“Bristol is a city that has always been good to us“. The Essex boys are excited to be back in town to close their nationwide headline tour before they head off to America to record their first full album.

Recently named “One of the UK’s most promising young bands” by many critics, the future of this indie rock band seems very bright. In two short years they have come from playing floor shows in local pubs to touring with music giants. “Paramore was the one that we felt that we turned into a real band when we did that tour” they confided, “we learnt how to play live because we were chucked in the deep end, literally”.

If you get a chance to see Eliza and the Bear live, many of you might be left a little confused. The all male group admit that they enjoy the fact that people are expecting to see a girl when they come on stage, but say that the name is not just for kicks. The band got its name when Martin (guitar) and Callie (keyboard) found the same poetry book (of the same name) independently when in San Francisco and fell in love with it. “We decided it was a sweet name, so I emailed the author and she said she’d love for us to use it.” explained James (vocals).

Credit: Arnold Salmitris
Credit: Arnold Salmitris

They were looking worse for wear as I sat down with them before they performed the last show of their nationwide tour at the Fleece to see how they think its gone. “London was the biggest headline show we’ve done to date so that was like a milestone” says Martin. The warm reception in their hometown definitely left an impression and they promised to come back with a bigger better show next time.

The guys were polite when I asked about the low points (referring to stops on the tour), James instantly parried the question, talking about their shattered immune system instead “I was super ill for ages, and everyone’s kinda getting ill now. Illness is definitely a downside”. Despite this the spirits where still high.

This wasn’t the first time Eliza and the Bear have played here. “Bristols has always been really good to us. The last time we did a headline show in the Louisiana it was our second busiest show”. I suspected that James was just being polite again but then all three of them perked up, talking about past gigs here and a certain memorable night in Syndicate. “We know all the great places to eat and all the great places to go out now. I actually feel like I know this place,” added James.

The response to the recently released EP has been amazing according to James: “The EP has been around for a relatively a short amount of time compared to ‘It Gets Cold’ and ‘Friends’. People have had time to get used to it whereas Light It Up has only had about two months and now people are singing along, that reaction has been great for us”.

I personally did not expect to enjoy the live show. After listening to Light It Up EP, it seemed that they struggled to distinguish their sound from any other intensely euphoric indie rock band. I was also expecting the relentless jolliness to get old after a few songs, however its hard not get swept away when you’re faced with so much energy which you just can’t feel if you’re not seeing them live. It’s easy to be cynical about this type of music but after meeting the band I got the vibe that they’re are genuinely happy to be alive and who want to share that joy with the world.

They have done quite a lot in a short space of time so the expectations for their first full album are very high. The guys will be back touring the new album in the UK some time in February and I am curious if they will manage to live up to those expectations, regardless they are definitely a band worth seeing live.

By Arnold Šaltmiris