What does the band name mean to you?
The band name actually came from a Pearl Jam lyric, we both love that band, so I guess it will always have an attachment to their music which is quite cool. That and the imagery of the bear – our band logo was done by this incredible artist called Gabriel Holmes, he really gave an image to the name, whenever I think of the name I think of the image, which is a testament to how good a job he did with it.
Where is the band based?
We’re based in Birmingham and Worcester.
How long have you been together?
The band is just my brother and I, we’ve basically played together since we started playing instruments, so about 14 years, pretty crazy to think about.
What style of music do you play?
We have quite a varied taste in music but we both love cinematic rock. Music that has melody but also contains that raw grit and energy that makes it feel cinematic. That’s what inspires us to write music in a similar vein; our outside influences do flavour songs, some have a funk element, some indie, others even pop; but that is always layered over the core of a strong, cinematic rock song. We like to refer to our sound as beautiful noise because we put a lot of time and effort into making the melodies and arrangements ‘beautiful’, catchy and soulful essentially; but also love huge, cataclysmic choruses and riffs that could bring down buildings, so smashing the two together gives us our little recipe for beautiful noise.
Give us the story of the bands formation.
Well we’ve technically been playing together for 14 years but Bear Witness as a concept and official band started 6 years ago. It was born out of a desire to make music that had a sole focus on strong songwriting and expression. The previous band we’d been a part of was falling apart for a number of reasons and forming Bear Witness was the natural progression to keep writing music going. We had an unavoidable hiatus due to university commitments in 2016 but returned in late 2018 as a 3 piece with our debut EP ‘Dreams of Fame’. Unfortunately it didn’t work out with the 3rd member and we decided a couple of months ago to become a 2 piece, we have our 2nd EP ‘DAWN’ coming out on the 18th of October. We’ve come so far since the 1st EP and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.
Tell us about your influences.
We have quite a varied list of influences, we both listen to different things and that really colours the sound in a nice way. To name a few: Linkin Park, Nirvana, Goo Goo Dolls, Muse, Queens of The Stone Age, Nothing But Thieves, Prince, Highly Suspect, Twenty One Pilots, Michael Jackson, The Weeknd, Jeff Buckley, Kings of Leon, Radiohead, The Glitch Mob, Jack White, Bring Me The Horizon, The Police, Pearl Jam, Chris Cornell, the list goes on and on! Most importantly though we’re really inspired by Jeff Goldblum’s jazz piano skills!
Tell us about your latest release.
Our next release is our 2nd EP ‘DAWN’. It will be released on the 18th of October and we’re so excited about it. The songs are a step up in every way from our debut EP, the songwriting is better, the recording is better, the performances are better, and most importantly we really love the songs on it. We spent over a year writing the songs for it and tried to be as selective as possible to ensure only the best were put on there. We’ve ended up with an 8 track record that we couldn’t have made better. The genre is ultimately Alternative Rock but has elements of electronic rock, indie, pop and hard rock in it. Think a bit of Linkin Park, Highly Suspect, Nothing But Thieves, Kings of Leon, Michael Jackson and Jeff Buckley all thrown into one haha.
We’ll be releasing the single ‘Tokyo’s Ruin’ on the same day as the EP release to finish the mini, Bladerunner inspired, sci-fi film we’ve been making out of the videos for the singles from the EP. It is the 3rd and final chapter in our little sci-fi adventure – funnily enough also called ‘DAWN’. It is a story that follows a group of humans who have evolved to teleport and manipulate reality, they are feared and persecuted by the government because of this and have to live life in the shadows, constantly evading the futuristic army that hunt them – the DAWN. Sounds exciting I know! 😉
The first 2 parts are already on our YouTube channel for the singles ‘Perfect Living’ and ‘Save The Youth I Own’ so feel free to check them out. We made everything in the videos ourselves, shot it all, did all the special FX (which was a nightmare haha) and even climbed Snowdon in the snow to get shots for ‘Save The Youth I Own’, it took a lot of effort but was definitely worth it!
