Photo Credit: Caitlyn Ebsworthy
On a sunny day at Community Festival in Finsbury Park, we sat down with Iain Gillespie, Nick Peters and Callum Litchfield of Bears in Trees. Following the release of their debut album and everybody else smiled back last year, the band have been continuing to make waves both at home and also across the Atlantic. With them recently announced as one of the supports on You Me At Six’s February 2023 tour, now is the perfect time to find out more and become hooked on their summery, dirtbag boyband sound.
Hi Bears in Trees, can you introduce yourselves and tell us your role in the band?
Iain: My name’s Iain, I play bass and I sing.
Callum: My name’s Callum, I play the ukulele, keys and I sing.
Nick: My name’s Nick and I play the guitar.
You came off stage not too long ago, it was fun for us to watch but how was it for you?
I: It was one of the best shows we’ve played in a while. It was just like electric. We get a lot of energy from the crowd and it’s like this beautiful circular thing when you’ve got a really nice crowd and we’re all in the zone as well.
C: Best show of the Summer, loved it.
For people who haven’t heard of Bears in Trees, how would you sum yourselves up in five words?
N: Inoffensive, pop, rock, and, roll.
C: There you go. If you’d given us anything other than five words we’d have been struggling.
You released your debut album ‘and everybody else smiled back’ last year, how have you found the reaction to it as a band?
I: I think what was really nice was the fans really, really loved it and it was just this beautiful moment of people who were really interested in learning about the story and delving into, like we write a lot of narratives about stories and we dive really deep. We think our fans really appreciated that and we were able to transcribe the aesthetics and the journey of the album into the shows we did in February as well on our tour. It’s made the whole world just feel so much more.
C: I think I really enjoyed what the album is doing as it’s bigger piece of work and releasing lots of songs in one go, people pick out what they like. If you just release a single everyone’s like “yeah, I love the single it’s really good!” but then people go like “my favourite’s this one” or “my favourite’s that one” and you get all these opinions on it. I just really enjoy how people can take a piece of work and just pick what they want out of it.
N: Agreed, with all of that!
What would be your favourite lyric or song from the album?
I: I think my favourite is… I can’t quite remember it now. ‘I like my converse messy, stitched at the seams, fabric soaked in a fever dream’.
C: I’m going to go song off an album. My favourite song is Klimt Painting which is the last track on the album. It’s a beautiful ambient piece we lots of stuff going on and we love that one.
N: I think my favourite lyrics are probably the ending of Cut Corners (On Short Walks) which is ‘The light in my eyes reignited with a vengeance. When I saw the sunrise around a campfire with my best friends’. I think that sums up what we’re here to do and what Bears in Trees do as people and as friends who want to make our mark.
You’ve got a truly love fanbase, they are just really special. What is it like for you all to know you are the reason for that?
I: I think what’s realising interesting is I see us in a lot of them. It feels like they all seem like people we would have been friends with wherever they are in their stage of life and I can see how and why they connect with the lyrics and the music in the way they do. It’s just beautiful as we’re like quite misfits, we’re like you know we didn’t really fit in at school and we just kind of embraced that within ourselves. And we can see that we’re giving a lot of people the confidence to do that as well and embrace who they are unapologetically and just embodying their own experience. That’s what I love about it, just seeing people become more confident in being a weirdo, a misfit.
N: I would agree, it’s lovely and it’s really nice to think about. Ultimately, we just want to make sure everything we create is authentic and we can inspire that community. We’re really grateful for everyone being a part of it and yeah, just like it’s a bit overwhelming to think about. We’ve just got to keep going and doing our best.
C: I think you’ve covered it!
You’ve kicked off your new era with Precipitation, can you tell us a bit more about what’s to come from the new stage of Bears in Trees?
I: I think from the album, the kind of idea of it was those moments that feel like the end of the world whether that’s good or bad and the moment after. It’s very chaotic in embracing that, I think what the new era is about, at least for me I don’t know if you disagree but it’s about reconstructing yourself and basically building yourself back up in a collage of experience and trying to forge a new, at-peace identity of yourself. That’s what it is for me.
