Venturing in the Bear’s Den
American tours, music videos going viral and massive shows across the UK are all par for the course now for Bear’s Den. It’s been a busy year in 2014 for Andrew Davie, Kevin Jones and Joey Haynes especially since the October release of ‘Islands’.
We’ve been big fans at Folk and Tumble since first seeing the guys play back in 2012 and were hugely grateful to them for taking a few minutes out from their busy schedule for a chat.
It’s been a while since we’ve seen you guys in Belfast, playing basement bars and handing out hand-printed EPs. What’s been happening in the world of Bear’s Den since then?
We have recorded and released our debut album, ‘Islands’, and toured as much and as hard as we’ve been able to. It’s been way too long since we’ve been to Belfast!
The live shows are bigger and the sound has grown with them. Was the recording of ‘Islands’ any different compared to making the first EPs?
Everything is a bit bigger. You need to record twice as many (or more) songs while retaining the feel of a unified and coherent whole. There’s also the added pressure of releasing a full-length album, which is considered by the industry and media (for whatever reason) to be a more serious statement than an EP, so we wanted to make sure our first impression to (hopefully!) a larger audience was an accurate and representative one. A lot of hard work, but immensely rewarding, and guided and overseen by the invaluable and inimitable talents of our producer, Ian Grimble.
The London indie-folk scene has been churning out great acts for a few years now. Is there anyone you think we all should be listening to?
The most obvious candidate right now would be up-and-comer Jack Garratt. He puts on a one-man show unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
After the album launch show in London, it’s off to the States for a fairly lengthy tour. What’s been the American reaction to Bear’s Den?
We’ve had the good fortune of doing a couple of amazing support tours in the US (Mumford & Sons and Daughter), and that has allowed us to build a kind of grassroots following around North America. This is invaluable, and also means we have fans in non-traditional places like Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma. We’ve done three headline tours of the US now, and we absolutely love it and will keep coming back as long as they’ll have us.
Post-tour, what does the immediate future hold for the band?
We’re recording a music video this week, playing the XFM Winter Wonderland in Manchester on 15 December and then doing a couple of support shows in the Netherlands before taking a Christmas break. In February 2015, we’ll be doing a headline tour of the UK and Europe, including a date at Belfast’s Voodoo on 9th February, though it’s nearly sold out, so I’m told!
The video for ‘Elysium’ gained heavy internet rotation earlier in the year. How tough was the decision to go ahead making it after the tragic incident or was that all down to the filmmaker and participants?
When we were first told about the school shooting, we just assumed that the video would not be finished and that we’d have to make another video for ‘Elysium’. It was the decision of the kids in the video and the filmmaker (our incredibly talented friend Marcus Haney) to finish filming, and they also wanted it to be released. It didn’t really feel like just our music video anymore, but we were all in tears after seeing the final product, and it was really about honouring the kids’ wishes and the memory of their friend, Paul Lee. His family set up a foundation that focuses on mental health issues in his honour. Go to paulleefoundation.org/ for more information.
It’s become one of our favourite Bear’s Den songs. Will the rest of ‘Islands’ follow suit or should we expect any surprises?
‘Elysium’ is a good sample of what Bear’s Den are about, but there are definitely a couple of songs that sound quite different. I guess you’ll have to listen and find out!
We’ve come across the band playing some great pop covers in the past. What guilty pleasures are currently on the Bear’s Den stereo?
Taylor Swift and Bryan Adams? We don’t feel guilty about them, though.
And when will that tour bus stereo be guiding you next back to the UK and Ireland for some live shows?
As mentioned, we’re doing a headline tour of the UK and Europe in February, which includes dates in Dublin and Belfast (8th & 9th February respectively) – for more info and tickets, go to bearsdenmusic.co.uk – see you there!