When we’ve been playing Bear Trade’s second album in the shop we’ve had customers saying it reminds them of Leatherface, and though the similarities and influences are there – Greg’s gruff mackem vocals, the driving guitar parts, the sing-a-long choruses, Bear Trade are definitely a band that deserve to spoken of in their own right and on their own terms.
Silent Unspeakable could well be Bear Trade’s masterpiece, as with it’s predecessor Blood and Sand, it only takes a few listens to get the harmonies stuck into your head and once they’re there you’ll be singing along and punching the air with joy. It’s a more refined, thoughtful record which builds on both the bands punk rock heart and pop sensibilities. It’s also a more grown up record, as Greg makes plain in the brilliant Family Planning “I hate it when you say ‘someday when we get old’…because darlin’, I’m already there.” There’s pure sing-a-long bangers like Inglorious and opener Sea Legs and more thoughtful and thought provoking songs like the aforementioned Family Planning and Endeavour Would Be An Understatement, plus plenty of moments to make you smile like the brilliantly named As Long As We Have Tea (“We can conquer mountains as long as we have tea, as long as I have you and me”) and the sing-a-long of “Six One For Lloyd” at the end of Room With A View, presumably tagged onto the end of the song when the bands bassist Lloyd’s football team Bromley somehow managed to win a game 6-1. And then there’s the last song on the album, the acoustic Transgressions In The Toyshop, a total change in pace from previous Bear Trade songs and it’s a brilliantly heart breaking song which contemplates the result of the ridiculous Brexit vote (“I really think life will get harder, living so close to a border/…And the worst part? We asked for this/ all aboard the world, a ship with no sails and no anchor.”)
Silent Unspeakable is a superb punk rock record, do yourselves a favour and pick a copy up.
Pairing: Like Bear Trade, Wiper & True are pretty fuss free and possibly a little under rated. They released Citrus Bay, a 9.5% Double IPA brewed with coriander seed, bay leaves and citrus zest earlier this year to little fanfare but it’s a bloody brilliant beer, my favourite DIPA of the year so far, to be paired with my favourite album of the year so far. It’s sweet, chewy, refreshing and bitter. A surprisingly complex beer to go along side a surprisingly complex album. Cheers, Tim.
Bear Trade play an afternoon show with Iron Chic at the Montague Arms this Sunday (11th June), you should definitely go. We’re only a fifteen minute walk away so it’s a perfect opportunity to indulge in the pairing on the day! You can join the event and buy tickets here.
I sent some questions to Greg and Lloyd from Bear Trade before we opened the shop. The plan was to put it together with other interviews as part of a mini zine to celebrate waterintobeer opening, unfortunately this didn’t materialise due to not getting other interviews back and having to actually open the shop, so below is that original interview from August 2016 for your enjoyment.
Introduce yourselves, brief history of the band, etc.
Well we are punk band called Bear Trade. We’ve been around for a little over 4 years now, actually I think This December will be the 5 year anniversary of our first practice. We had all been in other bands and met playing gigs and touring, but we’ve never lived near each other and we are all a bit older now, so don’t have much time to spend playing music. The band was formed on the premise that it would be fun, sporadic and we’d only work with friends or people that shared the same values. We’ve never had aspirations other than enjoying a few beers and playing daft punk rock. I think we’ve been very fortunate that other people enjoyed what we do, but honestly if nobody gave a fuck we would still be doing exactly the same thing.
You’ve helped put on gigs at the Alphabet Brewing Company in Manchester. How did that come about? How’ve they gone? Any future gigs planned there?
I (Lloyd) knew the brewer Tom from his time at Hand Drawn Monkey in Huddersfield through Kev (who does Cats? Aye!). Kev did a couple of small acoustic gigs at their place in town and when Tom moved across to Manchester and a bigger open space our collective minds came to the conclusion that putting on bands there would be a fine idea.
The two we’ve done both sold out…I think the space and the fact it is a different and interesting environment helped. For the first we had to get a Temporary Entertainment Notice at short notice, and we also turned the brewery into as safe an environment as we could, creating areas for bands/acoustic acts, seating, eating and drinking. Also had to hire in portaloos and we did the door ourselves as well as made a beer. So pretty much as hands on DIY as you can get. Part of the TEN meant we had to leave the big shutters open for fire regs, and the gig coincided with the coldest day of winter…it was snowing when I was doing the door at one stage. But everyone embraced the uniqueness of the event and it was a great time.
