BBG Presents: Eliza & The Bear

11 September 2015

Laughing at things with people you enjoy hanging with. Working creatively with friends is something that if you’re blessed enough to be able to do, you should hold on to it with all you’ve got. There’s nothing quite like sitting around a table discussing something you and your mates share a true passion for. The excitement that fills the air, the anticipation and slow realization that the words shared between only the five of you in this intimate moment will come to life for you to share with others. For some this passion concerns magazines and fashion, but for others it’s music. No matter what it is, that burning feeling in the pit of your stomach is always a million times better when shared.

James Kellegher, Callie Noakes, Martin Dukelow, Chris Brand and Paul Kevin Jackson, make up Eliza and the Bear, an indie rock band from London. The boys are happy souls, and you can tell they are such good friends, as it’s almost difficult to get them to pose for a photo. They talk about tears and laughter, friendship and growing up. The connection they share is palpable and magnetic. In fact their friendship feels just like their music sounds, beautifully put together and ever so in sync.

With their debut album "Eliza and the Bear" (see what they did there) available to pre-order, photographer Sophie Mayanne takes the opportunity to capture the boys on a warm day in Hackney, where we spend a few hours walking down side roads and laughing, as we struggle to keep them all together for a photo. Dasha Kova plays with their laid back, infectious humour - creating a classic and authentic feel. Their music is impressive and intriguing, and as we spend the day with them they gracefully include us in their group for the day making us feel like we are one of them.

Above: Chris wears Jacket by LEVI'S, T-Shirt by WEEKDAY, Shoes by DR MARTENS.
James wears Shirt by RELIGION. Martin wears Vest by NUDIE JEANS, Shirt by LEVI'S, Jeans by RELIGION, Necklace ICON BRAND. Paul wears Jumper by SAMSOE SAMSOE, Shoes by DR MARTENS. Callie wears own clothes, Necklace by ICON BRANDI, Shoes by DR MARTENS.

Tell us a little bit about yourselves.
James: Me and Callie were in a band and then these three guys were in a band, but we were all only five minutes down the road from each other. Both of those bands split up and then we got together, not even to play gigs just to write music, because we were bored. We wrote one song and put it online and had a bunch of interest. People were asking for more songs and we were like, 'we literally just have one'. We spent the next year and a half writing from Paul’s bedroom. Now we are here.

How did you come up with the name?
Paul: It was when we were demoing our first song... sorry Martin always does this thing where when I’m trying to explain something he makes this noise (makes noise) and it always makes me laugh haha. I forgot what I was saying now haha.
Callie: It was in a book of poems by a lady called Eleanor Rees, and we emailed her and asked if we could have the name and she said 'yeah, that's cool'. Paul mentioned it and then I was on holiday and it was in a book store.

Are you all into poetry?
Everyone: No haha.
Callie: I read three quarters of it.
Chris: Poetry and coffee, that is Callie’s thing.

What is your writing process like
James: It normally starts with you two coming in with a riff or a chord sequence.
Martin: It will be a rough idea and then we have got a setup in Debdon.
Callie: We normally listen to a lot of Taylor Swift during the process.
Martin: You should never tell anyone that. That was a secret.

Everybody loves a bit of Taylor Swift.
Callie: I like a bit of Miley Cyrus as well, and a bit of Selena Gomez.
Martin: Yeah Callie’s music taste is questionable.
Callie: I love everything from Disney like Demi Lovato. I own that album. Not just on Spotify too, the physical thing.
Martin: You shouldn't admit to that.
Callie: That new Selena Gomez song and the Neon song - that is an absolute banger. Made in America.

What is the most embarrassing thing on your iPod’s?
Martin: I used to listen to Cradle of Filth, that is quite embarrassing.
Chris: I’ve got Abba’s greatest hits. That’s decent though.
Callie: I’ve got that Madonna's cowboy album, that’s pretty cool. That was the first album I ever bought.

Who is in charge of music when you guys are travelling?
Callie: I have such a bad Uber rating, because every time me and Martin get an Uber taxi late at night he just sticks on this DJ app and we are driving down the road like pow pow. They won't even pick me up anymore man.
Martin: I think that is because you keep being sick in their car haha.

What do you want people to get from your music?
James: We don't really think about it really. We just write.
Martin: I think we have the liveexperience in mind quite a lot, so we think about how it is going to sound like, but we don't think about what people are into at the moment, we just write what we want to.
James: As long as it sounds good when we play it live, then that is all that matters really.
Martin: Most of the time we don't even go in there with an idea we literally just let it happen. You get influenced subconsciously by all the crap pop music or whatever we’re listening too, but yeah we just let it happen.

Do you have any contemporary bands that you are listening to at the moment?
Martin: I really like Alt-J.
Callie: Royal blood.
Martin: Yeah, Royal blood and Catfish and the Bottlmen are good. When we were eighteen or nineteen there were so many new indie bands and that scene was thriving, but now I just feel it is heavily electronic and dance, which is cool and I do like a lot of that stuff. In terms of bands Alt-J is the last band I really got into.

When I was younger everybody used to go out and listen to gigs in these tiny, packed venues with some boys playing guitar and now it seems to be more like raves.
Everyone: Yeah.
Martin: When we went to Reading Festival last year you could see the tell tale signs.
Callie: The only packed tent was the dance tent.
Martin: Yeah, and the headliners were on. Their stage area was full, but the dance tent was were it was at. Everything goes in a circle.

Your music is quite uplifting. Is that a concise effort?
Callie: I think our music is uplifting, but James’ lyrics maybe darken the tone a little bit, which I like.
Martin: We have a lot of brass and we do put a lot of stuff into our songs so you end up getting this big, euphoric sound, which is what we do go for because we are so guilty of being led into putting as much shit into a song as we possibly can.
Callie: Every time we go to a new recording session we sit there and say we are going to be super minimalist with our approach to this one and then it ends up like five hundred tracks crashing together. It nearly gave our mix engineer a heart attack haha.

