Giving into the unwarranted yearning for melancholy mood draining music can be all too easy. Hard day at work? Morrissey gets it. Housemate still hasn’t cleaned that bowl? Nothing Lana Del Rey hasn’t experienced. However, when you decide it may be time to flee from the shackles of sadness and prance towards the lighter side of life, Eliza and the Bear will be ready and waiting with musical talents which equivalent an infectious smile. Shockingly there is no one named Eliza in this band, even more shockingly, there is no bear, still there is a James Kellegher who is lead vocalist for this London based Indie-Rock clamouring 5 piece.
As we sat down with James it wasn’t difficult to see the similarities between creator and creation when posed with his can-do, will-do demeanour, the joyous forward motion music that Eliza and the Bear are known for seemed like a complete given. The band’s long awaited second album is on the horizon, so we caught up with James to find out what they’ve got in store for us.
How would you describe Eliza and the Bear?
“It’s always hard to try and describe your own band because I suppose you can’t be objective about it. But we like to have a good time, and we like people to have a good time with us, our music represents that idea. It’s all about live music for us, there isn’t much better.”
What can we expect from your forthcoming album?
“The influence has switched up, Mac Miller, Anderson Pakk and old funk, Rick James [and] artists like that have been a big influence for the new album. We love pop music, they’re all quite pop influenced [although] there are some sombre songs…we wanted to dive in and pull a little more of the innards out [to] display more.”
How do you think it will fare with die-hard fans?
“We always thought that Eliza and the Bear was less of a genre and more of a feeling, so the new album still sounds and feels like us. What we loved with the first album was the catchy hooks so we’ve kept that element present but we didn’t want to fuck around, we didn’t want to play it safe or sit back [with this album]. The songs on the first album got us so far and we’ve had a fucking great ride with it, now we wanted to smash the ceiling and see what’s on the other side.”
What have been some of your highlight shows thus far?
“There’s been so many, headlining Koko was a highlight because that was the first venue we played where I had seen bands [that] I loved. Touring with Paramore was another because we were massively chucked in at the deep end…we weren’t half the band we are now. Doing that tour was how we learnt to play live, we figured it out. We learnt so much but I always say if we could play that tour again it would be a different ball game. Playing Reading Festival and having a big crowd was incredible. It’s so much easier when there’s more people, especially at a place like that. At the Paramore shows it was way more nerve wrecking because no one there gave a fuck about you, no one owed you anything but at Reading [when you’re] in the tent you know that every single person is there to see you. You get that air of confidence; it feels fucking amazing.”
Do you remember the first time you realised what the band had potential to become?
“When we were first contacted by our management I thought, maybe we’re onto something here, this could be interesting, but we had no idea about the music industry with no experience what so ever…I was pretty doe eyed. After we put out a second song our management had us play The Great Escape in Brighton for booking agents to see us. When we were setting up it was dead, there was no-one there so we thought it was going to be dreadful. When we walked out on stage the venue was completely packed out with about 250 people waiting outside. Agents who came to see us had to go to the front of the cue to explain who they were. That was the point where we thought, this is going to go now, this is it.”
What is the biggest misconception people have about what you do?
“Perception is crazy, people think you’ve made it. The offers come in, you sign the deal and you think life is going to change, and it does, but it gets more like a job. You have a diary, you go into the office, it feels regimented. People think when you sign the deal it’s like you’ve made it but really that’s day one of work.”
If you could have a chat with any musician who would it be?
“I don’t think I have a favourite musician…maybe because of how I got into playing music, I would probably rather meet a producer. I have met Gil Norton who made the Foo Fighters albums, I met him, got well pissed…he got me pissed actually.”
What would you say is your biggest motivation?
“I think proving people wrong. I remember when people [from industry] would come and check us out in the beginning and a woman from some label was watching us, she basically said we weren’t good enough. You need someone to kick you to the ground so you can get back up again.”
Who were the first artists that you loved?
“I wish I could say Bob Dylan or someone like that, the way most do, but because I was quite late in getting into music it was Taking Back Sunday. I feel like they were one of the first bands that opened my eyes to song writing.”
But this was before you played instruments or sang?
“Yeah it was before any of that, I remember picking up on the fact that there were two vocalists that merged and sang on top of each other, that was the first time I began noticing details like that in music.”
Did you delve into any other genres?
“I was mostly interested in emo around that time but I had this love for electronic music and drum and bass, trance and stuff like that. [The Varity] all eventually stemmed into me being interested in production.”
What was the first instrument you learnt to play?
“Drums was my first thing; I was massively into drums. From the age of two I was banging on pots and pans. When I got older I still wasn’t into buying albums, I was just into fucking banging shit.”
Everyone in Eliza started off as friends, how important is that relationship to how you function as a band?
“The music industry can test your relationships so much, it’s 100 times better to have your mates around you.”
What happens when opinions differ?
“You can become precious over what you’ve done, but sometimes you have to get an outside opinion on things. It takes a while to be like “Yeah ok, I’m going to let you in” and trust that you’re getting the advice you need, and that its delivered well, you know no one [in the band] is going to say “sorry mate, that’s actually shit.””
What advice would you give to new bands who are just starting out?
“There is so much to learn, I knew fuck all when we started out. You still learn new things every day. Major labels are super fucking helpful to have but they’re not paramount. It’s not the be all and end all, if you’re not on a label don’t shoot yourself in the foot, you’re completely capable of progressing properly and gaining fans. [Also], making the right impression is so important. People want to know that you’re a good band and not a pack of dickheads with guitars. You never know who’s watching you when you play, we played an acoustic gig in the middle of St pancreas international and some guy came up and booked us for a cooperate gig in eastern Europe, [we’ve also] ended up in Hong Kong the same way. You never know who you’re going to meet, [so] never be a dick because you don’t always know who you’re being a dick to.”
Words by Rhiannon Thornton
Images by Aaron Price