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INTERVIEW: Bear Witness

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

We’re good! Just been putting the finishing touches to the EP, we’re so excited to show it to everyone.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Perfect Living”?

Of course we can. ‘Perfect Living’ is a high tempo, energetic and bouncy rock song, we wanted to write a song that had some real groove in the verses and a chorus that would make the crowd just want to bounce around like idiots! We’re really pleased with how it turned out.

Lyrically the song is about the loss of joy and time that comes with becoming an adult. The monotonous march of everyday life as you wish for the weekend. The title ‘Perfect Living’ is a sarcastic remark targeted at adult life. Everyone’s struggling, however no one will let it show; putting up a colour corrected, highlight reel of their life to all who ask. Adult life is the farthest thing from Perfect Living, which is what made the lyric so satisfying to write.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

It wasn’t as much a particular event really; it was more a period of time. It came about in the 6 months/year following when we all finished university. We started looking into how to pursue music properly whilst trying to support ourselves and in general nothing was really happening for us. Our life had starkly changed from the lively and enjoyably immersive years at university to something very flat and stale: a standardized, soul crushing routine. Adult life. It was as if we had experienced flight and then been bound to the ground with iron chains.

Undoubtedly when you chase a dream in music there’s always that small voice in your head that asks ‘what will I do if nothing happens? I’m going to have to move on with life in some way.’ The notion of having to give up on music and continue indefinitely with this soul crushing routine utterly terrified us. We started questioning how anyone else seemed to handle all of this, how do you continue, with no end in sight, just gradually becoming more and more worn down? The song was born out of that struggle, that and realizing that everyone is struggling in some way, though they’ll never show it.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

There is! We produced and directed the video ourselves and it features the use of a continuous POV camera shot through the entirety of the video. Inspired from our love of sci-fi films such as Bladerunner and Star Wars, the video forms the first chapter of a 3 part short film titled DAWN which we will be releasing alongside the DAWN EP. It follows the character Alexios who is part of a small group of people who are born with stellar markings on their body, giving them an ability to manipulate reality. The film centers around Alexios in his encounters with DAWN, the government agency created to destroy his kind. The video showcases a few of Alexios’ abilities, most notably his ability to shift location, a skill many of his kind share. The world begins to flutter erratically and colours become bright and neon infused, bathing reality in a luminous jacket of many sizes. This culminates in creating a staggered glitch effect before arriving in a completely new location, teleportation… essentially.

The music video provides the perfect high energy, stimulating visual to accompany the song. We will be releasing the 2nd and 3rd part of the film as music videos for later singles throughout this year to promote the DAWN EP.

The single comes off your new album DAWN – what’s the story behind the title?

As we wrote above DAWN is the title of the short film we are making that will be told through the 3 music videos we will release over the course of this year. We actually created the idea of the film before we’d finished the EP and we found the idea of making a film out of the music videos really inspiring. We wanted the videos to elevate the songs, not just provide a visual of us performing over the recordings. We became enamoured with a cyberpunk infused, sci fi story line and just ran with it. We thought it was only fitting to name the EP after the film we were making out of the music videos for the EP, if that makes sense haha. It was actually so creatively stimulating that we wrote two more songs that made their way onto the EP!

How was the recording and writing process?

The recording and writing process was great. We’re constantly writing, so there’s never really a time where we say: ‘Okay time to write for the next release.’ It’s more we get to a point where we’ve written enough songs that we’re very proud of and we look into recording them. We’ll often write about 50 songs for a release and then whittle them down to a list that we think are the most soulful and undeniable to record properly. Ultimately music comes down to the quality of the songs and we want to make the best songs we possibly can, songs that stir your soul, that make you feel happy, sad and everything in between; music that provides the emotional hand we’re all guilty of needing more than we’ll admit. Whether we succeed on that we can’t be sure haha, but we’ll give it our best attempt.

We record everything ourselves as we’re lucky enough to have a fantastic drum set up and a couple of amazing vocal mics. Recording therefore involves a lot of perfectionism. There is no time limit as there would be in a recording studio so we try to get every part of every song recorded perfectly, a laborious but overall rewarding endeavor. We then send it to the incredibly talented Gareth Rogers to mix and master.

What was it like to work with Gareth Rogers and how did that relationship develop?