N: I’d agree, Precipitation we kind of half wrote during the album and then we came back to it after the album. It’s a really nice bridge between the album and what we have coming up. I think like Iain said it’s about reconstructing your identity with a bit of absurdism and just I guess uncertainty thrown in there.
C: That comes in the form of at least some more new music before the end of the year.
I: At least some more…
You’ve not committed to anything too much; you’ve not said a lot about how much to expect!
C: (laughing) Exactly.
I: (laughing) Yeah, it’s going to be a double album.
C: It’s a 48-track concept album.
Now the fans are going to be ready and waiting for it!
I: It’s got three short films attached to it. It’s a big piece. Michael Bay’s involved!
Before fan’s get too excited, let’s go to a slightly different type of question… If you could ‘ask politely’ for anything at all, what would it be? Please keep it clean!
I: Of course! We’re inoffensive pop rock and roll! If I could ask politely for anything, it would be an hour conversation with Rick Rubin and Bon Iver in the same room. Please may I have your time oh great Rick Rubin and Bon Iver.
C: I was going so much less extravagant than that. In my head I was like “If I could wish for anything right now what would it be? Like an iced Frappuccino“. I mean it’s warm you know!
I: I’m thinking on a meta-level! Both are absolutely fine.
C: Okay, please can I have a caramel Frappuccino.
N: So, I watched the new Elvis film recently and I would love to just got back in time and ask the gods of like time and space to put me back like watching Elvis for an hour before he was super big. Like the early 60’s.
C: We’ve got the three extremes here. Like actually physically possible and might happen, possibly within the realms of existence and no.
N: Please space gods, please!
Now, it’s a lovely summery day today but what would you like to do All Summer Long?
I: I like the references; this is good stuff.
C: Yeah, this is cool!
I: I would like to; oh, this is hard. Someone else take this one first!
C: You just went straight in!
N: Okay, I’ll do it. I would like to live in a water park all summer long. I think that would be lovely. Not like in the water park but have a hotel attached to it as it would be a bit gross sleeping in the pool.
C: Also, a bit dangerous…
N: I just love water parks.
I: I’ve got it now! I would love to go on a trip to Cornwall to surf and rock climb and just generally vibe. With no responsibilities at all, all summer long.
C: Yeah, I’m thinking a trip. I’d like to go to Barcelona all summer long. I don’t know why this has suddenly come into my head, but now I’m going to say it. I was there for like five days before on a trip with uni and it was like the nicest place, they had like a beach and you were in the city. It was so lovely, so I’d go back there all summer long.
Which song do you wish you had written?
(looks of confusion sweep across the band’s faces)
N: Imagine if we’d written Hallelujah.
I: You mean like (singing) Hallelujah? You wish we’d written that?!
I: It’s like that film Yesterday with The Beatles.
N: (singing) It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth.
C: That’s so not what I expected you to say. I was waiting for a Fall Out Boy song. I thought you meant Hum Hallelujah, but no you meant Hallelujah. What song do I wish we’d have written? Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson. I feel like we could rock that.
N + I: Yes!
I mean, you could definitely do a cover of it. Bears in Trees style!
C: I think we could absolutely rock that.
N: I reckon we should do a cover.
I: Now you’ve said that, I think it would be a really great one. Thank you for the inspiration.
Thanks for that exclusive, we can’t wait to see it soon.
I: Right okay, so when you say that. Do you mean I wish we’d written it as us in our style or do you mean like you listen to it and think “Ah man, I wish I’d written this“.
Just in general, it can be in Bears in Trees style or it can simple be a big song you wish was yours.
I: This is a standard Iain answer and I’m sorry that this is so basic. Which one do you think it’s going to be? (Looking at Callum and Nick)
C: I think it’s going to be American Pie.
