19 October 2011

Scots Way-Hay #72 - Bear Bones

Yes, I am fully aware that the picture above is a bit shit, but then again how could I resist posting a photo of a man so happy with his bowl of Ricicles. The man in question is of course Ben the lead singer of Bear Bones, an '8 piece ensemble of accordion, brass, bells, banjo, strings, drums and voices'. I first came across the band last year when they released their debut single, 'Oil & Lacquer' late last year, but to my shame I didn't catch them live until just a few months back at the Wickerman Festival. I spent most of that weekend bouncing around like a drunken Duracell Bunny on speed, so some parts of that weekend are a wee bit hazy, I can still vividly recall just how much I enjoyed seeing Bear Bones. Their folk pop tunes are unmistakably Scottish, which as I am sure you know is a major plus point in my books. I caught up with lead singer Ben and his Ricicles to tell us a bit more about the band...

Would you care to introduce yourself to the Peenko readers?

Hi, I'm Ben and I play in a fabulous band called Bear Bones.

It’s that question that all bands seem to hate answering, but how would you describe the music you make?

I'd describe it as miserable drivel pimped out with beautiful melodies. There are a lot of layers and we aim to keep lots of the best parts subtle so that the songs unravel as you get to know them.

How did the band come together then?

I started writing songs for this project about 3 years ago but it took a long time to get to the stage where we had "a band". It's been a very fluid ensemble over the years and I've just realised that we've had nearly 20 different members since we started trying to piece it together.

So where does the band name come from then?

The name comes from the idea that I wanted the songs, first and foremost, to work with just acoustic guitar and vocals. I didn't want to be turning down gigs because the bassoon player had hurt his back or whatever. So that's where the idea of Bare Bones came from but that sounds lame and since we're more twee than an oak with a speech impediment I thought I better force an animal name in there too.

Is there a certain process that goes into the way you write songs?

The songs always start with just me and guitar and they go no further until the structure, guitar bits, melodies and lyrics are done. Then I usually play the song through to the band and realise I hate lots of it so take it back home and change those bits. Once that's done I write the other bits and take it back to the band and we learn it and make sure it all works. Basically, it's a very long process for me but a very short process for everyone else.

What artists would you say have had the biggest influence on the band?

Since I write the songs I guess it's everything I listened to growing up. Now, I could lie and name drop lots of credible bands but I'm not going to do that - the biggest influences on Bear Bones have been Kenny Rogers, The Dubliners and hours and hours and hours of Born To Do It by Craig David.

What would you like someone who’s listening to your music for the first time to take away from your music?

Preferably nothing about Craig David. The first time, all you can hope for is a hook that makes people want to listen again. Then on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th listens the intention is that listeners find more and more reasons to come back.

Do you feel that where you come from has had much of an impact on the music that you create?

A massive impact. I grew up on the Isle of Islay and, as clich├ęd as it sounds, never appreciated all the great things about it until I left. I was desperate to move to "the mainland" and meet new people. Now that I've met everyone in Glasgow I find myself pining for awesome Islay things like jumping off the pier even though you don't want to (pier pressure) or going to the beach at night and it being darker than Frankie Boyle doing a gig at Yorkhill. Lots of the songs I'm writing recently are based around things that happened on Islay and the music is certainly rooted in the Islay folk scene.

What has been your most memorable gig to date, (be it good or bad)?

The first time we got everyone to sit on the floor at the Captain's rest was awesome. Our music works so much better when people are sitting rather than standing and that was the first time we realised that. To be honest, since then, every show we've played has been amazing. We don't play that much so we're very lucky that when we do we seem to get the best people in the world coming along.

Aside from world domination, what are your plans for the rest of the year and beyond?

Just the world domination if I'm being totally honest. We've got some recording sessions booked to make a start on the album which is very exciting. We can't wait to get it finished and then force people to listen to it until they like us. That's the dream.

Bear Bones - Oil & Lacquer

Bear Bones play at Stereo tomorrow (20th October) along with Kitty The Lion, Chasing Owls and Bella Spinks. Further information on the gig can be found here.


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