We chat with Matt Hickman from Brown Bear & The Bandits prior to a series of acoustic gigs which will take them to the Highlands.

2013 started well for the Largs based four piece with an enormously positive response to debuts single “Olive Tree“.

Matt explained that it was both music professionals and fans that enjoyed the track “I’m really happy with how it turned out. The response from both music industry and music fans was overwhelming and our existing fan base really got behind it.”

Both the number of people that watched the video and it’s general response appears to have surprised the band “I’m really happy with how it turned out. The response from both music industry and music fans was overwhelming and our existing fan base really got behind it.”

The positivity and good feedback picks you up and helps you know that even if you’re not quite there, you’re going in the right direction."
The positivity and good feedback picks you up and helps you know that even if you’re not quite there, you’re going in the right direction.”

Matt has a very balanced view on the feedback that the band has received “It is great to get reviews good or bad. Someone taking the time to give you feedback is a great thing and you learn arguably more about yourself and your flaws and what can be improved from the negative feedback.” Of course hearing the praise is always good “The positivity and good feedback picks you up and helps you know that even if you’re not quite there, you’re going in the right direction.”

In part the video proved a launchpad for the rest of 2013 that saw the band tour with Miniature Dinosaurs, including a sell-out gig at King Tuts, as well as strong clutch of festival appearances. Support slots with The View and Babyshambles also followed and it was with the latter that they were able to fulfil a life long dream by playing in front of a sold out Barrowlands.

Upwards and Onwards

Matt acknowledges the successes of 2013 “We did a lot of good things and got a lot of big opportunities in 2013 so we hope to capitalize on them and hopefully have more of the same in 2014.”.  On top of their live achievements they also managed to find time to record “We have now finished the album so this year will be the year of our debut album gets released and our big push on the recorded side of things.”

The LP was completed late last, which gave them the opportunity to return to playing live “We finished recording the album just before September then gigged from then until Christmas, so it was nice to get some time to start writing again over the holiday season.” The plan for the first LP is clearly thought out “As for our debut album, the first single will be released in May and the album will hopefully come out in September.”

“I just fancied getting out and trying some of the new material I had been writing. No better way to try out a song than in its barest form (acoustically)."
“I just fancied getting out and trying some of the new material I had been writing. No better way to try out a song than in its barest form (acoustically).”

The timely development of the album, did not create a barrier to his imaginativeness, referring to the time in the studio Matt declares “I absolutely love it.” “The album process is a long one, so instead of just waiting about for things to happen we are just continuing to be creative and writing towards future releases.” This has resulted in opportunity to develop new tunes; ” I’ve spent the last month demoing new songs and taking them to the band to get them sounding like the finished article.”

The forthcoming trip to Inverness (and also to Thurso) in part relates to the new material; “I just fancied getting out and trying some of the new material I had been writing. No better way to try out a song than in its barest form (acoustically). If a song doesn’t come across as strong without the band then you’re really just going to spend your time trying to make it seem like a good song in the studio etc to most likely not use it in the end anyway.”

1-IMG_5395Matt will be joined by most recent band member Paul McGranaghan for the gigs, “[prior to joining the band]he was a great songwriter in his own right. So me and Paul have been writing a lot together lately and want to go and test the songs out.”

The final reasons for paying the Highlands a visit are simple “I just love it up North, the promoters are great, Steve Robertson is always a great host, the people are friendly, the scenery is amazing and more than anything you guys absolutely know and love your music!”. You can’t say fairer than that?

Brown Bear & The Bandits (acoustic) come to Mad Hatters on Thursday February 27th. Support will come from Red Ronson. Brown Bear & The Bandits will also be playing the Y-Not Bar & Grill on the 28th of February.

Follow the band on Twitter, Facebook and Soundcloud.

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A lifelong passion for music matched with a geeky fascination for social media and websites resulted in the creation of Inverness Gigs back in 2010. The aim of the site is to help promote, support and generally raise awareness of the local music scene.In fairness fifteen years of being a psychiatric nurse never prepared me for the experiences that we have had over the last few years and the evolution of Inverness Gigs has certainly been a steep learning curve.I currently write (less and less), edit and co-ordinate most of the Inverness Gigs activities.Occasionally seen on Twitter, and  LinkedIn, if you want get in touch you can contact me direct at chris@igi.gs