I: It is going to be American Pie. I wish I’d written American Pie, because like Jesus Christ it’s such a good song.
What has been your career highlight so far as your journey has been, well it’s been a crazy one!
C: It has been crazy.
I: I think there’s two moments which spring to mind. Our most recent tour in February, I think we played four shows by then I think it might have been Glasgow we were coming out of and it was just so immense. The reaction, the electricity in the room, it was just so wild and like we’d had like a series of none of them were duds, every show was the same. I literally looked at Nick and went ‘Oh we’re actually making it’. My mind just went back to us playing to no-one in London or playing to our friends in living rooms or car parks and it was just this moment of ‘oh wow, people actually care about this. This is actually it’. I would say London but that was when it actually clicked.
C: I instinctively thought of the London show on our headline tour. Electric Ballroom on that tour was just absolutely insane.
I: It was like one thousand capacity.
C: Just all those people in a room, screaming Push Ups and stuff like that was just absolutely ridiculous. But I think you’re right, it’s the moments when it sinks in which are usually those moments of clarity afterwards when you’re like trying to go to bed, then just suddenly awake and think “I’ve got to get up tomorrow to go to the studio to record songs to play in a band which is basically my job. Oh. That’s kind of cool”. Those are the moments.
I: I like those big, grand moments but those aren’t really the moments it sinks it. It is usually the moments after.
N: My moment is similar, but my moment is the very first headline tour we did when our final show was in London at a 600-cap venue and we were driving ourselves, our friends were helping us at merch, we were our own crew, we didn’t have a manager or booking agent. We still didn’t really have any big industry support and the show sold-out on the day and there were 600 kids screaming along every word. That was crazy.
I: The queue was like snaking around Camden.
N: Walking out onstage and like seeing it like filled to the rafters.
C: I remember singing Reverberate and it hurt. It was so loud I had to take my in-ears out and it was so loud that it like physically hurt.
I: I remember having my in-ears in and they were clipping so I took them out and was like “oh this is even louder!“. During that tour we tried to meet everyone in the queue before, but that was the only one where we couldn’t physically meet everyone. The other one I was thinking about was the American run. We were just in San-Fransisco for a few days, the first day we were exhausted and the second day we were just sitting there going “we just did America for a month” which was amazing.
Finally, and most importantly, what message do you have for your lovely fanbase?
I: Find something you love, that gives you joy and do it. Don’t stop doing it and keep doing it for as long as you can whether anyone wants to be there for it or whatever. Just find something that gives you joy and keep doing that.
N: I’d like to co-sign that message.
I: No, come up with another one!
C: I’d like to co-sign that and add something on. As long as that thing you enjoy isn’t murder. Don’t keep doing that regardless of what anyone says. If someone says stop… stop murdering people. I feel like there’s something I could say but you’ve really just said it.
That was a really lovely message for your fans
C: That was just such an eloquent way of putting it into words.
Well thank you for your time Bears in Trees, enjoy the rest of your day!
I: Just to add one more thing to that and love your friends above all else. Because friends are the ones who bring you along the way, connection in life with yourself and your friends.
N: Friends are the family you choose; says every gift store you walk in to.
C: Live, laugh, love, friends are the family you choose.
N: Okay, there we go!
No final, final words?
I: I think that’s it!
Interview By: Nicola Craig
Bears In Trees latest single Precipitation is out now and available to stream/download HERE.
Their debut album and everybody else smiled back is out now via Counter Intuitive Records, available HERE.
Bears in Trees are heading out on tour with You Me At Six, The Maine and Waterparks in February 2023, see them live at the following dates:
Wed 1st – PLYMOUTH – Pavilions
Fri 3rd – GLASGOW – Barrowland Ballroom
Mon 6th – MANCHESTER – O2 Victoria Warehouse
Thu 9th – NOTTINGHAM – Motorpoint Arena
Friday 10th – CARDIFF – Motorpoint Arena
Sat 11th – LONDON – Alexandra Palace