Emerging Artists #32 – Bear Driver

February 28, 2012 by  



How did you get together, where you from and why did you decide to make music together?

Harry: Oli and I met whilst playing in a band in Leeds called the Hospital Bombers. When that band imploded we decided to try and form a new band. We talked about it for a long time, then one day we went ahead and booked a gig and then had to write a bunch of songs in time for the show. Early shows were just the two of us with an iPod.  More and more people joined the band to fill out the sound. Now there are 5 of us and we all live in London.

What’s behind the band’s sound and how did you come to it?

Harry: We all take influences from lots of different bands and musicians but more recently the Bear Driver sound has been influenced by bands like Yo La Tengo, Sparklehorse and Elliot Smith. Playing live has definitely shaped how the band sounds, the live shows became more noisy and energetic which in turn influenced the way we wrote.Jon: We have a team of highly paid music analysts, market researchers and industry insiders who give us detailed notes on current and future trends in popular music. We study these notes intently whilst writing, then whack on a load of reverb, or whatever, once the song is finished. We have it on good authority that the Chorus pedal is about to make a big comeback.

What equipment are you using for recording, and is there any particular reason behind the choice?

Harry:  We recorded the majority of the album live in three days in a studio in Bermondsey. The aim was to capture the performance of the band rather than focussing on the sonics of the album.  They had lots of lovely gear that I couldn’t try to understand or remember the names of. We then mixed the album at home, on a computer, in Pro Tools. We tried to use very little in the way of effects, and processing, preferring the more raw sound to having a polished sounding record.

Where was the band’s first show and what was it like?

Jon: I think the band’s first gig was at the Packhorse in Leeds when it was just Oli and Harry strumming an out of tune uke along to an iPod backing track. I remember feeling slightly embarrassed for them, but they’d got me into the gig for free so I told them I thought they were great. ‘You should join,’ they said. ‘Hooray.’ I said through clenched teeth, cursing my tact. It was like some kind of terrible sitcom, and has been ever since.

Harry: Like Jon says, except we didn’t get him in for free, he just refused to pay. He’s always doing that.

What’s been your favourite gig you’ve played?

Harry: Playing with Real Estate in Brighton. That was a fun show,  you could see the sea from the stage!

Jon: I could say the time we got a pair of free jeans each that was alright. Or that time me and Harry sneaked some alcohol into The Old Blue Last and those two girls stole our empty gin and tonic cans from off the stage after we’d finished (probably for a Bear Driver shrine), that made me feel like some kind of important pop star and I realised that all the boredom and frustration of being in a band might have paid off.

What bands/artists are you into at the moment?

Harry: I can’t stop listening to Neil Young, ‘Live at Massey Hall’ and Elliott Smith, ‘From a Basement on a Hill’. I’ve been listening to a lot of Dinosaur Jr. As well.

Jon: I have recently been listening to Thee Oh Sees latest album Carrion Crawler/The Dream. I like that one. I’m pretty much obsessed with the two latest Grouper albums, Dream Loss and Alien Observer. Both fantastic. Outside of those albums I only ever listen to this, on repeat.

Rich: I’m listening to ‘Lost In The Glare’ by Barn Owl and Black Lips ‘Arabia Mountain’…and highly recommend both.  You could also check out the awesomeness of Simon Fowler at www.cataract-operation.com He’s done mind blowing artwork for Sunn, Boris etc.

What can people expect when they come to your live shows?

Harry:   Noise, lights and messy pop songs.

Jon: I can’t tell people what to expect, but they can expect loud noises, overpriced beer and some kind of technical malfunction, usually involving Harry and attributable to him falling over/off/into something.

If you could get one band to reform who would it be?

Harry: I would love to have seen Nirvana, in a small club, around the time they were making ‘In Utero’. Or Sparklehorse, I regret not seeing those guys.

Rich : This whole nostalgia trip peaked with My Bloody Valentine BUT, if any band is still as vital and relevant now as it was then.It‘s Fugazi.Jon: It would have to be Leeds’ free jazz/noise/drone pioneers Death Rendell. They only played one gig, in a mould infested basement in front of less than 20 people, and left no recordings behind after their not at all publicised, entirely amicable split, but their reformation would mean I got to hang out and jam with some of my closest pals.. Because I was in Death Rendell. With some of my closest pals.

Do you have any confirmed plans for an album yet and if so what can we expect?

Jon: The only thing confirmed about the album is the title – Nashville Skyline – everything else is ‘tbc’, which stands for to be confirmed. Apart from the title. Which is Nashville Skyline. The title is confirmed. Nashville Skyline.

Harry: Don’t listen to Jon, he knows nothing. The album is not called ‘Nashville Skyline’, as that’s the name of a Bob Dylan record. The album is finished and ready to go, it will be self titled, and is going to be released in March of 2012.

What’s up next for the band?

Harry: We’re releasing our first single from the album, in the next couple of weeks and we’ll be playing some shows around London.

Jon: The future is unwritten, but preliminary talks about a Bear Driver/Bob Dylan collaboration to rival that of Lou Reed and Metallica have been very promising.


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