I Fight Bears: Back From Hibernation

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I FIGHT BEARS are back. After an absence since 2018’s storming debut album. 2022 sees the quintet return with heavy weight EP, Liberosis as well as charging into the limelight by winning a Bloodstock slot through Metal 2 The Masses. So, wiping the humidity induced mist from the webcam on a very warm night, we dialled into a chat with bassist/vocalist Drew Hamley and guitarist Marc James.

Discussing straight off the reasons for the break and the return, Drew explains, “we did take a break for a little bit for personal reasons and the pandemic hit. We all realised over time, post pandemic that we all missed doing this and we had these songs that we wanted to put out.” It’s clear that the break taken has reinforced the band. “We’re better for it, back, reengaged and firing on all cylinders,” Drew confirms, with Marc echoing, “it’s more of a deeper bond now, we used to be a group of friends just getting together for fun. There’s now a realisation that oh shit, we’re closer than we thought and we’re a lot better than we thought initially.”

This new found confidence has bled through onto the new EP. When we discuss that with two recordings available, what would be the best place for newcomers to get a feel for the sound and direction of the band. There’s barely a pause from Marc, “I’d definitely encourage anyone to check out the new EP. It’s a representation of where we are now and a representation of what you can expect to hear live. It’s a development for us and the result of a lot of hard work.” Liberosis represents the most developed record from I FIGHT BEARS and for those that have heard it, it would be hard to argue. Drew offers, “the album was us finding our feet, we were five guys that had just started working together and knew the ball park of where we wanted to be musically but didn’t’ really know. And now we know!”

Discussing the EP’s development, Marc talks of a unified creation process. “We would sit and help develop each other’s idea. There’s no goal of I’ve heard this and want to put it in there, it’s more what serves the song better. More in the moment creative process than pre-planned which makes it more exciting in the song writing room which then translates, I think, for the audience.” Drew muses on a film writing reference, “that directors miss being in the room when cutting and editing, because of the thinking time that process provides. Whereas now editing is so fast that it cuts that thinking time out. We’ve had the opportunity to spend a long time with these tracks put them down and come back and pick up on bits that might need changing.” Marc chimes in, “we like to think we have a unique sound as the five of us have unique tastes and we all have a say in what comes out.”

There is common theme that runs through several of their tracks. Songs often touch upon mental health and individual struggle. “We try to write from a place that people can identify with. Something that we identify with lyrically because then it means more to us when we play it live. We don’t set out to do that but it ends up that’s what happens.” We postulate on how the world has been turned upside down with Covid, politics and how events have been detrimental on everyone’s mental health. The dominating news story of the past couple of years will not make it into the band’s setlist. “We will not do any songs on the pandemic!” Drew laughs it away, “We’d rather forget that!” Other elements are introduced for the new record. “Beacon is about the passing of Stan Lee. “That affected Dan [Blackmore, vocals] and me as huge fans of marvel and comics. We wanted to honour him and honour the idea of what a hero is and how people look up to those heroes because they need to.” These ideas are certainly personal to a point, “a lot of us in the band have been through a lot and it’s a therapy. Whenever I write lyrics it’s a therapy, whether people think it’s miserable or not. No one has a go at THE SMITHS for being miserable!”

This is a band having a good time as Marc summarises. “We’re in a place where we’re making music, we’re excited by the music, we’re excited to play. It feels good.” There is a gleam of excitement in their eyes when we shift focus to their recent Metal 2 The Masses success. Drew launches into a timeline of how it went down. “There were eight heats in the start, we were with four bands there. The quarters another four bands, semi was four bands and the final was six including us. It was a mad experience; it was never the goal to go in and try to win. It was to go in and just play. We had this EP coming out, Covid had been horrible and Metal 2 The Masses has these shows and a crowd if we’re lucky. We just kept getting through the rounds. There was definitely a couple of times where I thought that that other band was awesome, we’re not getting through.” He goes on to say of the final, “it could have been anybody’s, all the previous rounds had three judges from the area. The final had only Simon [Hall, Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses and Unsigned Bands] judging. And we had no clear idea of what he was looking for. And every band in that final, as far as we’re concerned, absolutely deserved to win that. Having our name called at the end, I’m still getting my head around it!”

Talking about what can be expected from the Bloodstock performance, Marc doesn’t hold back his smile. “We want to offer a smooth operation being professional but enjoy ourselves. Getting on stage, destroying the place and getting off hopefully before anyone catches us for the bill,” Drew offers. “We’re locked in at 27 minutes, and whatever happens, like if I break a leg, we’re gonna keep going!” Confident and excited at the prospect ahead reiterating the love they have for playing. “We get to do what we love to do and do it how we want to do it.” They emphasise that they don’t have a demand for people to see them. “We don’t see it as ‘hey, we’re the winners you should check us out’. We’re the ones fortunate enough to be chosen to represent South Wales. We’re not trying to prove anything; we’re just trying to do what we do and if people like it great!” It looks like they’re keen to transmit their sense of fun at every opportunity on the live stage. “We’re gonna have a good time and anyone that shows up will be part of the I FIGHT BEARS family,” Marc summarises with Drew adding, “we’re here to have fun, come and have fun with us, we love to entertain.”

When talk turns to the future. They’ve got sights set on a follow up EP and there is a drive continue to grow and play live. That’s highlighted when pressed on any bucket list gigs. Both Drew and Marc without hesitation suggest Download. With Marc “I know personally for me, I want to play Download, if there’s one thing on my list, it’s that festival.” Drew concurs, “Download, it has to be Download, I’d play in the toilet with a guitar if it meant I was on the bill!”

They’re not a band that takes themselves seriously, they fight bears in their music videos and can put their tongue firmly in cheek as the cover of SPANDAU BALLET’s Gold would suggest. Something that started as a joke in a pub that escalated. While they both acknowledge it’s popularity, anyone looking for a follow up shouldn’t hold their breath. “We don’t want to be known as the band that did that cover.”

What is clear from the conversation is I FIGHT BEARS are now looking to seize 2022, they’re hungry and determined. The EP represents them at the high point of where they are now, and they’ve got their biggest gig to date ahead of them. Bloodstock is set to be the gig that will see them deliver their full might. Or, as Marc puts it, “a fucking arse kicking! We’re not just five guys on a stage playing instruments. It’s a show that’s been made for entertainment. We’re not just a band playing music and we guarantee you’ll be fucking entertained.”

Liberosis is out now via self-release.

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The post I Fight Bears: Back From Hibernation appeared first on Distorted Sound Magazine.

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