Interview: Ailsa Harper

ELIZA and the bear logo

Ahead of their sold out show at Glasgow’s Stereo I caught up with Callie Noakes and Paul Jackson from Eliza and the Bear about some of their achievements so far and what’s in store for the band for the rest of the year.

How did you guys meet each other?

Callie: I met James on a night out and we became friends practically straight away. The other band members, Paul, Chris and Martin were friends from college.

Paul: We were in separate bands and had played gigs together locally, eventually we all just came together to form Eliza and the Bear.

Where did the name Eliza and the Bear come from?

Paul: When we first got together I had a little studio set up in my front room and we were recording a song that we had no intentions of putting out but we decided we would put it up anyway so we needed a name. I was having a look around on the internet and stumbled across a poem by Eleanor Rees called ‘Eliza and the Bear’, we thought the name was really cool and it just stuck but we did of course get her permission to use the name.

Your debut album is out in February next year, what can we expect?

Callie: It’s available for pre-order now and has been a long time coming. We have been writing it over the course of two and a half years. I think there is a lot of diversity in the album, we tried a lot of different things.

Paul: There is a real mixture, some darker songs. There’s a track called ‘Oxygen’ that I really like, it has a much darker vibe.

Is it correct that you recorded the album in Nashville? What was that like as an experience?

Callie: Yeah, we were really lucky as we worked with a producer called Jacquire King who also did the Kings of Leon records, he basically beasted us and we had to rewrite a lot of stuff. We worked really hard but we are so pleased with how it sounds.

Paul: Nashville was exactly what I thought it would be like, the strip near where we stayed had something like 120 bars and there was literally a band playing in every single one.

Callie: Yeah, you would hear ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ at least twenty times a night.

Eliza & The Bear | Danny North
Eliza & The Bear | Danny North

Do you think you grew musically whilst you were out there?

Callie: Definitely, when you are surrounded by so many talented people that does rub off on you. The studio we were at had so many opportunities to play with different instruments and the chance to speak to new people.

Is there anyone that inspires you?

Callie: There’s a band called Brand New that I listened to a lot when I was growing up, even though it sounds nothing like the music we do, I like the energy that they have. I think you take little bits from everything, sometimes we even listen to Taylor Swift, she has great sing-along songs. We aren’t embarrassed to write songs that people love to sing along to, that for us, is the ultimate goal, especially when playing the songs live.

Paul: I grew up listening to a lot of Queen. Everyone in the band has different influences and it seems to work for us.

You guys had a busy run of festivals this summer, what were some of your highlights?

Callie: Reading and Leeds festival was definitely the highlight for us, it was the first festival we all went to when we were younger, so to go back and be asked to play was extremely nerve wrecking but we were so surprised by how many people came to watch us and were singing along.

Paul: Yeah I thought we were going to walk out and there would be no one there but it was pretty packed and everyone was having such a good time.

I noticed Glasgow was the first date of this tour to sell out, you guys have quite a bit of history here including supporting Twin Atlantic at the Hydro earlier this year, is this a city you enjoy playing?

Paul: Playing the Hydro was just incredible and we are so thankful to the guys in Twin Atlantic for giving us that opportunity. However, our first ever show in Glasgow wasn’t as successful, there were only two people and they were sat eating pizza whilst we were playing, they ended up getting up and walking out.

Callie: That was probably the worst show we have ever played but every other time we have played here it’s been great. It’s definitely redeemed itself after our initial experience and to sell out this venue has just been amazing. I think this is our sixth time playing here now, it’s probably our most visited city outside London. The crowd in Glasgow is always up for having fun and people aren’t afraid of letting loose which makes it such a special place to play.

Do you guys have any interesting or funny tour stories?

Callie: We did a tour with Paramore and it was really big venues, every night I was sick, I was so nervous. Also a certain band member likes to bring his personal tea-cup with him when we are on tour.

What’s in store after the tour?

Callie: We will probably write some more stuff, we are really lucky that BBC Radio One have just started to play our song ‘Lions Heart’ which is amazing. There’s a good chance we will be doing a new music video too.

To pre-order a copy of the new album and for more information regarding the tour, check out: www.elizaandthebear.com