For a band that calls themselves Chase The Bear, there may be no more appropriate album title than Honey, the name given to this sextet’s debut full-length record. Released this past Friday, January 20th, via Rock Is Dead Records, the album is an excellent opening statement for the Vancouver-based act, as they define themselves through twelve tracks of powered-up guitar riffs, scrumptious melodies, and supercharged hard rock anthems. They have received the most exposure thus far from the music video for their first single, “Underwater,” filmed at Vancouver’s Hollywood Theatre, a celebrated local venue open since 1935. This is where Chase The Bear played their very first local show after the pandemic lockdown was lifted, so it’s a venue that holds a special place in their collective heart.
Partially as a result of the aforementioned pandemic lockdown, Honey has been in the works and on hold longer than the band would have liked. They began writing it all the way back in 2019, so they are absolutely thrilled that it is finally out for all to experience and enjoy. The album was produced alongside Danny Craig, drummer for the popular Canadian rockers Default and co-founder of Rock Is Dead Records.
With Chase The Bear now ready to take things to the next level as both a recording and a touring act, we caught up with the band to talk Honey, the local music scene in Vancouver, gear, pre-show rituals, and more.
What is the story behind the name Chase The Bear?
“When the band first started, it was actually just our singer Troy Gilmore and bassist Brady Royer, and they called themselves Lookin’ California as a reference to the band Soundgarden (and their song ‘Outshined’). Didn’t take long until we realized nobody could remember the name and people were asking for it multiple times, so we took it back to the drawing board and, after throwing around lots of names such as Cry Wolf and Hug the Bear, Troy’s mom eventually walked in the room and said ‘What about Chase the Bear?’ And we loved it. Sometimes moms just know best!”
Who are your biggest influences?
“This is always an interesting question for us because, for every member, it’s difficult and constantly changing. It generally goes everywhere from classic rock, such as The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, to more modern rock, such as Cage the Elephant and Rival Sons, then when you go around the corner, you’ll see lots of old blues and soul influences, such as Aretha Franklin and Otis Rush. Even some bits and pieces of hip-hop as well.”
Tell us about your new album, Honey. What was your experience making it? What went on behind the scenes? Any notable moments that stand out?
“The experience of making Honey was like nothing we’ve done before; the structure in which we recorded it was very well planned and executed. We started at studio space Hipposonic Studios to record drums but actually recorded everyone live off the floor to make sure the vibe was right. After a couple of days of that, we re-recorded every other track one-on-one with Danny Craig in his home studio. It really gave us the time to dial everything in exactly the way we’d like it, as there was always time for another take.
“My most notable memory would be once it was all done, he invited us out to his studio in Chilliwack for a listening party. Since everything was one-on-one, nobody knew what it was going to sound like all together, so we were both very nervous and excited. We ended up being very impressed with both Danny and ourselves with the final product.”
What’s the best show you’ve ever played?
“So far I’d say the best show we’ve played was a short 20-minute set opening for Canadian rockers The Trews at the historic Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. We had actually joked around that that would happen with that exact band at the exact venue many years earlier, so that ended up being a dream come true.”
What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened at one of your shows or on tour?
“One of my personal favourites is we were touring through Red Deer, Alberta, at a very cool venue called The Vat and in the back, there was a giant tire big enough for someone to climb into. Didn’t take much time for us and our sound tech to all take turns rolling each other around in the parking lot.”
What is the music scene like in Vancouver?
“The music scene in Vancouver is very diverse; at first, it may not seem like it, but if you do just a little digging, you’ll find music of all kinds from all different kinds of places. In our rock scene, it’s also a very tight-knit community. Everyone knows each other and knows the next new band that pops up to bring onto shows for support.”
Do you receive a lot of support from the local scene and fans in general?
“Absolutely, we have a large handful of people in our local fanbase who we see and just about every one of our shows, people who wear our merch around town, and people who generate lots of excitement. They’ve grown to be friends of ours, and we couldn’t appreciate them more.”
Do you have any rituals before you hit the stage? If so, what are they?
“Yes, it usually will consist of vocal warmups and going over our toughest harmonies to make sure we’re nailing them when we hit the stage. We also played one show years ago at a party for students at the University of Victoria, and the organizer came up to say their rugby team’s chant is ‘You can’t stop the bear!’ And got us to chant it with him. Ever since then, we’ve changed that before every show.”
Do you use the same gear when recording as you do when playing live?
“The answer is yes, in some ways and no in others. When we recorded, it was using mostly our own gear with the occasional amp or guitar, we’d borrow from another band just to try out. But over time, with our own gear, we’ve been doing upgrades to improve our sound in general; I wouldn’t be surprised if next time it’s entirely our own gear in the studio.”
How did you link up with Rock Is Dead Records for this release, and what about them was attractive enough to make you sign?
“We originally met Danny Craig, our producer, years ago playing in a battle of the bands called the ‘Best in Vancouver’ competition. Danny knew right away we were the winner of the competition, and before the finals, he came to sit in on one of our practices mostly to hang out and get to know us a bit.
“A couple years later, he approached us saying he wanted to record with us and brought us out to do some demos. It was then that he broke to news he wanted to start his own label and wanted us to be one of the bands that helped launch it. He gave us a deal that seemed very fair, and we decided to go for it because Danny had become not only our producer but a good friend.”
What are some of the lesser-known fun facts about the group that people might be surprised to hear?
“We’ll give a little something from everyone. Kevin Parker (keyboards) owns and runs a video production company currently called Project AM, where him and others make lots of commercials, music videos, and short films.
Troy Gilmore (vocals) has spent most of his adult life successfully supporting himself busking on the streets of Victoria and Vancouver; he basically eats, breathes, and sleeps music.
Connor Brooks (drums), while not only being a talented drummer and songwriter himself, it’s actually somewhat genetic; Connor’s dad Craig Brooks also had a career in music back in the ’80s playing drums for the band Simon Kaos.
Leo Gilmore (guitar) knows a lot about cars; the amount of time he’s saved us by fixing an issue with our van or even knowing which van we should buy is uncountable.
Brady Royer (bass) and Jordan Phillips (guitar), these two go hand in hand as they aren’t just in a band together, but they work together as a team in the film and television industry (on the side, of course).”