We catch up with Eliza and the Bear’s James Kellegher and Martin Dukelow to talk leopard print mohawks and sell out headline gigs

Eliza & The Bear

Consisting of five lads with their roots firmly cemented in making music, James Kellegher, Callie Noakes, Martin Dukelow, Chris Brand and Paul Kevin Jackson collectively form Eliza and the Bear. Dubbed as one of the most promising indie-folk bands hailing from London, the guys are making quite the impression with their infectious upbeat melodies, soothing sweeter-than-syrup vocals and thunderous drum beats. Taking their name from Eleanor Rees’ book, the boys found that their lyrics connected to the themes within. We catch up with James Kellegher and Martin Dukelow to talk leopard print mohawks and sell out headline gigs ahead of their performance at Standon Calling this August.

So, where did the name come from? I’ve heard it’s inspired by Eleanor Rees – why is she significant to you?

James: Finding a name for a band is always a pretty tough period, it’s hard to find something that you like the sound of but also has a meaning or a connection to the music. Early on, one of us (I can’t remember who) stumbled upon Eleanor Rees’ Eliza and the Bear. We found that the book’s themes were very similar to the music we were writing at the time, and of course we loved the sound of the name. We emailed Eleanor politely asking permission to use the name, she obliged! We were lucky enough to meet Eleanor when we played in Liverpool earlier this year, after 3 years!

That’s amazing. So how did you all meet?

Martin: We all grew up in roughly the same town so we knew of each other just through friends of friends. Martin and Paul played in bands together at school and later went on to meet Chris in college who was sporting a leopard print mohawk at the time! James and Callie met each other upstairs at the London Garage whilst playing in separate bands. So at this time the band were split in two playing in their own outfits and coincidentally happened to play together at the Bedford Esquires. After a couple of breaks and shifts in members we sort of morphed into one and started playing under Eliza & The Bear.

What’s your songwriting process like, are you all involved or do you have different roles?

James: Usually someone comes into the rehearsal space with an idea or a chord sequence or even just a vibe. We all sit down with it, figure out where we are going with it and jam. Luckily we are fairly good at realising a songs potential, if we are forcing something too much and its just not working we will leave it in the “maybe later” pile. Our best songs always come quickly and with a fluidity to the writing process.

For lyrics I have a little black book that I scribble down anything that comes to mind or inspires me. When we are in the studio writing I’ll flick through it to try and find that difficult first line of the song.

Well it works! How would you describe your genre, some say it’s folk-pop?

Martin: I find it really hard to put anything into a specific genre with music. I think bands can have a cross over of so many sounds I end up just getting lost! I think we find that equally hard putting ourselves into a genre because we don’t set any boundaries when we write music. I’ve heard people compare us to folk pop but I’ve also heard a lot of other comparisons. Sometimes I think we find it easier to let people decide for themselves.

That’s true. Do you have any crazy fans in your following?

James: It’s always good to have fans that are as passionate about your music as you are, seeing someone in a crowd singing our songs and enjoying themselves to our set, can really give me life and energy when we play live. We’ve been given a few gifts and Christmas cards, which is pretty cool! No-one finding out what hotels we are staying in or where we live yet though!

That’s probably for the best! What’s the best gig you’ve ever played and why?

Martin: It would be a close call between two shows. The show in which we supported Paramore at Wembley Arena has to be up there due to its sheer size and the fact that it’s a hometown venue that we dreamed about playing as kids. I also saw AC/DC there, which was my first show. Then there is our headline show that we played at The London Garage. There is something more special or daunting about headline shows due to the fact that people have come to see you. The Garage show was sold out so for us it was an achievement and one that we really enjoyed.

It was a huge success! Aside from Standon Calling where else can we find you this summer?

James: We’ll be at Truck Festival, Y-not, Belladrum, Strawberry Fields, Standon Calling. All our live dates can be found on our website.

Lastly, where do you see yourselves in 10 years’ time?

Martin: Either on a world stadium tour or serving up burgers in McDonalds.

We’re pretty sure it won’t be the latter!

See Eliza and The Bear at Standon Calling 1st – 3rd August in Standon, Hertforshire. For more information please visit standon-calling.com.


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