We have a great relationship with him, he mixed all of the songs on our first EP ‘Dreams of Fame’ after he had been suggested to us by a friend and we were so impressed with how it turned out that we were always going to get him to mix ‘DAWN’. We have a system that seems to work really well when it comes to the recording, we record all of the stuff ourselves in a little small room and then once we feel like we’ve got the songs to the best point they can be we send it off to Gazz to mix and put those touches on it that make it sound really polished – simply putting it awesome haha. Over the course of this EP we definitely perfected how to communicate our vision for the songs to him.

How much did he get to influence the album?

Musically speaking, considering we recorded it ourselves, he didn’t have much scope for influence as it was all already recorded. However, as is the case with all great sound engineers and producers he certainly put his stamp on the mixes. In some songs it was small subtle aspects that created a beautiful atmosphere within the track and in others it was bigger, more noticeable parts that became, for us, standout moments in the songs. Our song ‘Save The Youth I Own’, which will be on DAWN, is a brilliant example of this, he added this choppy, glitch sounding effect to the end of each chorus and it took the song to a whole new level sonically. It’s now one of our favourite songs we’ve ever made.

What role does Birmingham play in your music?

None that we’re aware of, but subconsciously it’s probably affected the music in some way.

How have the Foo Fighters and Nothing But Thieves influenced your writing? 

Nothing But Thieves have been a huge influence on us over these past 3 years. When we first heard them we were all pretty amazed at how varied they were. That in itself was a huge inspiration for us because their growing popularity showed that there was a demand and place for varied alternative rock bands. They also infuse a gritty edge with soulful melodies which we’ve tried to take on board with the songwriting.

Dave, well what can I say about Dave, he’s just an absolute monster. In all seriousness the Foo Fighters have mainly influenced the drumming in our songs. Both Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins are brilliant at creating beats that elevate the music. They also play with so much energy and passion live which has really inspired our drummers playing.

What aspect of social life and humanity did you get to explore on this record?

‘Perfect Living’ was the main song where social life and humanity were a focal point lyrically, looking into the anger and helplessness that arrives hand in hand with the difficulty of finding purpose and sense of worth in adult life. Fundamentally everyone wrestles with this at some point in their lives, more and more so now that us and a couple of generations before us have grown up watching extraordinary stories of wonder and encouraged to chase our dreams with the belief that our lives will be amazing. There’s a quote from Fight Club which sums this up perfectly, Tyler Durden says: ‘Our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives, we’ve been all raised by television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires and movie gods and rock stars, but we won’t and we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.’ That quote in its entirety sums up the aspects of social life and humanity that we explored on the EP.

What made you want to approach this record with a sarcastic tone?

In a strange way sarcasm can often come out of anger, it’s quite a British attribute to insult something by saying how stupendously good it is. Anger was the driving creative force that made ‘Perfect Living’, the anger that life is so ridiculously far away from being perfect, yet everyone is all so busy trying to fool each other into thinking they’re having a wonderful time. A room full of people wearing beautiful masks.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

The lyrics throughout the EP centre around introspection and one’s own personal trials and demons. The majority of the songs are written from the base of trying to deal with different types of fear and pain that if left unchecked can make life go numb. It deals with a lot of toxic emotions that can twist and distort the person who you used to be. Writing the music for this EP was our catharsis throughout 2018. In facing yourself through writing music you can see from an outside perspective and often find ways to better yourself. There’s always an underlying message of hope within the songs, mainly because when writing music the hopeful and optimistic side of you takes full control, free from stress and worries. We also want our music to help people when they’re feeling down, as all of our favourite artists do for us.

Other lyrical themes on the EP include heartbreak and storytelling. There’s a song on the EP called ‘Reverie’ which lyrically we’re most proud of. We were inspired to write a song entirely in 3rd person that told the story of a man who had lost the love of his life in pursuing a film career. It follows him as he chooses his career over her. Years down the line sees her with a child and another man and is overwhelmed by emotions. The song continues as he attempts to hold it together whilst making small talk with her and then breaks down once she has gone, questioning all the decisions he has made. We were inspired a lot by Jeff Buckley for this song and knew we wanted to tell a story with the song that had a complex and heartbreaking narrative. It was challenging but so inspiring to work on. It definitely won’t be the last of its style that we write.

Any plans to hit the road?

We haven’t got any solid plans yet but we’re just looking to gig as much as possible to promote the EP.

What else is happening next in Bear Witness’ world?

We are currently filming and editing parts of the music video for the 2nd single which has been really fun. It’s looking so good. We are also working on some new songs for the 3rd EP at the moment, they’re still in the demo phase but they are starting to sound pretty awesome!

Listen to Bear Witness ‘Perfect Living’

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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