Belgian crossover tech-hardcore crew BEAR put on one of the most energetic shows at Tech-Fest earlier this year and afterwards they bared all to ZT.
Formed back in 2010 BEAR released two EPs, Abstractions and Abstractions 2.0 in that same year, before recording their debut LP Doradus a year later. But it wasn’t really until 2013 that they started popping up on more radars in the tech-metal scene after they signed a deal with the UK’s Basick Records and unleashed their second full-length Noumenon later that year. Having only played in the UK once during their first four years didn’t help either, but with three tours completed on this small island already this year as well as an appearance at Tech-Fest, their name is spreading.
Mashing together the aggression and sharpness of hardcore with the more unpredictable elements of tech, they’ve managed to create a fairly unique sound which is impressive in these days of over-saturation in music. With the sweat dried from their Tech-Fest performance, ZT sat down with the whole band to find out what fuels their fire.
ZT: How was it out there? Leander Tsjakalov (guitars): Yeah it was fun. We were opening the main stage and I wasn’t expecting too many people but the venue was half full already at 12.30, so that was really cool for so many people to come out and watch us.
Serch Carriere (drums): There were way more people than we expected.
You put on a pretty energetic performance for such an early start.
Leander: Haha, that’s because we barely had any sleep, so technically we are still awake from last night.
How was your recent tour?
Leander: Yeah with Black Dogs. They’re an awesome band, check them out everybody! It was really fun, the guys from Black Dogs are really cool guys to hang out with. We’ve had a good response from the people who’ve come out, even on a Monday evening.
You’ve done a few UK tours recently.
Serch: Three now. The first one was about four years ago when we played with While She Sleeps.
Maarten Albrechts (vocals): That was their first headlining tour back then.
Serch: And that was the first time we came to the UK and the second one was February this year together with The Colour Line, awesome dudes, awesome band. And this is the third one and next month is going to be the fourth one, in August we’re going to come back with Carcer City.
Do you play much in Belgium?
Serch: Yeah we travel round Belgium and play a bit in Holland and Germany, the countries around us but mainly Belgium.
Leander: Belgium is small so it’s cool for us to finally be able to get out of there to neighbouring countries.
Are there many other Belgian bands similar to you that you play with?
Leander: Yeah there are a few, like Now Voyager (also at Tech-Fest). There are a couple of others but not that many crazy bands in Belgium, there are more stoner and thrash metal bands. We’re kind of like the ugly ducklings in the scene haha.
Is that why you come to the UK quite a bit?
Serch: There are many more ugly ducklings here haha.
Maarten: Actually we go to wherever they ask us to go!
Serch: Basically our record label is Basick Records so it’s UK based so it’s easier for us to arrange something over here.
Leander: And also when we play in somewhere like Germany or Holland we get a better response mainly because they’re more open to a crazier type of music and we’re not from their country which makes us a bit more special. In Belgium when you go to see a band from Belgium it’s like ‘ah they’re from here so I can see them any day.’
Dries Verhaert (bass): I think the main problem in Belgium is cultural as there’s a division between the northern part and the southern part so our main audience is the Flemish part because we are from there, and that’s like six million people. So we get around pretty fast. That’s six million people in total and then we play metal or hardcore or whatever so we’re not even reaching all those six million people. If you go to Germany or the UK the possible audience is much bigger so for a band like us it’s much more interesting to go to countries like Germany or the UK because the scenes there are bigger.
How pleased were you with the reception your album Noumenon received?
Maarten: Pretty pleased.
Leander: Great reception, yeah. There were some cool reviews and kids emailing us or sending us messages on Facebook like ‘yeah I really love this album’.
Maarten: They even do covers of our songs!
Leander: Yeah people have done covers. I never thought that people would be doing covers of songs we write and they post it on our wall like ‘check it out I figured how to play ‘Mirrors’ or ‘Rain’. It’s really cool to see people giving a good response.
Are the covers any good?
Leander: Yeah. It’s quite chaotic music so I’m always astounded by how people managed to figure out what we’re actually playing.
Maarten: There are no tabs available online or anything, they do it all by ear.
Dries: Because of the last album we got these three tours right now over six months so it’s really cool that we’re gaining new opportunities.
What got you into playing tech/hardcore/metal? Serch: We just got together and that’s how it came out haha.
Leander: We’ve known each other for a long time as we were all in different bands and we kind of played a lot of venues together when we were younger. We were just like ‘why don’t we start a band?’
Maarten: We said we’d not put much money or energy into it and see what happens…
Leander:…and it came to this. Now BEAR is our main band.
What plans do you have for the future? Leander: World domination.
Serch: Right now we’re working on new songs for the next album. We don’t have anything planned for the studio yet but I think probably in the next year sometime.
Dries: Around the end of this year or the beginning of next year we want to start recording and have everything finished by Spring 2015. At least that’s our goal right now so we’ll see what happens.
Serch: Other than that we’re just planning on playing as many shows or tours as possible. There are some things in the future that are still under discussion like for tours, so depending on that we’ll see how it goes.
Do you think you’ll tour outside of Europe?
Serch: I would love to and we hope to.
Dries: I don’t think any time soon.
Serch: You never know, we try to play as much as possible and as many locations as possible.
Leander: We are outside of Europe now aren’t we? Haha.
Dries: As we said before, we started this band with no big goals, this should be fun and let’s not take this too seriously, we’ll jam together and see what happens and then at a certain point there was our first EP and then we started playing shows and then we got on tour and then there was a second album.
Serch: We kind of go with the flow depending on how the audience reacts.
Maarten: Of course we hope for more tours and bigger audiences and stuff but that’s not the goal. The main part is having fun.