Where is your music available?
Our music is available everywhere! Most people listen to it through Spotify, Bandcamp or iTunes though.
What are your goals for the bands future?
Ultimately we would love to make a living off of our music, not anything extravagant, the age of millionaire rockstars has died really, just enough to get by. There’s a quote from Brandon Boyd of Incubus where he says ‘I learned from a very young age that if I pursued the things that truly excited me, that they would reward in more important ways, like happiness.’ Which is essentially exactly how we feel about music.
Short term wise we just want to reach as many people as possible with the music. We work hard on all the music we make and so would love for it to reach people that can really connect with it.
If you could share the stage with any other band or artist, who would you chose?
Definitely Twenty One Pilots, they seem like such great guys and their music is amazing. They’re doing some really exciting things with music at the moment, pushing the boundaries of genre and where you can go as a two piece; which inspires us to no end.
What can you tell us about your live shows?
Most of our shows are pretty up tempo and exciting, we just love it when people start dancing and bouncing around. That’s what rock music should be about really, just letting loose and having fun to some songs that mean something. It can be so cathartic for everyone involved, especially us.
Do you have any upcoming gigs to promote?
We’re currently in the process of sorting a few actually, one that looks to be happening for sure is one at the University of Birmingham on the 29th of November, should be a good one!
What do you think sets you apart from other bands?
I’d say the main thing that makes us unique is our variety. We all enjoy a huge range of music and that really comes through in the songs we write. All the music comes under the bracket of Alternative Rock but each track definitely has its own personality, whether it be heavier, moodier, more introspective or poppy etc. as often each one is inspired from completely different things.
We also pride ourselves in really trying to craft songs that wouldn’t sound out of place in our favourite albums. We write a lot and so filter everything to only the songs that completely move and enliven us. We want our music to really resonate with people, along with having some strong riffs and beautiful melodies!
Explain why you think a new listener should give your music a go.
The main reason we would give for listening to our music is that we try to ensure we write songs that are good without all the distortion and powerful rhythms. We put so much into trying to create the best music we possibly can. Often an unbelievable song sounds great with whatever arrangement you give it, Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged springs to mind as a perfect example of this, they stripped back a bunch of their songs that were normally drenched in reverb and distortion and they still sounded fantastic. So we put a great amount of time and energy into making sure the backbone of the song, the melody and chord sequences effectively, is good. We test every song acoustically to see if it sounds good without the production element, if it does then we continue with it. You listen to any incredible songwriter: Sting, Chris Cornell, Prince etc. and their songs all have this quality, they sound great whatever the arrangement – we want to write music that can hopefully do the same.
What has been your biggest achievement as a band, so far?
It sounds cheesy but probably the moment when we were playing live and the crowd sang back the lyrics to our song ‘Liquid Diamond’ or when they bounced and danced like lunatics to ‘Perfect Living’, we won’t forget that, it really sticks with you when you see people reacting so positively to something that you created from nothing. We’ve had other more quantifiable achievements: getting played multiple times on BBC Introducing, or being playlisted by Total Rock radio to name a couple, which were amazing too. But if I had to choose between the two it would have to be the crowd reaction. As an artist you spend so much time wondering if what you’re making is good enough, there’s so much doubt involved, and so when you hear your lyrics sang back to you it helps give you confidence in the music, gives you the belief that what you’ve written is good. That’s why I’d always pick that.
What else do you hope to achieve?
We just want to make a living off the music we make. Anything extra would be a bonus. I mean we would love to headline Glastonbury as much as anyone, that’d be unreal! But we’d be satisfied with making enough to live and hopefully helping people with our music the same way our favourite artists have helped us. That and play on stage with Jeff Goldblum, he’s actually crazy good at piano hahah.
Where can fans find you online?
Thanks for the interview!