An interview by Dylan Bryant (Music Editor)

Since forming in 2012, Bear’s Den have established themselves as one of the UKs most powerful folk-rock artists. Made up of Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones, the duo have an incredible talent for writing bold and powerful anthemic songs. Having been a fan since the release of ‘Islands’ in 2014, I have seen Bear’s Den add a variety of new sounds into their music; and with their new material particularly there’s more of a synthy rock sound. I had the chance to ask some questions ahead of the release of their new album, and started by asking how this evolution came about.

“Wow! Thanks so much for the support since back in the day! Our music has definitely evolved since then, both subconsciously and consciously I think. To be honest, I think we’re governed by what we find inspiring musically and by what we feel the song is asking from us. Sometimes that’s more electronic instrumentation, sometimes more rocky, and sometimes still the more intimate acoustic instruments. It really is an album by album, song by song kinda thing.” 

Channelling more of the rich and euphoric direction, ‘Frightened Whispers’ is the latest release and serves up a vibrant dose of elegant song writing. The song rises to a crisp crescendo and features saxophone from Matt Douglas (Bon Iver, Josh Ritter, Sylvan Esso). Discussing the song writing process behind this track, frontman Andrew Davie says- 

“This song started its life during a song a day challenge I did with Christof Van Der Ven. The challenge was to write and finish a song in a day and send it to each other. It really helps when you’re finding it hard to write. I wrote a bunch of strange electronic stuff on an organelle synth, an OP1 synth and a Korg Volca Beats thing then scribbled a bunch of stream of consciousness lyrics down that have barely changed. I then shared those ideas with Kev and he added a bunch of awesome guitar, bass and drum ideas too before our live band also got their heads around it and it became the song that it is today.”

Speaking on the song writing process since becoming a duo, Davie says – 

“It’s changed a fair bit since the beginning of Bear’s Den. When we were a three (with Joey Haynes), we spent a lot of time in rehearsal studios playing through songs – but after he left, the collaboration started happening more in the studio. To some extent I’ll always get the ball rolling with a song and then both Kev and I will play around with lots of different musical ideas ‘til we’re really happy and excited about it – then we invite some of the other guys in to help flesh out those ideas even more.”

The duo’s highly anticipated new album ‘Blue Hours’ is set to be released on May 13th. Speaking on the meaning behind the albums name, Davie explains – 

“Blue Hours was the name of a hotel both Kev and I had stayed at in Morocco and it was a pretty magical place. The name Blue Hours just felt really interesting to us and felt like a really cool mood for us to explore musically and for me, lyrically, I think it felt like a really good name for the headspace I get into when I’m writing lyrics late at night. That’s normally quite a solitary headspace and in the pandemic it kinda felt like everyone was stuck in their own solitary headspace too.”

Reluctantly bringing up the pandemic, I asked how the band have used the extra time – 

“Well, both of us became dads during the pandemic so I think the songwriting and recording time ended up being shared with each of us respectively changing nappies and listening to Baby Shark on a loop!! In truth, writing songs in the pandemic was really difficult and a lot of our friends who are songwriters felt the same. We’re really proud of the album on multiple levels but I think given how difficult it was to write and finish the songs, I’m so pleased with how they came out and evolved.”

In support of the new album, the duo are currently on tour. Speaking on the UK shows, Davie says – 

“I’m really looking forward to the UK tour!! It’s amazing to get back on the road and play for people. We’re in Brussels right now and it’s been great to play for people across Europe – we can’t wait to get back to the UK.”

Themes on ‘Blue Hours’ include self-reflection and mental health. Bear’s Dens lyricism is personal and often involves challenging topics. I asked; “Are you more drawn to writing more personal lyrics as opposed to more generic ones?”

“If I knew how to write differently, I would definitely try!  I think I’ve always used song writing as a way of processing the things I’m finding difficult in my personal life. I really love hearing the details in a story when I listen to other writers, so that’s just naturally how I’ve learned to do it.”

Bear’s Den incorporate various genres into their addictive sound, and I finished by asking about their musical influences – 

“So broad for both of us, so I can only speak for myself really as Kev is a musical encyclopaedia of his own. Personally, my favourite artist at the moment is on tour with us and is called Ciaran Lavery. His songs are all beautiful but “Shame” is insanely beautiful. Getting to hear him play every night has been a real joy and privilege. Live it’s even better than on record.”

Blue Hours to be released 13th May 2022.

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