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ELIZA AND THE BEAR INTERVIEW

“WE drive around in this rubbish orange van while we’re on tour”, explains Martin Dukelow, lead guitarist in Eliza and the Bear.

“The group of us each take an album along with us for the journey. A lot of the time, we all enjoy what’s on, but our tastes are so different that it doesn’t always happen.

“We used to have really similar music tastes, but that’s changed a lot recently.  A few of the guys are into Alt-J, and Chris is into his punk.

“I brought along a Justin Bieber CD and almost had it flung out the car. I think it’s one for me to play on my own…”

All these colourful influences can be heard in Eliza and the Bear’s music; intensely sugary pop melodies, indie eccentricities and bursts of teenage bombast all come together in the band’s playful songs to generate something that feels joyful and of the moment.

Critics are quick to compare them to the likes of Bastille and Imagine Dragons. They have been labelled ‘Euphoric Indie Pop’ by some, a tag that Martin is quite pleased about.

“Yeah, ‘Euphoric Indie Pop’” he laughs, as he trips over the words “It’s quite a mouthful isn’t it?

“We never really pay attention to labels or anything like that, as there are lots of different tags out there, and we’d rather not stick to any particular one.

“But I do like that one; it’s quite epic sounding, and I hope people would think that about our music.

“We are quite chilled out when it comes to writing music. We tend to keep our ears close to the ground for what types of sounds are popular right now, and then work off each other.”

The band has been on a dizzying upward trajectory this year, following a batch of successful singles and festival dates. Their latest single Light It Up has been going down well on the festival circuit.

“It’s a song that we’d been playing for about a month on tour, and it really seemed to be getting a good response,” says Martin.

“I think it’s just because we’ve been working with this feelgood sound that people really seem to enjoy.”

Martin is quick to admit how shocked he was about the scale of their popularity.

“One night after a gig, we travelled about 11 hours all the way to Inverness for a gig at a festival called Belladrum up there,” he says.

“We’d never played that far north, but there were still people singing our songs. The energy of the crowd has been overwhelming everywhere and all of the shows have had a great vibe to it.”

The band’s energetic, feelgood aesthetic in the live setting is something they like to dub ‘The Eliza experience’. They pride themselves on their no holds barred approach to gigging, and it seems to be working. The band was able to tour with Paramore late last year, leading to a massive increase in exposure, and an experience Martin cites as a high point for the band.

“Paramore are this massive band, and they’ve been smashing it lately,” he explains.

“On tour we were introduced to the band, and they were really nice to us. They’ve got so many stories to tell about their experience, so it was really cool getting to hang out with those guys.

“It’s funny being with a band like that. It’s really not what you’d expect. The conversation was very normal a lot of the time, and we were usually just talking nonsense!

“We only played about seven dates, so It’s a shame we didn’t play more as we could’ve gotten even closer to the band.” On the tour, though, the band also had the chance to play at Wembley Arena – a gig that Martin sees as his favourite yet.

He recalls: “Wembley was one of the most nerve racking gigs we had ever played.

“It’s a venue that we used to go to when we were younger, and we used to see bands there all the time, so to sell out was something special.

“It’s right where we grew up really, and we even had our family at the gig so it felt like such a special moment.”

Eliza have so much more to look forward to, as they embark on a headline tour around the country this September

“There is something special about a headline gig. The people there have paid to see you, and they know all your songs,” says Martin.

It always makes for a good gig.”

Martin admits full-time gigging can be draining, saying that the band’s five week tour back in February was mentally exhausting.

The fact the boys were all mates before forming the band helps the group’s sense of drive through.

The boys grew up a few miles from each other and used to go out drinking together when they were younger, forming bonds that make touring easier.

Martin says: “I went to school and college with a couple of the lads, and we all used to go out drinking together and have a laugh.

“That makes it easier for us as a band as we get on well anyway.”

As well as this though, many of the band’s members have played in bands for the majority of their early teens.

“I think we all went through Screamo and Metal phases when we were in our early teens, and before Eliza, we had both been in other groups separately. What’s funny is, we were actually in two separate bands for a competition, and we played alongside each other at Esquires in Bedford. We’re actually going to be gigging there on our tour, so it will be surreal to go back.”

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