Then we lined Iron Chic up. It sold out within two and a half hours which was nuts. Again we did it all ourselves but in the interim Tom had some more permanent toilets built at the brewery. Again, it was a spectacular time, one which hopefully lives in people’s memories.
It is pretty full on though, especially for Tom. The brewery is his livelihood and having a full place can be quite stressful…the toilets leaked for example and that is all extra things which he has to deal with. So right now we’re taking a breather and soon no doubt planning somehing else. Kev now works at Magic Rock in Huddersfield so expect to see events there too.
Lloyd, as part of the gigs at Alphabet Brewing Company you helped brew a beer for the occasion, how did that go? Do you homebrew yourself?
We did a beer at Hand Drawn Monkey called Shadwell IPA for a RVIVR gig two or three years ago which ended up being at Bar Santiago in Leeds. It sold out in three hours because we basically smashed loads of hops into it. The beers we’ve done for the gigs have been great fun and well received…some have gone on to sell to the open pub trade which is fun. Tom pretty much facilitates it all…Kev and I lob in some ideas and Tom tries to make that madness a reality…he has all the brewing skills, Kev and I just ‘help’ out for the day; usually drinking his other beers in the brewery and trying to put more hops in.
After the first gig and beer (Nang Tani – a banana salted caramel chocolate porter), we let people give us a steer on what the next beer would be. So the results of those feedback forms were the basis for This Means Nothing To Me which was released at the Iron Chic gig. We also had a 20l keg of a special Nang Tani which had been in a Jim Beam cask for 8 months with raisins and vanilla pods. I think that was the end of me.
Favourite beers/ breweries?
World’s toughest question! Apart from ABC (of course) I am always on the lookout for Brodies from East London. Also, from the UK, north east brewer Almasty do great beers. Wild from Somerset and Mad Hatter from Liverpool are always good for pushing the boundaries, and the sours from Chorlton in Manchester are interesting. Cloudwater’s IPAs are excellent too. If you ever see Dutch brewery Het Uiltje beers from Haarlem treat yourself.
I am fortunate in that I enjoy beers however they are dispensed (keg/gravity/hand pull/bottle/can) and pretty much every style so i’m only limited by what is available, and will happily try one of everything (or as close as I can!) when such a selection permits. I love Pivni in York, The Free Trade Inn in Newcastle and The Grove in Huddersfield particularly as they allow me to indulge accordingly…
Greg, you’re about to/ have just stepped into Dickie Hammonds (RIP) shoes, so to speak, how does it feel playing songs/ guitar parts written by one of the legends of UK punk?
Yeah, BIG shoes to fill! Well it was an honour to be asked to play. Hammond was so influential and he’s been behind some of the best music to come out of UK punk rock in the last 25+ years, not just with Leatherface/HDQ but Doctor Bison and Stokoe had some phenomenal records as well. He was also a friend, it was always quite hard seeing him in the last few years. I think it took a lot out of him making the Medictation album and it ended up being the last thing he did, so I felt a big responsibility to do the songs justice. It was a bit of an odd one flying 5000 miles to have your first band practice, but thankfully we clicked straightaway. It felt more like we had been a band for years rather than days. I did find it a bit weird being on stage and having everyone speak French in between songs, but I suppose there is only one way to fix that!
I believe you’re currently working on a new album, how’s it going? when do you hope this will be released?
Hopefully next year! Its pretty much written and we are just trying to figure out some recording dates for Autumn. It feels like we have a lot more ballads on the new record, but don’t worry the subject matter is characteristically cheery; mostly old age and death. We have a small window of opportunity to record before my wife and I are expecting our first child! We had hoped to record this time last year but our drummer, Peter was expecting his first kid. I suppose that’s the problem being in a dad rock band, empathise on the DAD and not the rock hahaha.
Favourite beers/ breweries?
Arran Dark, Founders All day IPA and anything SOUR
What’s next for Bear Trade?
Disclaimer: Beer people can sometimes take themselves a bit too seriously. You can take this as serious as you like but we imagine if you’ve spent anytime in the shop you’ll know that’s not the case at wib but we DO take good beer and good music seriously so if we review and pair anything on this blog you can be sure we think it’s bloody great.
Note: If you want to send a record for us to play in the shop/ maybe get a review, please do. We’ll play anything in the shop which isn’t racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. or shit. And if we love it, we’ll write a review and pairing.