I chatted to Eliza and the Bear, more specifically with Chris Brand (bass) and Callie Noakes (vocals, keyboard), and this was the result.
So when did Eliza and the Bear all kick off?
CN: Ahhh man, this always make me feel so old because I reckon it’s been about 3 and a half years now
CB: No way! Longer than that, it’s been about 3 and a half years for the past 2 years!
CN: Ahhh shit. Can’t believe we’ve managed to remain friends for that long!
And when it all began did you agree on the kind of music you wanted to be producing? Or did all of your sounds kind of morph together to create what your fans are listening to now?
CN: It kind of started out as a bit of a weekend thing to be honest, we’d just meet up in a practice space, play a few chords and see what happened. We pissed about like that for about a year and a half and then some people turned around and said ‘ahh, your music isn’t totally crap, maybe we’ll have a listen’. And I think that’s the moment we considered taking it a bit more seriously and that maybe we had something quite special here. There was never really a discussion, it kind of just happened.
CB: Yeah exactly, we got a couple of songs together properly and there was a bit of interest, we started meeting new people, and there we have it.
So did that interest start from gigging around locally?
CB: Well to be honest we didn’t plan on doing any shows, we just decided to get some music together and just see what happens! And it went down pretty well so yeah, can’t complain!
Hit the jackpot then!
CN: Well… if you call The Bodega (*pronounced incorrectly, might I add*) on a Monday night hitting the jackpot then yeah I guess! I’m certainly no lottery winner! Haha I’m just messing, we’ve played here before and it was great.
Did you sell out last time too?
CB: No we only sold about 120 tickets last time and it was absolutely rammed, and this time its about 250. So get ready. It’s gonna be pretty sweaty.
CN: Just a warning, I may or may not pass out. Who needs the piano any way?!
So you’re obviously gaining a pretty good following, and you’re on tour at the moment, how’s it going?
CB: Yeah its great, we’ve got about 26 dates in 30 days so it’s pretty manic
CN: Yeah and we’re on date 14 or 15 at the moment?
CB: God it feels like about 2 years. Everyone is absolutely knackered. We had our first day off yesterday for 6 days, had back-to-back shows so we’re pretty exhausted. And now another 6 in a row!
CN: oh shatttt upppp. Stop fishing for sympathy. We’ve got some high quality pull-cap beverages and some hummus and pita. What more could you want? You bloody diva.
Living the dream! So you’re travelling around the UK at the moment, what would you say your dream venue would be, if you could choose anywhere to play?
CB: Wembley stadium? It would have to be, surely?! Or main stage at Glastonbury, that wouldn’t be too bad either
CN: I mean, bit ambitious maybe, but we could try, gotta have a dream don’t you
In a few years, why not?! Might finally be a lottery winner!
CN: Haha exactly! Why don’t we just turn up to Glasto unannounced? That would go down well I’m sure…
CB: Ohhhh or Tottenham, White Hart Lane, that would be class
CN: I would not play there. You would be alone, on the stage. I am NOT playing there.
Sensing a bit of a sporting conflict?!
CN: I mean to say it’s a daily struggle would be an understatement. Putting up with this moron is pretty tough
CB: He can talk, he supports Sunderland, bottom of the league having an absolute nightmare. No one cares about them lets be honest
CN: I can tell you’re really enjoying all this football chat haha
Oh yeah. I obviously came here because of my passion for football…
(*followed by a good 7 minute conversation about my appalling football knowledge, mainly consisting of my love of Gareth Bale…*)
Back on topic, what has been the best venue you’ve played? Best gig so far?
CN&CB: Wembley Arena. Absolutely
CN: Or to be honest Capital FM here in Nottingham was great fun
CB: oh yeah yeah, the one with the ice hockey, that was awesome. With Paramore. But I reckon Wembley Arena was definitely a highlight as we’re all from London so it was great for us.
CN: It was proper jelly leg time.
CB: Haha yeah! You were sick before!
CN: I know. Absolute scenes. It was a bloody nightmare, I was so nervous. Just crawled on stage, only just got to the piano and it was terrifying.
CB: Before that we’d only ever played to crowds of about 300 so it was a big step up
So do you still feel the nerves now?
CB&CN: yeah yeah definitely
CN: I just pray I don’t make any huge errors. Like I make the odd little one all the time. But a fundamental one, now that would be bad. Wouldn’t want to do anything to embarrass me and my family… obviously. I mean everything ends up on YouTube these days, and you see some real horror shows. I just really, really, don’t want to end up as a meme.
