Ahead of their headline show in Whelans this October, Mark from Northern Irish rock act Little Bear talks about Other Voices, influences and the release of the band’s latest double-sided single.
It has been a hard-working year for Little Bear with an appearance on the renowned TV series Other Voices, recording singles and taking to the stage at festivals across Ireland and the UK. But it has also been a tale of a fast-rising band who came together almost 18 months ago.
Before they were Little Bear, the band were about to play a festival, without a name, and knowing that they needed something. So after a number of suggestions which included a conversation about star signs, the name Little Bear came to light when one of the band’s kids walked in wearing a t-shirt with the name Little Bear on it.
While attending music college together, cousins Mark O’Doherty and Ryan Griffiths met singer and bassist Steven McCool. A few demos later, the trio met Conor Mason who was mixing their work. Being a Multi-instrumentalist, Conor seemed the right fit for the band and joined the line up in mid-2012
Little Bear have been together for a year and half now, growing from strength to strength. After some practicing together, the band realised that they got on well, as drummer Mark O’Doherty explains “We’re lucky that we get on, because we’re on the same level when it comes to ideas. It also helps that there is no ego in the band either.”
When it comes to influences, the four-piece all have their own specific style that they seek inspiration from. Their influences would include the likes of Jeff Buckley and homegrown singer-songwriters like Gemma Hayes and Fionn Regan. The band actually met Fionn at his gig in the Unitarian Church last November. “It was great meeting Fionn, especially being a huge fan” says Mark.
On the topic of Other Voices, Little Bear’s appearance was something special for the band, seeing as the show made the trip to their hometown on one of it’s tour dates. “The session was played in St Augustine’s Church in Derry, which we played before” says Mark. “It was a bit different getting used to the cameras, but when your used to the venue, it is easier”
Since Derry-Londonderry is the Capital of Culture this year, events like Other Voices have flocked to the city to celebrate the occasion. It has also been a significant boost for the musicians in the city “Music has always been strong here, all the musicians get along and help each other out, so it helps when we get billed on line-ups with the other acts here.”
Having just announced a headline show in Whelans for October 3rd, Mark talks about touring and how Little Bear fair on the road “We usually do rock, paper, scissors when deciding who drives” laughs Mark, “I don’t think Conor has had a go yet, but we’re used to traveling to Dublin after playing Hard Working Class Heroes last year.”
Little Bear have also just released their first single through the Small Town America label digitally, which Mark says really helped the band. After releasing some of their previous work by themselves, Little Bear came to a crossroads about where they wanted to go. “We were stuck in limbo” Mark mentions. The band came across the label, who they later approached about releasing their single ’Night Dries Like Ink / Killer’.
The single is soon to be released through Smalltown America records physically, which has a limited pre-order of 300 copies available from Little Bear’s Facebook Page. Speaking ahead of the release, Mark says “We’re picking up our first copies this week, so we’re excited to have our own vinyl. But I guess I should get a record player first!”
The future looks bright for the band, who plan to continue what they’re already doing by working on some more songs and tour dates. It won’t be too long before the band are making their way across the water and creating waves in the scene over there.
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