Bear Witness Interview

  1. What inspired the name of the band and what are your influences?

The name actually came from a Pearl Jam song. I was just reading through some of their lyrics and the words ‘Bear Witness’ just really stuck out to me. I also thought having the word ‘bear’ in the name would mean we could play off it for a logo and some cool artwork later down the line.

We have quite a diverse list of influences, we both listen to different things and that really gives us a unique sound. To name a few: Nirvana, Muse, Mutemath, Nothing But Thieves, Prince, Highly Suspect, Twenty One Pilots, Michael Jackson, The Weeknd, Jeff Buckley, Kings of Leon, Goo Goo Dolls, Post Malone, The Glitch Mob, Jack White, Pearl Jam, Chris Cornell, the list goes on and on! Most importantly though we’re really inspired by Jeff Goldblum – just as a human, he’s amazing!

  • How do you approach songwriting? Are there any themes that you are keen to explore when you start off?

It often starts with a melody and a chord sequence or riff, most of the time they come hand in hand, so I have a rough idea of the final melody straight away. I’ll then whittle it down and make adjustments to make the melody as good and interesting as possible. The next step tends to be creating other sections of the song, and simultaneously deciding on the arrangement of those sections. Will it start with a chorus or a verse? Will there be a bridge? Deciding on what part should be the chorus etc.

The lyrics tend to get written around the sound of the melody and how it flows, that way the words can hopefully move and interact with the melody in the best way possible. However sometimes I’ll just sit down and write lyrics without referring to the music, that’s often if I’ve got something quite specific I want to express, I then try singing the lyrics over the music and see what melodies work.

Over this same period we’re both also experimenting with the rhythm of the song and trying to think of cool ideas for a beat. We always try to make the groove something that people can move to, and if it’s for a chorus keep it uncluttered enough to give that Dave Grohl-esque kind of drum power, Alex is really good at that.

But there are times when none of this applies, sometimes songs are written in half an hour (Ghost off of our new EP ‘DAWN’) and sometimes they take 5 years to write! (‘No Emotion’ off ‘DAWN’ took this long – the chorus was a damn nightmare to write! Haha)

Most of the time the theme is just however I’m feeling really, we don’t sit down and decide ‘this song should be about love’ or anything like that. It tends to just be a natural release of whatever’s being held inside.

  • Why do you write the sort of music that you do?

That’s hard to pin point really, there’s a number of reasons. One would have to be because we love that style of music, we love Alternative Rock that has cinematic elements combined with beautiful moments. We aim to write music that we would want to listen to. I even listen to our upcoming EP ‘DAWN’ when I’m wandering around sometimes haha.

Another would be that we listen to a wide variety of music and really enjoy it all, so naturally we try to put our favourite elements of each into our music: the cool rhythms of funk, the power of rock, the passion of soul. The mixture comes in different ratios but all our songs contain some of our influences; some are more rocky, others more rhythmic, others more melodic. We like to think they all have a bit of a ‘Bear Witness’ sound though.

  • How do you decide what songs to perform live and how do you transpose them into that live setting?

Ultimately we just pick our favourites, but there are a few things you have to consider for a live set; the number of slow, melodic songs for example. You see if you have a half hour set you don’t really want to put any more than 2 slow songs in there as the crowd will get bored. We try to load our sets with as much energy as possible so we can ensure the crowd has the best time possible, we also throw in a couple of our more ‘pretty’ songs to add variety and a bit of beauty to the set.

When we were a 3 piece we would just strip the songs back to one guitar but since we’ve become a 2 piece it’s forced us to up our game. We now use a full backing track rig, so the songs sound almost identical to the record! It’s so much fun to play them. It’s also allowed us to be a lot more creative with the set; we can add interesting transitions between songs and allow for moments of crowd interaction throughout. It’s been a lot of work to set up but is so satisfying to do.

  • What are your plans for the future?

Well the main objective is to get to a point where we can make a living off the music. We’ve got our 2nd EP ‘DAWN’ coming out on the 18th of October which is definitely our best material yet. The songs are just better, and I like to think we’ve gotten better as musicians too. We’re releasing the single ‘Tokyo’s Ruin’ alongside it, which is a song we’re both really excited about sharing with everyone. It’s a massive song that almost feels like it should be the soundtrack to a film haha. We’re releasing the music video with it and we put so much effort into making it: we learnt how to use special FX, storyboarded the entire thing and shot in some crazy places; the peak of Mt. Snowdon to name one of them! The film was inspired a lot by Bladerunner and other sci fi, so it follows a similar dystopian storyline. You’ll have to watch it to find out more!

Following from that we’ve already got some cool ideas in the works for the 3rd EP, we’ve got a solid idea for the sound and hopefully it’s going to break some boundaries between genres. It’s definitely sounding pretty awesome so far and we can’t wait for it be done so we can start playing some of the songs live!

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