CB: But imagine if Lad Bible posted it or something, and it went viral! Absolutely brilliant.
And from when you guys first started out to now, would you say your music has changed a lot?
CB: Massively. Its definitely got a lot heavier
CN: Our music used to be very tweed. A lot of blazer jackets involved and all that. I mean who really likes blazer jackets anyway
CB: Yeah it used to be pretty Mumford-esque
CN: I think we realised the blazer situation was just too unacceptable, and we’ve been trying to move ourselves away from that ever since.
Has it been a natural process? Or did you decide that you wanted to go in a certain direction?
CN: I think to be honest we were all into way heavier music anyway so it just kind of happened that way. We just got a bit caught up in what was popular at that time and have been trying to rectify it ever since
CB: A Kanye-esque production has managed to waltz its way in somehow too
CN: Oh stop it. Don’t talk to me about Yeezys. I keep seeing kids with them on. Where do they get them Yeezys from. I want some.
CN: Oh stop.
CB: I would kill for a pair of Yeezys. Everyone knows when you’re wearing a pair of Yeezys
CN: But they are dollar dollar bills. Serious cash. If I had the money, I would drown us in Yeezys. Seriously. Like a ball pit, but Yeezys. Just Yeezys everywhere. And we could just frolic in the Yeezys. Ahhhh.
So that’s the 10 year dream then? Yeezys?
CN: OBVIOUSLY. It’s the sole ambition. The only reason I play music. So I can own Yeezys. I hate the piano anyway. What am I even doing here? It’s just a means to the ends. I.e. Yeezys.
And 10 year music aspirations?
CN: it would be good to just be playing to be honest. Releasing some albums maybe?
Any words of wisdom for aspiring musicians?
CN: Try not to be Nickleback..? If they’re doing it, you probably shouldn’t be. That’s my life mantra
CB: They’re a great band don’t be ridiculous.
CN: To be honest I would say just carry on with your degree
CB: Yeah and try and get a good job. Music’s great obviously, but it is tough.
CN: Otherwise you’ll end up knackered like us! But no seriously, play a bunch of shows, that’s definitely important
And write your own stuff?
CN&CB: yeah yeah definitely.
CB: To be honest though, we’ve met people who are in really good cover bands earning top dollar. Some of them are really successful.
CN: So if you’re crap at writing songs, become a great cover band. The Pink Floyd one played Wembley Stadium. That is mad.
So when you guys are writing your songs, is there a main man? Or is it more of a collaboration?
CN: It’s all of us. We just kind of sit in this dark, dingy room. We start by listening to a Taylor Swift album to get the creative juices flowing, obviously. That’s incredibly important for us.
CB: I’m not a massive fan, but he seriously is
CN: You know Chris, you’re gonna look back in 20 years time and you will’ve missed out on the star of the generation. It’s the modern day Beatles, but in lady form. So yeah, we write our songs based on Swifty Principles. Is that not clear? We throw in some ad-libs, that’s a great Swifty principle. She was mistreated by Jake Gyllenhall and she’s not afraid to admit it. That’s the kind of thing I wanna be writing about. His hair game is also impeccable.
So what is the actual method you adopt when you write your songs? Do you think of an idea that you want to base a song around, or start with the chords and go from there…?
CN: We play a few chords, and it normally happens that our best songs come really quickly to us, as we just follow what we think or what we would expect would happen in pop songs. Whenever we begin overanalysing our music it tends to end pretty badly. So we just go with the flow really. James, our lead singer, has a little black book just full of goodness.
CB: He’ll just be sitting there humming things out as we play, trying to get little hook lines here or there
CN: We have a song called ‘Friends’, and I remember we were writing it in another room and I just overheard him saying ‘I’ve got friends, I’ve got family’ and I suddenly knew that would be it. And that song literally took 20 minutes to write. It’s often the ones that are a bit crap that just take ages and ages.
CB: We’re playing a new one tonight, ‘Cruel˚, and that one just took forever.
CN: To be fair it is a great song though. I mean I hope it is, you can decide! None of us are particularly well trained or knowledgeable about music, so we just think about what we’d like to hear if we were the consumer. And so far, it seems to be working out alright.
It does indeed! A great chat with the hilarious Callie and Chris, by Emma Hulston