Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to check out UK natives Hunter & The Bear at their first US show. Now we have had the honor of interviewing the band and getting some insight into their US debut, musical inspirations, and find out what’s next for the London based Americana band.
You played a great show last week at Rockwood Musical Hall and it got us wondering, who are your musical influences?
Thank you! We had an epic time playing there. As for influences, we’ve got loads between us. We all share a love for older rock music. Bands like Led Zeppelin, The Band, Dire Straits are always playing in our tour van. Having said that, we’re really into some new stuff too. We’re big Paolo Nutini fans and we love people like Hozier and The Staves too. We like to mix it up really. Anything that is relevant to us, we’ll listen to.
You have great control of your bass and percussion. How does that play into your song writing process? What are the typical steps you take when laying out a new track?
Gareth and Chris (drums and bass) are so good at what they do. They play off each other so well and it makes it really easy for us to fit in over the top. Jimmy and I will normally write a song in full and then take it in to the rehearsal room with the guys to fill it out. It works really well and they’re always sympathetic to what we’ve written. They can get the feel for a new song very quickly. It works well. Long may it continue!
Rockwood was also your first show in America! Can you tell us about that journey and how it feels to finally be out here?
We’ve been looking forward to this for SO long! Everywhere we play in the UK people tell us that we should come to the States. It’s amazing to finally be here and to be getting such a great reaction. This is just a drop in the water. We’ll be back for some more extensive touring as soon as we can!
We loved your story behind the song, “Montana Men.” Can you go into a little more detail about your inspiration for fans?
Ok, I’ll try to keep this short! We stumbled across this story whilst we were up in the Highlands of Scotland on a little writing trip to my hometown, Achiltibuie. In 1910 there was a group of farmers from that area who were running out of options to feed their families as the work wasn’t paying well and there wasn’t enough of it. They got word that good farmers were needed over in America and the pay would be handsome. They had no choice but to take the offer and leave their homes behind so that they could eventually provide for their loved ones. They took the boat across the Atlantic and made it all the way up to Billings, Montana. The conditions were harsh and the work was long but it allowed them to earn enough money to keep them all going. The price was that they had to be apart from their families and their homeland. Some of them returned home years later and some stayed out there. They sent letters, poems and songs back across the Atlantic that can still be read today. The hardship and heartache that we found in these stories made us so keen to write the song and tell this amazing story. “Montana Men” was born!
You’ve also played a couple shows during this year’s CMJ Music Marathon. You really know how to enter the US with a bang! What was that experience like and what was your favorite moment from the festival?
It’s so difficult to pick a favourite moment as its all been great so far. I’d have to go with our first show. It’s been a dream of ours to play here and when we stepped up onto that stage it felt so good to finally be doing it. We won’t forget that feeling in a hurry!
These seem like a whirlwind couple of weeks for you in the States. What’s next for Hunter and the Bear after these shows?
We’ve got a lot going on when we get back home from the States. We head off to Europe to do a tour of France, Germany, Austria and Spain which should be epic! Then we’ll be touring in the UK early next year and tearing our way into festival season with a bang! We’re also looking to get back out here when we can to do some more dates! Basically, LOADS of gigs! Happy days!