What’s in the water in Leeds? For years and years they’ve been producing one stonking band after another; from Pulled Apart By Horses and Dinosaur Pile-Up to Brawlers and Allusondrugs (though they’re *technically* Castleford way…) As well as the bands themselves, you’ve also got the Brudenell Social Club – A working men’s club with a 1950’s look that’s also a music venue, adored by music lovers across the land. Leeds bleeds music.
One Leeds band that’s on the up and has been receiving a lot of praise this year is three-piece Bearfoot Beware. I’ve seen them a handful of times in the past year and they always smash it, often stealing the show. During the writing of their debut album, they shared stages big and small with the likes of Maps & Atlases and hometown boys Pulled Apart By Horses, refining and altering songs as they went.
Recorded over six days at Greenmount studios in Leeds, their debut album ‘World Owes You Nowt’ was released at the end of April, with reviews positively glowing. A few months on from its release, guitarist Tom and bassist Ric were kind enough to answer some questions for Birthday Cake For Breakfast on World Owes You Nowt, collisions on the M62 and their DIY ethos.
BCFB: Your debut album ‘World Owes You Nowt’ was released at the end of April. How does it feel to have it out for people to hear?
Ric: It’s great to finally have it out and we are really happy with the final piece. It has taken some time in writing the songs and each one usually has a good few edits until we are happy, so to have the finished thing out and the structure set in stone is great.
Tom: The songs are never REALLY finished. We just get to a point where we’re happy with them as they are. Now we can move onto album two!
How have people been responding to it?
R: We have always managed to be a bit of a mar-mite band, a bit too heavy for some, not heavy enough for others but the reactions we have had back have been mainly positive so far. The first review we had was a negative one and everything after that was really positive.
T: I think people are liking the heavier direction. It’s totally not a conscious thing. We got some PRS money in after playing Leeds and Reading Festival a couple of years ago. We used it to buy better and louder equipment and it kind of developed from there. We always wanted to be louder anyway.
Can you tell us a bit about the whole process behind the album? It’s been in the works for quite a while, right?
R: I think the album has been written in 5 different practice rooms; each one was meant to be a permanent fixture. The songs have been trialed in Europe and the UK bit by bit and then edited according to reactions, I think all the upheaval and different crowds giving reactions has left us with a dynamic and varied sound, which is just what we wanted. No two songs are ever written in the same way, we start with a guitar or bass riff we kind of like and end up using it in a bridge or not using it at all.
T: So many riffs and melodies get thrown away, usually after a few hours of arguments. We can be pretty bitchy to each other when writing. Probably not the nicest of bands to be around. But after that it’s all cool.
What and who inspired you during the writing and record process?
T: We didn’t really have particular bands or musicians we wanted to sound like. We didn’t want to sit in a room and say ”OK let’s do it like this”. We wanted the album to be eclectic and varied while still sounding like Bearfoot Beware. Bands and musicians who generally influence us are DC Hardcore bands like Fugazi and later the math rock incarnations of Devin Ocampo (Faraquet/Medications). Also At the Drive-In have always been a big influence on us, along with The Mars Volta. But we all have our own influences too. I like psych, garage and prog rock at times too. Ric loves his Math and Hardcore. Mike likes a lot of Experimental Electronica, so I guess we always just try and find a happy medium. It’s more fun to not set an agenda and just go for it.
Have you got any particular favourite tracks?
R: I would list them but I think it would end up being the entire album save one or two songs. I really enjoy playing Mumzee, just because I get to scream FUCK over and over, and Smoker for its simplicity.
T: The opening track of the album ‘ Thick Black War Paint’ set the tone for it all. It was the first song we wrote and helped us find our happy place. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever managed to fit a dedicated guitar solo in a Bearfoot song. So that feels nice *strokes ego*. Lyrically I think it helped me set upon some fundamental themes I wanted to talk about too.
You went on a tour around the UK in support of the new album. What were some of the highlights? Any particular stand out dates?
R: All the shows were great fun and it was great to be able to see some friends in bands like Quadrilles and Vasa. We had to miss one show due to a collision on the M62 between two lorries, sorry Liverpool. I really enjoyed playing with Quadrupede in Sheffield’s Audacious Art Experiment. Great venue, great band, great night.
You’re fully DIY in approach – What is it about being a DIY band that’s important to you?
R: I think we just have an idea of what we want and how we want to do it; at this stage I’d feel bad asking someone else to put their money into us. At least when we don’t get paid we can be happy in the experiences. I don’t think Mikey Manager or Larry Label are looking to lose money but let us have a good time.
T: What’s the point in sitting around and waiting for shit to come to you? Go and work for it. That’s where we kind of got the idea for the album title from. The way we’ve approached releasing this album is out of necessity rather than ethos. We have to do these things, release records, tour, set up shows etc. If someone can do the job better and it’s worth using them then I’m happy to do that. But at the end of the day, the only people who can probably do the job best, are you.
On that theme, what can you tell us about the art space CHUNK that you’re involved with?
R: It’s a rehearsal studio rented out by a number of musicians as a space to practice. Beyond that we are a collective that allows the members to put on shows. We may expend into external promoters but as it stands for now we want to keep the shows limited and awesome.
T: It’s a rabble of weirdos hell bent on ruining THE MAN’S plan for musical/cultural domination (please take comments with a pinch of salt). It’s spread from being a bit more than a practice space now. Spawned a label, a venue and become a club of musical friends in Leeds working to enhance our collective scene.
With the release of the album and the reception it’s been receiving, are things pretty rosy in the Bearfoot Beware camp?
T: We want more, more and some more.
R: We are just excited to start writing again and hopefully get some more songs together so we can do it all again. We plan to hit Europe in the coming months and do a few more shows around the UK.
World Owes You Nowt is out now and can be purchased here (on gorgeous vinyl no less!)
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