ALT ROCK OUTFIT BEAR WITNESS ON “DREAMS OF FAME” EP:
A message of hope to help people through their own struggles.
“We’re all reaching for that sense of meaning and wonder that will make our lives feel extraordinary” Matt, Bear Witness.
SICK AND SOUND has the pleasure to present to its readers an interview our editor-in-chief Alessandra had with BEAR WITNESS from Birmingham, England, belonging to the alternative rock soundscape. Bear Witness originally formed as a side project by guitarist Matt Georgiou and brother and drummer Alex Georgiou in 2013 as a way to vent some creativity whilst being part of their primary band. Bear Witness quickly became the main focus of the two, who strengthened by their brotherly chemistry, produced a large catalogue of material in a short few months. Over the course of time the duo integrated more members across a turmoil of lineup changes until most recent bassist was introduced as a vital member of the band: Liam Mead.
We are now getting a chance to get to catch up with Matt and Bear Witness on the band, their latest news and upcoming music, as well as discuss in depth their Dreams Of Fame EP released on 28th February 2018.
- Hello Bear Witness! We would love to more about you. What can you tell us about your journey into music until today?
Hello! Well me (Matt) and Alex are brothers and have played music together since the first time we picked up instruments. I was 10 and Alex was 8 when I started playing guitar and he began playing drums, almost immediately we were trying to play together, it was just so much fun! We specialised in doing bad renditions of Beatles, Nirvana and Green Day songs haha. Especially Green Day, we learnt most of their discography and would play the songs non-stop, our mum hated it!
From the beginning we both found a real release in playing, it was so cathartic. The beautiful thing is that however you’re feeling, whether it be angry, sad, happy; you can go and create something and it can end up being completely opposite to your emotions. There are times when you can be feeling depressed and go and write the most uplifting, groove based song; or the reverse, you can be feeling really happy and end up writing the most sombre, dark piece of music. That unpredictability is what kept me playing really, I fell in love with the creative aspect and just wanted to play as well as I could so that I could write the best songs possible. I wanted people to feel as amazing as I felt listening to my favourite bands when they listened to my songs. It was the same with Alex really, we’ve been in bands together from the ages of 12 and 10 and the joy of playing has always been the main aspect driving him.
- What influences and bands served as an inspiration to get you into music?
For both of us I think Green Day were by far the biggest inspiration to get into music. I remember hearing American Idiot for the first time and just being blown away by how it made me feel. I was just so excited and full of energy every time I listened to it. Alex and I both got into music purely based off of how amazing that album was I think. We also spent a long time listening to Nirvana, Muse and U2 over those first few years playing music. Those bands were such a huge inspiration for us early on, so much so that we still love them now.
I think the main trick is to try and be continuously inspired, there’s so much wonderful music out there. At the moment we’re really into Nothing But Thieves, Twenty One Pilots, Highly Suspect, Bon Iver, Mutemath and weirdly enough Michael Jackson!
- Alex and Matt, after many lineup changes and much resilience you have shown by strongly believing in your own project, you have found a wicked chemistry with your bassist Liam. So what are the most important aspects to focus on to create a great vibe as a band and be able to write music together?
Unfortunately for us lineup changes have come about because of many things, mainly University commitments. To be honest I’d say we still don’t have it fully cracked, I think the main thing is communication. When we’ve had issues with members it’s always been because resentments have built up over time and we’ve never talked them through, so we try really hard to do that. We all have a shared desire to make the songs as good as possible so we try to put egos aside and do what is best for the song, even if that makes the parts simple in areas of the music.
- I was very curious about the symbol of the bear and the meaning of the name, Bear Witness. What’s the mindset behind that?
We were looking for a name we could brand really, we wanted something that sounded good and could give us an iconic image. Alex found the line ‘Bear Witness’ in a Pearl Jam lyric and we both thought it sounded great. We also loved the idea of being able to use a bear as the ‘look’ of the band. Bears are by far one of our favourite animals and we knew that with a good artist we could make a band image that would stick with people and hopefully intrigue them enough to check out the music.
- DREAMS OF FAME is your debut EP released last 28th February 2018. How has the songwriting process changed since a duo was brought together in 2013 and what elements added up or changed into your sound?
Generally the songwriting process has always been relatively similar, it often starts with a chord progression or a riff accompanied by a melody which I will then show to the band. We then jam through it a bit to flesh it out and see if we like how it sounds as a song. More recently I’ve been trying to write a melody over a recording of the guitar part, as opposed to me singing it whilst playing the guitar. It makes for much more interesting melodies that have a rhythm separate from the guitar. It has made it more difficult to play live though haha.
