester comes right off the back off numerous weeks of promotion and a near month long tour of the UK.
“This tour is going really good, it’s a pretty hectic one. A lot of signing and promo during the day which makes a nice change to do stuff in the day. Usually it’s just load in, soundcheck and waiting around for hours. It’s nice to visit the cities and look around.
“That week where we did Live Lounge and also Sunday Brunch is what I imagined being a band with an album would be like. Constantly out on the road, constant promo, sharing sofas with Keith Duffy from Boyzone and Brian McFadden from Westlife and having Kimberly Walsh touch me on the arm,” Kellegher grinned.
Callie Noakes, the band’s keyboard player was also sat down with me and James: “On Sunday Brunch we had to make a prawn dish and James hates seafood. There was a part at the end of the show where we had to try it; James went up and had a tiny tomato and had to sarcastically go mmmmmm.”
Having first seen Eliza & The Bear at Liverpool Sound City in 2012, where they were playing a tiny café “Mello Mello”, I’ve been hooked since the start. Since then, the band has been on numerous tours around the country and parts of Europe from small bars to supporting Paramore on their UK arena shows.
“You’re tired 24/7 except when you play a show and you’re on a massive adrenaline high at 11pm and party till 1 but then you’re up at 8 again. The best part is playing shows now they’re all picking up and going wild,” James said.
“That Liverpool show was absolute detritus,” Callie jokes. “We had to get a locksmith out at like midnight to sort our van because our key broke in the lock. There was some proper ruffians out that night too. Hard lads on bikes causing unnecessary aggro.
“Our favourite thing to do is university summer balls. We get paid and to turn up and drink beer and play a half an hour set to a room full of people who probably don’t know you but are up for a good time and go wild anyway. We sometimes do Oxford and Cambridge and they turn up in top hats and seeing them lose it and go wild is quality,” Callie continued.
The band have been together for over four years now and all have their own “interesting” touring habits.
“Chris is the food robber, the chicken went missing today and I’m a vegetarian so it wasn’t me,” Callie laughed.
“I’m a snorer,” James admits. “Martin farts a lot. Like a lot. We need to send him the doctors. They sound incredible.”
Callie adds: “Like TV farts. He has a habit of recording them so there is just a collection of them on his phone.
“He’ll (Martin) send me a message saying he has a new cool riff and it’ll just be him farting. We might put it on the deluxe as a bonus track. I’ve got friends *comically mouth farts*.”
Eliza And The Bear have developed their own signature sound. Positive songs with eclectic guitar licks with a youthful dollop of brass and piano. The latter is slightly unique to the band as Callie discussed his role: “It all came naturally. It is another thing to carry the song I guess.
“It gives it more depth than just a guitar, bass and drums. We love that cinematic feel to the songs and like to make them sound massive.”
Conversation then turned to the level-headed nature of the band as James explained: “We don’t want to be a flash in the pan kind of band where we show up, have a huge album and tour and then disappear. We want to be able to work and produce a good album two.”
James also revealed that the London quintet are already deep into creating material album two.
“We’ve already written about 25-30 tracks. We finished album one at the end of 2014. So we thought sod it and started writing after six months. It also allows us to cut out all the chuff. When we properly sit down for writing album two we know what we want.”
That night the band played what they would describe on Twitter as one of the best shows of their career.
“Every show we are playing more and more people turn up. Last time we were here there was only 300 in and tonight it’s sold out so it’s nice to see a steady increase. It’s nice moving through the bigger rooms,” Callie said.
As always when EATB visit, Quays asked them to sum up the band in three words. In September 2014 it was “uplifting sexy pop”, in September last year it was “divine, grandiose, composition.” Now it’s taken slightly less seriously with “above average sometimes”, “not awful music” and “fairly competent musicians” being thrown around.
James added “not folk pop” to the mix to which Callie discussed is frustration of being branded folk: “There is not a bloody banjo in sight. I remember one person said “Mumford & Sons lighting style” like what does that even mean?!”
It’s clear to see that all the recent success and years of touring haven’t gone to the band’s heads. They are still the chirpy, humble and genuine nice guys that Quays met two years ago – even remembering my name and face from their past two trips to Manchester. Sat in the maze of halls and rooms at Manchester Academy swapping stories and sharing beers the only way is up for Eliza & The Bear.
Their debut album is out now on Capitol Records on all formats and they have numerous shows across the country in the summer.
By Will Whitby
A review of the gig can be read on Quays News now…