You all seem really close. Is your friendship important in your band?
No, I cant stand them.
Callie: Once I leave this band I won't talk to them ever again haha.
James: I think we have known each other quite a while, haven't we.
Martin: Yeah. I think to myself if I was in a band with a load of people I didn't know that wouldn't be nice. I guess over time you would become friends, but it is just easier like this. I can tell Paul to fuck off daily and he will take it as a friend.
Paul: Hurts every time.
Chris: No he doesn’t. He actually cries all alone haha.
James: We knew each other even a couple of years before we were in a band and we were friends first before we started the music, so yeah it was easy.
Callie: I look at our band and other bands and I do think we are especially close, because we are so local.
James: Also the fact that we are not on top of each other all the time. We also do our own thing and that’s ok.

Do you ever argue creatively?
Martin: We have heated debates, but it does come to a point where I understand how everyone feels about certain stuff, because you know each other and you know how each other writes I guess. Any small arguments are usually over in about ten minutes.
James: We know how to bridge them now.
Callie: I can't remember any. They usual involve me and someone else haha.

Have you all got quite different musical backgrounds in terms of what you were originally interested in?
James: There is a central point I think, but then everyone goes off in different directions.
Callie: Chris used to be a punk listening, mohawk wearing punk.
James: You were definitely that little emo kid.
Martin: I was into emo, but I remember listening to Blink182 and thinking it was embarrassing. Callie doesn't like music before 1994.
Callie: No, when was S Club 7? I don't know anything before S Club 7.
James: We recorded at Abbey Road and you could not give less of a fuck.
Callie: Yeah I know that yellow submarine song and that is about it.

What kind of stuff do you write about and who writes the lyrics?
James: I write them, and then me and Martin will sit down try and understand what it means.
Martin: Jay you have that black book don't you with a couple of lines or something.
James: Yeah there are loads of single lines in there that might start something. When they are writing the music I will sit and flick through that book and if I sing one of those lines it might spur something. There's never a thought process of what it is going to be about, but it always just ends up being about something. I just start writing, as it is more natural that way and then Martin can pick it out and if the lines are a bit obscure then he will try and straighten them out a bit to make them more clear.
Martin: I just say how I interoperate it as that sparks more ideas too. Like poetry.

Above: Callie wears Top by ALL SAINTS, Shoes by UNDERGROUND, Necklace by ICON BRAND. Martin wears T-Shirt by PUBLISH, Jeans by RELIGION. Paul wears T-Shrt by THE KOOPLES, Shoes by DR MARTENS. Chris wears T-Shirt by WEEKDAY, Jacket by ASGET JUEL LARSEN, Shoes by UNDERGROUND. James wears own Shirt, Jeans by THE KOOPLES.

What are your key albums that you like listening to?
Callie: Brand new god and the devil are raging inside me. Fifteen year old me was stoked for that album.
Martin: I’d say Radiohead. It would be between “Ok Computer” and “Hail to the Thief.”
Paul: Katy Perry.
Callie: A defining album in Paul’s life is Katy Perry. Oh god, did you see her documentary?
James: So good. Did you cry when she broke up with Russell Brand? I was pretty sad.
Martin: I wasn’t. It meant she was back on the market haha.

Do you guys have any odd Twitter fans?
James: No, but we have had Twitter beef before though, with a writer who said our name was bad.
Martin: This sounds really cheesy, but where we have our shows we end up getting to know people afterwards and we like getting to know the people who tweet us. So when people tweet us we know oh it’s Tom or John or Sally.
Martin: No weird packages sent to our houses though.

Is it weird having people write stuff about you in that situation?
Martin: I used to read our reviews until we got a bad one. You can read a thousand good reviews and then the one bad one is the one you actually focus on, so I just don't read anything that gets written about us now.
James: I find it quite funny, I like reading stuff. I have never read anything personal, but if something personal was said about me that would really annoy me.
James: The one I remember is the one where we did a three band bill and the first band got an awful review then we got an awful review and the last band got a gleaming review. Then someone did a bit of digging and it turned out the person who was reviewing was the last bands manager.

Is there a song out at the moment that you wish you could have written?
James: That Taylor Swift song, Style.
Martin: I would say The Weekend ‘Can’t feel my face’.
Chris: Yeah they are great.
Callie: I love that Jason Derulo song.
Martin: I’m bored of that one already.
Callie: I didn't belittle your answers.

Do you take influences from anywhere else outside of music?
Martin: I think films. Sometimes you don't realise it, but subconsciously it does.

You have an album coming out soon?
James: Our album is coming out on February 19th 2016.
Callie: And the tour in October, we are touring around the UK. Headline tour in October. Is it London Koko on the 7th of October, then Reading and Leeds.
Chris: Yeah, we are looking forward to playing there. The whole tour is done really well. It feels like it has been ages as we spent a lot of time getting the album done so now we are looking forward to getting back on the road.

Do you go wild on tour?
James: I am the tamest person. I will be in bed every night before midnight.
Callie: Martin’s first question when we go to any town is where is good to go out here.
James: Martin is the most extreme and I am the opposite, but Chris likes to think he’s the most extreme.
Chris: For the record, I am.
Martin: We do, but we try and keep it to a weekend thing because you can just burn out.

What is your ultimate band goal?
Martin: For me it would probably be to headline Glastonbury. If you walk out at Glastonbury headlining, you know you’ve made it.

Pre-order Eliza and the Bear's debut album here.



Interview and words by India Opie Meres.

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