The QT

Friday 14 June 2024
14/06/2024

Introducing… Bear Park

The QT Introduces is all about putting a spotlight on new talent in the creative industries… and we’re starting with a three-piece North East band who are poised to have a very big year.
BEAR PARK! Credit Nathaniel Ratcliffe-Wright

Originally called The Baltics, Shay Bagnall, Guy Robson and Adam Marshall got together as teenagers in 2019 – changing their name to Bear Park a couple of years back.

A debut EP in 2021 and a steady stream of live dates around the North East caught the attention of The Libertines’ drummer, Gary Powell.

The band signed a record contract with his label, 25 Hour Convenience Store last year and have recorded their debut album between studios in Newcastle and Margate with Powell taking care of producing duties.

Betty by Bear Park, directed by Maggie Barksby

While the album isn’t scheduled for release until early summer, fans were given a pre-Christmas trailer in the form of catchy track, Betty.

Launched at a free gig at the Head of Steam in Newcastle, the band also put out an accompanying video, filmed on location at Seaham and Houghton-le-Spring – and directed by Sunderland University media student, Maggie Barksby.

With their debut album in the offing and an already busy schedule of live dates which is getting busier by the week (more details below), we thought it would be a good time to catch up with Bear Park’s lead singer Shay and guitarist, Guy, before they’re too busy to talk to us.

Bear Park’s Guy Robson on stage at the Stockton Globe. Credit Nathaniel Ratcliffe-Wright

How’s 2024 shaping up for you?

Shay: Our first gig of the year was down in Bristol – it was our first gig down there and we got a great reception.

We supported The Libertines in Stockton which was unbelievable, and we’ve gone on to support (fellow North Easterner) Andrew Cushin in Barnsley. 

Gig wise, we’ve got so much in the calendar including two more dates in Leeds and Glasgow with The Libertines and four more dates with Andrew Cushin. We’re also supporting Junodream in Newcastle, which is hugely exciting. 

Aside from that we’ve got quite a lot of festival slots including one at Hardwick Live in August. The biggest thing is that we’re releasing our debut album which we’re very proud of. There’s more singles to come before it too and we’ll be playing a massive headline show in Newcastle to celebrate the release of the album. 

How did the support slot with The Libertines come about?

Guy: Gary previously mentioned having us support, but we never thought we’d be able to step up to such a high bar in time. And then one day we were all at work and got an email offering us three dates on their tour. It might be the proudest moment of our career so far. 

How was the first support date in Stockton?

Shay: It was amazing, the rest of The Libertines are great guys and we chatted to them for a good while. The crowd was brilliant and we played really well, which might be why we sold a good number of t-shirts after our set in the foyer! 

We had people complimenting our set left right and centre, so we knew we’d played very well. 

Bear Park with The Libertines back stage at Stockton Globe

Did they have any advice for you?

Guy: Not really, Pete was trying a Geordie accent and singing Blaydon Races whilst we got a quick snap! But he did recommend a few North East bands for us to check out when we’re home! 

Is there any update on the album release?

Shay: We’re looking at Friday. June 14 for the release. We’re good at telling people there’s an album coming but not delving into it all that much; the mystery of it all is fun!

If we catch up with you this time next year, what would you like to be able to tell us?

Guy: We’re hoping we get more gigs, a few festivals, and that the album release has gone class. It’s an amazing album made with amazing people and we honestly can’t wait to show people what we’ve been doing for such a long time now.  

What and who do you think have been important to Bear Park getting to where you are today?

Shay: I think the main person is Lee (Woolhead) our manager. The amount of gigs he’s secured for us has been amazing. He invests a lot of his time with us, even though his schedule is rammed. 

He was pivotal in us getting our record deal with 25 Hour Convenience Store and his uncle, Paul has been a joy to be around when we’ve been all over the shop in the van. He’s driven for hours!

And it goes without saying our parents are all very supportive of our endeavours too. They help with everything. 

What have been your favourite North East a) studios to record in; and b) venues to play in so far?

Guy: The only North East studio we’ve actually used is Blast, we’re loyal to it because of how loyal it is to us! It’s got a class sound and a real professional quality. We did do a few demos at a place called Nemix as well, the guys who run it are lush and have all the time in the world for new musicians. 

As for venues, there’s so many amazing ones. The Exchange 1856 in North Shields is absolutely beautiful and so is Reds Bar at Northumbria University. The Cluny is always great to play and we loved playing Two by Two Brewery up in Byker. 

Where will people be able to see you in the North East this year?

Shay: We’re adding more dates all the time, but over the next few weeks, we’re playing with one of our favourite bands, Junodream, at The Cluny on February 20, so people can come and dance with us there. We’re playing Coastal Crawl in North Shields on February 17 and also Coast Fest on June 23 – and then there’ll be our album launch which will be confirmed soon and lots more festival dates.

To keep your eyes and ears on Bear Park, follow them on Instagram and Facebook and drop by their website at www.bearparkmusic.com

@samwonfor

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