Eliza & The Bear Are Back But Still No Sign Of The Bear

Eliza & The Bear are back, still with no sign of a bear anywhere  but with one less member and one less record company. Having formed in 2011 naming themselves after a selection of poems from Eleanor Rees, they seemed to have the indie folk world at their feet.

A critically claimed debut album saw their upbeat anthemic sound become the soundtrack to a summer of festivals. But, like so many acclaimed songwriters, they were not happy to sit on their laurels and have come back with a new single ‘Higher’ that is radically different to the songs from their Capitol Records years and takes them into new uncharted waters. It’s a great sound and is certain to once again lift the soul of anyone listening but how confident are they that this new sound will take their old fans with them and help them take the step to the arena fillers their talent deserves. I got to pose some questions to the band and this is what they had to say.

EP: So guys, thanks for the chance to ask you a few questions as you release your new single ‘Higher’, the first since you parted ways with your record company. The style of the song seems to be a big departure. What motivated the change?

EATB: From the outside I think it seems like a drastic change that happened over night, but the fact is the songs on the album were over 2-3 even 5 years old by the time the album was released. Not to say we don’t enjoy those songs, just our tastes have grown like we have. The new Eliza stuff is by far my favourite we’ve ever written, I feel like being thrown into the deep end of the music industry made us learn fast that you should just do what you want to do, don’t answer to anyone creatively. 

EP: Given the loyalty of your fans to your debut album, how do you think they will take the new sound?

 EATB: So far the reaction has been great, of course the nerves were there. But I’d rather make a comeback thats going to make people sit up and listen, not just make a carbon copy of our debut. I also feel like genres don’t matter anymore, back when I was young if you listened to rock you couldn’t listen to hip hop. Why?. Nowadays, with streaming being the number one way to consume music, people have every genre ever in their back pocket.

EP: There’s a real shift towards a pop vibe and an almost Nile Rodgers style sound which is reminiscent of Maroon 5. Is this a wholesale shift in that direction or just the result of your collaboration with producer Hight?

EATB: We all started listening to a lot of different music and that definitely bled into the writing process, Rick James, Nile Rodgers, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, James Brown etc.

We’d never explored the relationship of the bass and drums as a proper rhythm section, we wanted to make peoples heads bop in a way we hadn’t before.

We were well underway with the new sound when we were introduced to Hight, immediately it felt like the right thing. Hight helped us realise our vision, he’s a bloody whizz!

EP: Many people would think this is a big risk, what’s your view?

EATB: What’s wrong with risk! Yeah it might go wrong, but it could go right. 

EP: Does the fact that you split from your record company suggest they were unsupportive of your new direction or was it an amicable parting of the ways?

EATB: The label didn’t actually get to hear the new material, I wonder if they like it. It was an amicable parting of ways, sometimes you’re a small fish in a very big pond, so you gotta jump out and get in a smaller pond whilst you grow. Its a fickle business, you can let it get to your head and it can seem like the end of the world when something like that happens. Trust me, its not.

EP: The single has already attracted positive review and seems to have pleased existing fans too. Are there other tracks with Hight that we may see soon?

EATB: We are constantly writing, an album is on the horizon and we feel like Higher is a solid representation of that but we aren’t going to be playing safe anymore, anything goes. 

EP: Looking to the future, do you think you might reinvent your style with each new album? 

EATB: Its possible, the time between writing albums will be inevitably shorter so the progression may seem less drastic. Lets take a look and see what we’ll sound like in 5 years.

EP: I’m lucky enough to have seen you live several times. I’m gutted that you are not headlining at Barn On The Farm 2017 after last year’s barnstormer of a set. With the new style and the raw energy of your usual live performance, have you been brushing up the dance steps? Are there any festival dates to come?

EATB: I am a poor dancer at best, so maybe I’ll have to get practicing grooving to these new tunes. The new songs slot beautifully into the set, I can’t wait for people to learn all the words and come and dance with us. We are at a few festivals this year, 110 Above, and we are also heading over to Moira Calling in Northern Ireland for our first show over there!

EP: It was great to see how cheap the tickets for your two intimate gigs were. Was this a reaction to the ridiculous prices asked by some artists for tickets?

EATB: They can get ridiculous at some levels, obviously the bigger the venue warrants a higher ticket price. We wanted to put on two intimate and completely affordable gigs for our fans. Theres nothing worse than seeing someone on twitter say that they can’t come to one of our shows because the tickets cost too much. Music is universal and should be accessible for all.

EP: Finally, can we expect a new album soon or must we wait till next year?

EATB: I have no dates, but it will be out as soon as we can get it out. Lets say we’re 1/3 of the way through.

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