This new age rock band has been making huge waves fast. Coming from the Big Smoke of London, Hunter & The Bear offer a refreshing new melody. In a scene full of heavy artists, they bring in a soft yet strong sound. Recently I had the chance to talk with their frontman, Will Irvine.
LJ DeWitt: Please introduce yourselves, include roles in the band, and to keep this part from getting boring, include something random about yourselves. Hunter & The Bear: We are Will (lead vocal), Jimmy (lead guitar), Gareth (drums) and Chris (bass). We play rock music and have a yellow van called Vincent. LJ: Over the years I've heard a lot of contrasting opinions from London bands about their local scene. How do you guys feel about it? What's your favorite hometown venue to play? Will: It sometimes feels like everyone that lives in London is trying to start a band. If you can get noticed in the crossfire then it's a great place to be. There are so many good venues and loads of genuine music fans to play for. Favourite venue would have to be The Borderline. We're playing there on June 14th. It's gonna be a rowdy one! LJ: Do you have any bands you like to play/party with a lot? Will: We've met so many awesome bands on our travels and partied with loads of them. We played a charity event supporting Simple Minds and had a great night with them afterwards. They've still got it! Hearing all their old touring stories from when they were starting out like us was pretty amazing. Cool guys. LJ: Musicians have to go to great lengths to spread their message and music. Unfortunately, that can land them in some pretty shady places. Throughout all the places you've played, has there ever been a city or situation where you genuinely felt you'd die? Will: We've had a couple sketchy moments in some dodgy towns when it comes to the end of the night and we're trying to get paid. We were on tour in Spain having just played a gig to a packed out venue. Everyone was on a massive high because we weren't expecting to sell that many tickets at that stage. We went up to the offices to collect the money at the end and had a heated exchange with the added issue of a huge language barrier. The office door was closed and there were a couple of enormous bouncers staring us down. Happy to say we stood our ground and got paid properly in the end but we've never left a venue faster than that! Safe to say we won't be going back there. Spain was epic though, we'll just skip that venue next time. Adios. LJ: Have you ever "lost" a band member before a show? If so, where was he to be found? Will: We've never properly lost anyone before a show but Clarky (bass) is the king of the last minute faff. There's always something that he forgets to do until the second we're meant to be on stage. We'll often be announced on stage and he's behind the curtain trying to find his boots or scribble down a quick set list. The rest of us just have to make sure we walk out slowly... LJ: Who's the band's trouble maker? Worst trouble he's ever gotten himself or the band into? Will: We're all partial to a bit of trouble making but Gareth always gets us into awkward situations because of his inability to say no. We were on tour in America and we'd just finished a great show in New Jersey. People always want to take us out and party after the show which is normally great but we had a 5 hour night drive to the next city so we obviously knew we had to head off sharpish. Next thing we know, four local ladies old enough to be our mothers approach and start to chat to us. Normally this would of course be fine and we'd chat music, gigs and whatever else but this lot only had one thing on their agenda. I was taken aside by the ring leader and this is genuinely what she said in her thick New Jersey accent and knee high floral pattern leather boots: "Y'all should stay here. I've got 4 bottles of tequila, 4 beds and 4 girls that wanna have a good time". I explained that whilst I was flattered, we had to hit the road to get to the next city for more shows. I didn't think much else of it until 10 minutes later when I learnt that they'd twisted Gareth's arm into saying yes and that we were all supposedly about to head downtown with them! Once they thought we were going with them they would not take no for an answer. Our only option was to dive into the hire car, guitars in hand and put pedal to the metal leaving them and the venue in a haze of tyre smoke. That kept us entertained for the remainder of the 5 hour night drive. LJ: In June, you'll be embarking on The Paper Heart Tour. Do you have any newfound hopes or fears for this tour? Will: We just cannot wait to get out there with the album and play for everyone. The singles have been received really well so far which is a great sign so we only hope the album will get the same reaction. You only get one first album so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit nervous about how it'll all go. The live show is in a great place and we're ready to unleash it on everyone that comes along. Tickets are selling fast which is a really nice feeling. Playing to sell out crowds is our favourite thing to do in the whole world. Bring it on! LJ: Recently you released your newest single "Paper Heart". Who was responsible for writing the track? What were the inspirations and struggles that went into the writing process? Will: Jimmy and I write the songs together and Paper Heart was no different. We've written the majority of this album about people. Whether that's ourselves, our friends/family or people we meet on the road, it just seems to be what we relate to best. This one actually kind of wrote itself really quickly which is always a good sign. Feeling vulnerable is something we've all experienced at some point in our lives so it felt really natural to write on that theme, albeit a little sad. LJ: Out of your whole discography, which song would you say you're the most emotionally invested in and why? Will: We released a stripped back acoustic single a while back called 'Wounded'. We wrote it when we found out one of our best friends had been diagnosed with testicular cancer. It was kind of a letter of intent to him about how we would be right there with him throughout the whole ordeal and basically how he was gonna kick cancer's ass. That's exactly what he did and the song now acts as a shoulder for any people in the same situation, of which there are obviously many. We've received so many nice letters and emails about how much the song has helped people in a time of need. We never anticipated it having that strong an effect on others but I'm really happy that it has. LJ: Aside from your own, 3 albums you'd want to be buried with? Will: Biffy Clyro - Puzzle, Bruce Springsteen - Darkness On The Edge of Town, Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon LJ: Finally, is there any last statements, random facts, or words of wisdom you'd like to leave with your fans? Will: See you all on the Paper Heart Tour for a wild one. We'll be the four sweaty guys up the front.
e. Rachel Rosell