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Songs Of Experience: Bear Trade Sound Just As They Intended On 'Blood And Sand'

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 Written by Huw Baines

The fire of youth is all well and good, but sometimes a little perspective is helpful. Bear Trade put out their debut, ‘Blood and Sand’, last week and it’s pretty clear that it’s a record by a band who understand what they’re doing.

Having served in Southport, Blocko, Former Cell Mates, the Mingers and assorted other UK punk bands, Bear Trade’s four members are well aware of the realities of life in a van, and fully versed in the intricacies of the country’s various scenes, labels and venues.

They have friends in punk circles at home and abroad, something that’s allowed them to take a slow burn approach to the record and touring, one that prioritised the basic thrill of playing music you like with people you love.

“It’s always been very organic, we’ve known each other from different bands, different times and different parts of the country,” Lloyd Chambers, the band’s bassist said. “And, by chance, we were all roughly in the same sort of area. We were never going to go off and tour all the time, we’ve got families and jobs and commitments, but we still enjoy doing these things, you know?

“It’s great to be able to do it with people you’ve known for years, that you’re best friends with. It’s been a lot of fun doing it and we’ve not really tried to rush it. The songs are the songs and they’ll keep for another day. We’re not careerists in any way shape or form, we just wanted to make something that’s representative of who we are and what we do.”

‘Blood and Sand’ is just that, an album recorded on Nile Street in Sunderland that feeds on Leatherface as much as ‘90s skate punk and chronicles life in the north east, from post-industrial malaise to the day-to-day minutiae, via a few Likely Lads snippets.

It’s been taken on as a joint release by Dead Broke Rekerds, the Long Island-based label run by Iron Chic’s Mike Bruno, Everything Sucks in the UK and Waterslide in Japan, making it a transatlantic investment based on small scale values.

“It’s been amazing how kind people have been, how helpful people have been, with different labels who’ve helped put it out,” Chambers said. “Maybe having the experience that we have, having been around the block a little, I guess it’s helped us.

“People are confident that we know what we’re about and that there are no pretence. I’d like to think we’re easy to get on with. I guess part of that comes out in the songs. We’re just regular guys who like doing regular things. We write songs about the times that we share.”

Bear Trade’s members are now also part of a UK punk landscape that’s in increasingly good shape. Not only are bands like Caves, Bangers, the Cut Ups, Apologies, I Have None, the Arteries and Muncie Girls putting out great records, their shows are drawing crowds.

“The UK has always had great bands, it’s just been how many people have picked up on them, or not picked up on them,” Chambers said. “People are recognising now that we have great homegrown talent. Muncie Girls, for example, are only like 21, that’s no age at all.

“You start to get these little hotbeds, where people want to put on things. You’ve got the mix and match of the old spirit of DIY while embracing the completely new spirit of the internet and mediums available to people. It’s that balance that we’re seeing more of now.”

Having recently wrapped up a run of dates with Iron Chic, Bear Trade will again head to the US later this year for the latest edition of Fest, which features a sizable UK contingent on a bill that can be described as comprehensive, from Descendents on down.

“It’s another level of exposure, another tick box to a degree,” Chambers said. “The fact that you’re playing there gives a, perhaps perceived, level of standing. Fest is great. It’s an interesting time and you could be up against Descendents or whatever, you just don’t know how it’s going to fall.

“As a one-off gig, it’s a long way to go but you do get to see loads of friends. It’s almost a celebration, it’s what you make it. It’s weird because you can go and see all your friends that you see from touring around the country. We all bump into each other at Fest, it’s like a little bit of Britain in Florida.”

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