City Spotlight: Manchester's Ten Bears

Simon English | Friday, 11 September 2009

City Spotlight: Manchester's Ten Bears

Sam and Luke from Manchester-based band Ten Bears joined us in our gorgeous apartment recently to spill the beans on their recent antics.

Luke, who plays guitar, and Sam, the band's vocalist, seemed comfortable and relaxed as they told us how life has changed for the band, getting their tracks on national radio, as well as their views on certain well-known Radio 1 DJs.

The band have had a busy summer, playing hard in preparation for the release of their new single, as well as a hugely successful tour to Georgia, where they liken their appeal to that of U2 here in the UK: "Over here, we're dole scum, and in Georgia we are U2, so it's good to go there.  The people there just really love it ... we're just basically superstars in Georgia," jokes Sam.    
And there are more tours in the pipeline for the rest of the year - Sam's looking forward to Scotland: "Scottish punters at gigs, I have to say are generally more enthusiastic than the English ones." 

Influences include one of Manchester's most famous groups, Oasis. Luke says, "If it wasn't for Noel Gallagher, I'm not sure I would have picked up a guitar. He was certainly an inspiration ... when you're 16." Sam added, "Yeah, when you think about our generation when Oasis were big ... it was really inspirational. Every kid had a guitar."

But surprisingly, the pair told us how they thought the time had come for the demise of Oasis and that they weren't sad at the recent news of the band's split. Sam joked, "I was quite happy when I heard Oasis had split up the other day.  I thought it was about time."

It wasn't hard sensing the band were finding it pretty tough in Manchester, telling us they find it harder getting recognition there than born-and-bred bands from the area: "A band like the Courteeners get celebrated by the public straight away because they're Mancunians and quite obviously they've got that sound and we haven't got that. We're not from here."

But Sam insisted they are just happy to be in one of the UK's hottest cities for new music: "We get to travel round the country a lot, doing what we do, but Manchester's one of the only places in the country where you can walk around looking like what I wanna look like and acting how I like and people don't bat an eyelid." 

After chatting, Luke and Sam seemed pretty happy posing for a few snaps in our swanky pad. They particularly enjoyed hugging our giant stone pillar and jumping into bed together. We have to say, though, climbing into bed with clothes and shoes on isn't great bedroom etiquette, but that flambouyancy's testament to to how well the five get on when they're not on stage or in the studio.

Sadly, the incessant rain meant we couldn't get any outside shots on our balcony. But the guys also assured us that it doesn't always rain in Manchester; the pair were keen to assure us there had been some good weather in the city at some point during the summer.  

The band's single, 'Braces', is out in November on East City Records - it's something they're hugely excited about, though Luke and Sam clearly don't want to give too much away. "Yeah it's a song about growing up."

The video is set to be an interesting one, too. The boys wouldn't tell us much about what it involves on the record, though: "I don't know anything about that. It's very interesting." One thing that did come across was that they clearly enjoyed making the video as much as the music itself.

Things are going well for the band, and they genuinely deserve it. The guys talk about their recent plays on BBC 6 Music as well as Radio 1 and 2. "We got hold of Steve Lamacq's address and sent him a CD off the cuff – not expecting anything from it at all, and next thing you know, he's playing one of the tracks," Luke boasts.  

Check out our gallery and full audio interview for more on Ten Bears, including a complex maths lesson from the band, their views on veteran broadcaster Steve Lamacq, as well as what the band get upto in the back of their new van.

Staying Cool  Nando's

A huge thanks to Staying Cool for providing us with the gorgeous apartment to host our Manchester leg, and Nando's in the Arndale for feeding our hungry Bears.