Sometimes I get the pleasure of sitting outside my favorite venue on a beautiful summer day, to enjoy a drink with one of the most engaging and lovely live bands I’ve seen in a while. To be fair, this almost never happens – save for one afternoon this September with the terminally chill and incandescently talented Bear’s Den. Charming lead singer Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones humored (a frazzled) me with some questions about a Boston Duck Tour, told me about some of their favorite new artists and offered some insight into the inspirations of their newest album, Red Earth and Pouring Rain.
You mentioned that one of the inspirations to Red Earth and Pouring Rain was the idle driving you got to experience across America. Austin to Boston is a documentary you were both featured in alongside artists like Ben Lovett (Communion Co-founder, Mumford & Sons), The Staves, Ben Howard and Nathaniel Ratliff – Can you tell me a bit about the tour itself?
Kevin: As a band it was our first tour and our first tour in the U.S. and we did it in style – a fleet of VW camper vans with Ben Howard, The Staves and Nathaniel Rateliff. It was pretty cool, actually.
You guys have been playing quite a few festivals recently, can you speak on how the experience has changed – if at all – from playing with your former trio to now with just the two of you at the helm?
Andrew: Well, it’s different – but not that different in the sense that it is just the two of us, but we actually have four extra session musicians who play with us, so it’s weirdly gotten bigger. It’s a bigger band show now than it was before. The festivals we’ve been playing have been really fun. We did Glastonbury in the UK, which was amazing and loads of others, as well. It’s just been really fun.
When you play Glastonbury – does a part of you just go, “Hm, right where do I go from here? This is epic.”
Andrew: A little bit….
Kevin: It’s just great to play it and you hope to play it next year, like it’s just so great to be there at all.
I’m really passionate about what Communion Music has been doing in the UK and around the US in shedding light on lesser-known bands and amplifying their sounds to new audiences. I used to intern there actually and I know Kevin, you had a big hand in helping it come to be. Is there a way that you guys like providing that platform for younger bands whilst on tour, at all?
Kevin: I guess as a band we don’t foster talent in the same way as that label does but we love taking people out on tour – like we have Liza out on the road with us at the moment –
Andrew: SO good.
Kevin: She’s great and it’s just good to hang. You do just learn off people when you tour with them, you know?
Speaking of touring around, it must be hard to explore every city you hit because of the time constraints but is there anything in Boston you’ve wanted to see or check out?
Andrew: We played at Café 939 twice, The Sinclair once and think we might have done one other show here, as well. I’ve not been to a Red Sox game. I’ve been to a Chicago White Sox game….
Don’t say that too loudly here.
Andrew: No, I know! I just got lucky and a friend had an extra ticket. I would love to go and see the Red Sox play – that would be amazing.
No Duck Tour on your radars?
Kevin: Isn’t that one of those amphibious things?
We like to think of it as a charter boat.
Kevin: I think we looked into it once. Danny our last Tour Manager told us we had to do it.
Yeah, I’m feelin’ that for your next music video.
Kevin: Well, there you go. Sorted.
Andrew: That would be great, actually. We never really get time in Boston. We’re usually always either headed to Montreal or getting here later from there. For some reason that’s just how our tours are always rooted. I’d love to stay and explore because we really do love it and find it a great place to come play.
Foy Vance recently played Café 939, they have a lot of lovely people performing there as of late. Are there any artists you’ve been listening to that have been a source of inspiration or just on your playlists?
Andrew: We love Foy, he’s a great guy! So many American artists like Springsteen and Tom Petty were really inspirational whilst writing. Tears for Fears…Don Henley… yeah, yeah. The Eagles – that kind of stuff is what we listened to for the past year or two.
You can’t bring up Don without me asking if you’re catching Stevie Nicks on tour…
Andrew: Oh my god. That’s the dream.
I work at a college radio station so a lot of what my job is, is bringing local bands that kids haven’t heard of to the forefront of their minds and providing that platform for them. I also love bringing in artists who used to busk in the Brighton Lanes like James Bay used to and shed light on their work – that kind of thing – are there any bands we wouldn’t necessarily be aware of that you’d like to shed some light on?
Andrew: Christof, who plays with us, is pretty great. He’s amazing. Oh man, so many bands.
How long have you guys known each other?
Kevin: Oh boy, 9/10 years?
Was there a show growing up that made you think – “Oh, fuck I need to do this with my life” too?
Andrew: He saw Guns N’ Roses live. Spoiled that was. That would make me want to make music.
Kevin: Yeah…that wasn’t moving emotionally, though.
…but it moved me in other ways.
Axl Rose didn’t do it for ya in that way?
Kevin: Not really.
Andrew: But what about ‘Patience’.
Kevin: Yeah. I ‘spose. Right but I think it was more what you were saying before – our friend’s bands acted as great motivation to keep making great music. You can just get really moved by the music of people that you know. I think that’s really something.
Bear’s Den start their next US Tour this January. Tickets can be found here. They play Brighton Music Hall on January 31st.