A band of blood brothers, childhood friends, and musical prodigies, British Columbia’s Chase The Bear, mix catchy hooks, roaring electric guitars, and hard-hitting rhythms inspired by classic rock with indie, soul, R&B, and pop influences.
The outfit has been playing in the southern end of the province since 2015, starting by busking on the streets of Victoria after brothers Troy and Leo Gilmore and childhood friends Connor Brooks and Braedan Royer moved from Fort St. John, B.C. with the dream to turn music into a career. They quickly gained recognition for their catchy original music and singer Troy’s bluesy, powerhouse voice before picking up keyboardist Kevin Parker and guitarist Jordan Phillips and moving to Vancouver.
“Underwater” is a high-energy rock anthem, with infectious melodies and powerful electric guitar lines, produced by Danny Craig, the co-founder of innovative new Vancouver-based record label Rock Is Dead Records (the first-ever label to be distributed by 604 Records) and member of chart-topping, million-selling Canadian rock band Default. “Underwater” is off Chase The Bear’s forthcoming album Honey.
Originally hailing from the wild wilderness of Fort St. John BC, I can see how the allusion to ‘Chase The Bear’ may have come to be. What kind of character traits to that of a bear, would you lend to the music the band creates (edgy, adventurous, assertive, roaring, etc.)? What is the true origin of the band’s name?
Braedan Royer (BR): “I had been unsuccessfully trying to name a band ‘Hug The Bear’ for about three years, and as we were getting closer to playing our first gig, the pressure of needing a name for the show poster increased. I pitched ‘Hug The Bear’ for the millionth time. Troy and Leo’s mom Nancy was the millionth person to turn me down, but she suggested ‘Chase The Bear’ as an alternative. It was a winner!”
“I guess our music is a bit like a bear, I’ve never thought of that before. Loud, a little heavy, a little rootsy. On a personal level, I relate to bears because I’m also incredibly sleepy.”
As a rock & roll band inspired by classic rock with influences of indie, soul, R&B and pop, how have you found each genre complements one another? What are some of the artists/bands that have influenced Chase The Bear’s sound most?
BR: “Narrowing down our influences isn’t our strong point. With six band members, the list ends up being many paragraphs. It’s filled with most of the usual suspects, all tied together by tight, catchy songwriting. Genre blending usually happens as a happy accident; the result of restless ears reaching for that perfect part, wherever it may come from. We love hooks as much as we love interesting instrumentation, and strive to create music that balances both.”
The outfit has been playing in the southern end of British Columbia since 2015, having started by busking on the city streets of Victoria. What knowledge have these experiences provided you all with that you have used to enhance your artistry, performance, vision, etc., over the years?
BR: “Busking is the origin of everything for this band. Performing for thousands of indifferent strangers a day is a humbling and thrilling experience. It shifts from a confidence boost to ego-shattering on a moment-to-moment basis. It teaches you the importance of performance. You can’t just stand still and play as you do in practice – you’re an entertainer! I stopped a long time ago, but you can still find Troy strumming away in downtown Vancouver every day.”
Having released your debut self-titled EP in 2018, now 4 years later, what do you make of where the band is now, emotionally and creatively? In what way(s) has the pandemic influenced the band (positively and/or negatively)?
BR: “The pandemic was the ultimate test of our commitment; it wasn’t always easy. All of us wanted to quit at some point or another. Many of our peers threw in the towel. I feel like we really picked apart what was missing in our daily communication and came out the other side stronger. Being in this band is more fun right now than it ever has been, and we’re so happy to be back on stage.”
You’ve just released your new single, “Underwater.” What does this mean to a group who have spent a considerable amount of time away from releasing music?
BR: “It’s a GIANT relief! We actually finished the album in January 2020, and the world shut down not long after. So we’ve been itching to get this stuff out there for ages. Honestly, if the world hadn’t shut down, we might have released it without this new distribution deal with Rock Is Dead / 604 Records, which is a selfishly shining silver lining for us amidst all the overwhelming struggle we’ve collectively been through.”
Tell us the story behind the song, and why the band felt this be the release that welcomes your return to rock and roll.
BR: “Troy had written a song after watching a documentary about a serial killer. He had a different verse, but the chorus was the same. I interpreted his chorus as being about climate change, as this was summer and half the province was on fire. He came up with the new melody and we collaborated on the lyrics and ended up with a song about feeling powerless and hopeless. I think it’s a good summation of what we all have felt these last couple of years.”
The song was produced by Danny Craig; co-founder of Vancouver-based record label Rock Is Dead Records, and member of chart-topping, million-selling Canadian rock band Default. What’s it been like working alongside a fixture in the Canadian music industry such as Danny, all while being introduced to this new innovative label?
BR: “Danny is a straight shooter. He’s not afraid to break your heart and tell you what he really thinks. He was also a fan first, after judging us in the ‘2017 Best In Vancouver’ competition. He’s a lifelong rock and roll fan and came in wanting to refine our sound, not change it or dilute it to make a buck. He captured our live energy perfectly and we can’t wait to get back in the studio and crank out the next one.”
The release of this single is in anticipation of the band’s forthcoming album, ‘Honey.‘ What can you tell us about this collection of songs?
BR: “These songs are a snapshot of our last five years. A few of them are holdovers from our very first days as a band, busking relics. It’s a reflection of who we’ve been, and cleans the slate, letting us turn our attention to figuring out who we are now.”
“Also, there’s a reggae song, and reggae SLAPS (like me, hey, I’m the bassist).”
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