Over the years I’ve tried to learn as much as I can from all the bands and artists I love, from different chord sequences to how the melody interacts with them. There are loads of little tricks that take songs from being okay to out of this world, since 2013 I’ve been trying to learn as many of those as I can to give our songs that extra bit of magic.
Bear Witness – Liquid Diamond official video:
- What’s the main message that Bear Witness would love to spread with their own music and this EP?
Overall I think it would have to be hope. Our songs are about a variety of things but one recurring aspect is that there is an underlying message within them all that however bad things get, they can get better. Almost all my favourite bands have helped me through some tough times, I assume they do it for everyone; just listening to them can be the lift needed to keep you going. I want our music to have that quality. To help people through their own struggles, just as other bands have for me.
- Let’s talk about the lyrical themes discussed in the record.
Lyrically the record revolves around love, anger, inner torment and modern society. Each song has a separate story behind it. ‘Escaping You’ was written out of the anger and sadness that comes from realising that a girl is just stringing you along; the epiphany that it is never going to play out how you want it to and you need to cut this person out of your life. ‘Liquid Diamond’ is almost the opposite. That sense of peaceful euphoria that comes from being with someone you truly care about, all your worries don’t seem as large an obstacle to overcome. ‘Take Away My Mind’ is probably the darkest song on the EP, looking deeply into how your own mind is often your worst enemy. It is an attack on that horrible voice inside your head that doubts you, often urging you to keep people at a distance as you appear better from afar. Even the worst of places looks good sat on the horizon.
Finally, the title track ‘Dreams of Fame’ is a social commentary on modern society. We’re all told to be afraid of anyone different and grow up comparing ourselves to models and movie stars. What’s left is a feeling of emptiness and a sense that we have no worth; being told the only cure to this is fame and fortune; buying iPhones and wishing the temporary release would last longer than the few hours it does. It shouldn’t be this way. We all deserve to feel like we’re good enough.
- I would love to know more about the sci-fi artwork you have chosen for the record and in what measure it is related to its title.
We wanted some artwork for the EP that was very exciting and eye catching; we wanted the artwork to be seen as a separate piece of art really, something that used colour in a bright and stellar way. We all love sci-fi movies, my favourites personally have to be Star Wars and Bladerunner, so we knew we wanted to incorporate that into our artwork. Mainly because the visuals in sci-fi are so astonishing; galactic landscapes can be the most beautiful of things, the sparkles amidst neon soaked colours create a world that looks so inviting.
The art relates to the song ‘Dreams of Fame’. The single character reaching out to the galaxy represents people in general. We’re all reaching for that sense of meaning and wonder that will make our lives feel extraordinary, that’s what the galaxy represents, that feeling of euphoria and contentment we all seek.
- Three goals that Bear Witness would like to achieve in 5 years’ time in order of priority.
In 5 years we’d love to be able to make a living from our music, not much but just enough to get us by really; we’d also love to get enough of a following to do a sold out UK tour, even if it’s in a bunch of small venues, it would just be great to do. Finally it’d have to be feature on a Jeff Goldblum jazz album haha, man is that guy talented!
- What’s in store for Bear Witness in 2019? Any anticipations you would love to share with our readers, touching on upcoming shows, materials and PERFECT LIVING due out on 18th January 2019.
Well we’ve spent this last year writing and recording our next EP ‘Dawn’ which will be released in summer next year. Perfect Living will be the lead single for the EP, there will be a music video released for the song (and damn it’s so good!), we’re really excited about it. The video is all shot in POV and follows a similar sci-fi vibe as all our artwork. The song is very uptempo and energetic and pairs with the video really nicely, it’s the most excited we’ve been for a release that’s for sure. The song always goes down unbelievably live!
We’re going to be gigging as much as we can to promote the ‘Perfect Living’ single in 2019 and subsequent singles, we’re also going to be having an EP release show in the summer.
Lastly we have some amazing A2 posters of the ‘Perfect Living’ artwork up for sale on our bandcamp, they look unreal, we did buy a few just for ourselves haha. If anyone fancies checking them out the link is here: bearwitnessband.bandcamp.com/merch/limited-edition-bear-witness-neon-solace-poster.
Thank you for your time Bear Witness, we wish nothing but the best for your music and will keep on supporting you into Europe!
Thank you so much for your support!
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