Hunter & The Bear: Classic rock for modern times

A press shot of Hunter & The bear

British rock quartet Hunter & The Bear are premiering the video for new song Paper Heart exclusively with TeamRock. Taken from their debut album of the same name, the track blends shades of classic rock with modern pop hooks, for a sound which has its roots in heritage rock, but has been repackaged for a contemporary audience.

Having developed a reputation for their raucous live shows, H&TB scored themselves the ultimate gig when Eric Clapton invited them to support him on the UK leg of his most recent arena tour. Soon enough, slots opening for bona fide legends Van Morrison and Simple Minds followed.

So what’s next for a band who’ve already opened for God? We chat with frontman Will Irvine to find out…

What’s the story behind the song Paper Heart?

Without wanting to give too much away, Paper Heart is a song is about vulnerability and loss. It’s about being taken for granted and feeling unstable. Those are things that we’ve all felt in our lives at some point, and it was that sense of fragility that really interested us. It felt totally natural to write about those feelings and experiences and could have easily been three times as long!

What sort of themes do you cover on your album, and what drew you to these topics?

The album is a collection of songs about people. We’ve always been drawn towards writing about the hopes, desires, shortcomings and triumphs of everyone around us. It’s hard to say what made us start down that road but it just felt right. We meet so many different people on our travels and everyone has a story to tell. A lot of the material is born from our own personal experiences, but it’s nice to step into someone else’s shoes from time to time and see things from a different angle.

You take a lot of inspiration from classic rock. How does that tie in to creating music as a modern band?

We were all brought up on a hefty diet of loud rock bands, but there’s lots of new bands that we take inspiration from too. In terms of creating music, we never sit down with an agenda of how a song has to sound. We write songs that we’d like to listen to and it’s a bonus if other people like them too. One thing I feel has been lost slightly over time is the importance of lyrics and story telling in songs. That’s one thing that we try and bring forward from the classic albums that we grew up with.

What’s your favourite story from recording the album?

We’ve been lucky to work with an amazing producer duo in Joe Kearns and Jason Elliott across the whole album. They’ve become two of our best mates throughout the process and we’ve worked each other to the bone. For example, during a week-long stint recording in Gorbals Sound, Glasgow, I asked Jason when the last time he went outside was. We worked out that he hadn’t taken a proper break (apart from sleeping) or gone outside for 5 days straight. We were all losing our marbles in there, but I think that’s when some of the magic happens. People have crazy ideas that’d normally be laughed out of the room but things like that can end up really making a track in the end. A solid shift from the boys!

How did it feel to be asked to support legends like Eric Clapton and Van Morrison?

To be honest, it was equal parts incredible and terrifying. We knew those shows were a huge step up from anything we’d done before and we had to do ourselves proud in the big arenas. The Clapton tour was a real coming of age moment for us. To have the support of a rock legend like him was every bit the confidence boost we needed to believe we could really do this. I almost passed out when we got the email saying “Eric and the team have listened to your music and would love you to support on the UK leg of his world tour”. What a ridiculous email to receive! Those gigs made us a better band, and we’ll never forget how lucky we were to do that. More gigs like that please! Maybe we’ll sneak in a cheeky collaboration next time.

What’s next for Hunter & The Bear?

When the album drops we’re heading out on a big UK Tour to celebrate the release in May/June. Tickets are flying out with some of the gigs sold out already so it looks set to be pretty special! After that we have some awesome festivals lined up out in Europe along with lots more here in the UK. You only get one debut album so we want to make the most of it. We’ll be everywhere that our tour van can get us to!

Describe your sound in three words.

Thunderous, ballsy, anthemic.

Paper Heart is released on 12th May. You can catch the band on tour at the following dates:

11 May: Electric Circus, Edinburgh, UK

12 May: The Tolbooth, Stirling, UK

13 May: ABC 2, Glasgow, UK

18 May: The Ironworks, Inverness, UK

19 May: Village Hall, Ullapool, UK

20 May: An Lanntair, Stornoway, UK

25 May: The Tunnels, Aberdeen, UK

26 May: The British Legion, Shetland, UK

14 Jun: Borderline, London, UK

15 Jun: Patterns, Brighton, UK

16 Jun: Academy 2, Oxford, UK

17 Jun: Institute 3, Birmingham, UK

18 Jun: Cluny, Newcastle, UK

20 Jun: Deaf Institute, Manchester, UK

21 Jun: Lending Rooms, Leeds, UK