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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Brown Bear and the Bandits

2011 was the year that seen Ayrshire band Brown Bear and the Bandits cement a reputation for being the act that local music fans had to see.
From pubs to clubs they raised the roof and as the year ended they found themselves in the enviable position of being the name on everyone's lips as the act that was going to break through.
So it was no surprise to see them mentioned by BBC Radio Scotland as one of thirty five bands to watch out for in 2012.
All this without even having a debut album out to.
So it is with great pleasure that they are here answering a few questions for the blog.

Mainy - So tell us a little about the band?
How did you guys meet, what's the origins of the name?

Matt - Me and Stuart have known each other since childhood.
It wasn't until we met Kay at the same time that we become closer. That was in our old band One Man Town.
After that we stuck together and then became Brown Bear & The Bandits.
As for the name, well I had been kicking it around for years and thinking of doing a blues project under that name and then when we were thinking of something suitable I suggested it,.
We felt it suited us, fun, upbeat and we all felt we could see it on a headline poster!
Kay - I’ve known the guys for a few years now.
We all used to play in a band called One Man Town. Then when that was over we didn’t want to stop playing together so thought, why not start something new?
The reception we’ve had since deciding to do this has been so overwhelming.
I’s hard to believe it has only been seven months!
Stuart - Myself and Matt met when we were about six when I won an award at a club and he pushed me off a stage.
We've been close ever since.
I met Kay about 5 years ago in One Man Town that the others mentioned.

Truth or Dare by brownbearandthebandits

Mainy - With most bands there's a point when it moves from mates messing about to that moment when everything clicks and they realize that they are making music of your own rather than emulating a sound.
Do you guys all share a moment like that, or did you all reach it at different times?

Matt - For me it was back at the beginning when we started to notice the same people come back to gigs and posting on facebook and realised we were actually gaining fans and it wasn't just friends coming to see us play.
That's when we realised that it was going well and people were liking what we were doing. Our first few times at Su Casa also made us aware that our music was coming into its own
Kay - King Tuts for me. That gig was just amazing. I thought I got it before then, but once it was all over and we had a chance to take it all in, wow. We’re just so lucky to have all the support we do. We couldn’t do it without you all!
Stuart - I think we got the mates messing about out of our systems in previous bands. We've all been playing in Glasgow and locally for years at this point starting in our early teens and after a gig I think it was at Bloc during the summer we all sort of agreed that we had something we were all really happy with and decided this is what we wanted to do with our lives.

Mainy - There's also that first time when you can see that what you are doing is resonating with an audience.
When was the first time you felt that connection?

Matt - Definitely King Tuts.
To have fans from all over in one place for the same reason and knowing the words to our songs was an amazing feeling.
Getting a wee chant after the set didn't go a miss either!
Kay - For me, it would have to be when we went back and played Su Casa in Ayr last November. The night was in full swing by the time we came on, and it felt like the roof could cave in at any moment it was so busy. Some people knew every single word to the songs. It was fantastic!
Stuart - I would say the first time we played Su Casa was it for me. I was used to crap reactions in my old bands and it becomes the status quo after a few years of hearing no cheers, but at Su Casa the reaction was mind blowing and they really took to us which was really touching.
The Tall Ships in Greenock is another milestone that comes to mind.

Mainy - Everyone has different perceptions of what you sound like, but how would you describe it yourselves?

Matt - So far people have struggled to pigeon hole us and agree what our genre is…. I'd like for it to stay that way
Kay - We can’t really be pigeonholed. Our music reflects so many different genres.
Pop/celtic/rock/country… We are not folk!
Stuart - I find it hard to describe us. Lots of people say folk, celtic etc. Our influences are so wide that many genres shine through. There are definitely aspects of those genres but the three of us are so diverse in our listening tastes that I feel rock, country and many others come through, especially as we write together more and more each of our influences shine through. A song written solely by Matt can sound very different from a collaborative effort.

Mainy - So who was it that influenced you all, and that doesn't have to be specifically other musicians?

Matt - My biggest influences are Ray Charles & Stevie Wonder, but mostly Ray Charles!
I think he was a true genius and truly innovative for his time! "I've got a woman" for me is one of the greatest songs that has ever been released!
Kay - My biggest influence has probably been my big sister. She is also a drummer and has been all over the world with her band, The Hedrons. Hopefully one day that will be us!
Stuart - Personally the people who influence me the most are Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan, Danny Elfman, Queen, Slash and Mike Patton.
Nobody who sounds remotely like what we do.
Film music and grand sounding songs are what inspire me.

War of Loves by brownbearandthebandits

Mainy - There's been much talk about an 'Ayrshire scene'. Do you think there are pros and cons to being attached to a scene, and what would they be?

Kay - why limit yourself to a scene? The world is your oyster, so get your bib on and tuck in!
Matt - I think there are pro's and cons to scenes. Ayrshire has made us very welcome and we have made some great friends, notably Jamie McGeechan, but I wouldn't count us as part of a scene were just making music because that's what we love to do and we will play wherever people will have us.
We live in the furthest away part of Ayrshire and Kay in Inverclyde and as she said the worlds your oyster. Don't limit yourself!
Stuart - There definitely is a scene and as we played more in Ayrshire we began to ingratiate into it to a certain point but long term I think being part of a scene can pigeon hole you and restrict your creative output.
A scene will only like a certain type of music by definition and that can limit what you can play but scenes also offer an artist support system where people help each other out which is really important.

Mainy - You're currently recording. How is that going and what are your expectations of the new material?

Matt - Its great fun and I am really enjoying being back in a studio. As for the new material it is greatly refreshing for us and more and more we feel we are defining our own sound! Can't wait for you all to hear it!
Kay -: It’s going great so far. Feels good to be back recording and we can’t wait to get it out there!
Stuart -: Were doing some familiar favourites like Truth or Dare for example, which is getting re-recorded.
We are recording one new song which is tentatively titled 'The Chase' which I personally believe is the best thing we've ever done. On a musical level it's a bit of a step up I'd say as is much of the new material, not to say that the older stuff is simple but I'd say the new stuff has more of a band identity to it.
I can hear where everybody has contributed and it's an exciting development.


  1. Does anyone read blogs like this? What sort of promotion do you give bands?
    It looks crap to me.

  2. People do.
    In fact people like you obviously do as here you are commenting on it.
    Or are you commenting on something you haven't read.
    It wouldn't surprise me. People complain about films they haven't seen, games they haven't played and pretty much anything else you can think about.
    Sadly ignorance doesn't exclude people from having an opinion.
    The promotion I give bands is rather good I think.
    There's a global audience that I am keying into, as are all my blogging peers.
    No worries about thinking it looks crap mate.
    That's a subjective view and you are entitled to it.

  3. Got to say that Mainy does a great job in giving exposure to bands all over Ayrshire and like said above, you are reading it so obviously people do. Think before you type.

  4. Martin McLaughlan28 January 2012 at 22:48

    I had issues with mainy in the past, in the fact I reacted very badly to something he wrote about me. Infact, since then I've actually found myself to be pushing myself alot harded. Anyway after reading his blogs since, I've found them to be both insightful and honest. For you to say it "looks like crap" it's obvious you haven't read it.