Hailing from the north east of England four-piece Bear Trade are set to play the Manchester Punk Festival for a second time.
The band are well known on the punk circuit and have already toured the East Coast of America with Aussie friends The Smith Street Band, and followed this up with ‘Blood & Sand’, their well received debut album. With sophomore album ‘Silent unspeakable’ out on the 21st April (the same day the band take to the stage at the MPF) we thought we’d chat new music, festivals and the mighty city of Manchester with the four friends…
How does it feel to be in Manchester playing at a festival which is solely for punk bands?
It is an interesting concept in this day and age exactly what “punk” is…I guess what MPF have done is encompassed all of the musical genres which form the more general umbrella of what constitutes “punk” these days, more accurately reflected in ethos and work ethic rather than a certain sound. From our perspective, it is exciting to see bands that were a part of our upbringings and who we share some historical connection with, along with the new young bands who we might be exposed to for the first time. The social element of MPF should not be underestimated either
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Have you played in Manchester before? If so, which venues?
As Bear Trade we played at MPF a couple of years ago, once doing our own set and once doing a set of Replacements covers. We’ve played at The Star & Garter, Wahlbar and more recently twice at Alphabet Brewery Company at two gigs I helped put on there.
Which bands do you plan on seeing throughout the weekend?
We are only there for the Friday, as we are heading off for a few dates with Strike Anywhere afterwards, so I can only really comment on that day. But (obviously) Strike Anywhere are one of the main draws not only for us but for a large number of people. They haven’t played in the UK in their own right for years, and this will be a very special evening. Chief reforming is exciting too, and Sweet Empire are always a lot of fun.
Manchester is of course famous for The Sex Pistol’s gig at the Free Trade hall back in 1976, would you want your performance to create a similar legacy?
I’d say, hand on heart, that over the course of our collective years in bands, it’s fair to say that all we would ever hope to do is connect with people via our musical outputs. It is just as rewarding and powerful – to me – to be able to connect with one individual as it is tens or hundreds or thousands. We are very proud of the songs we write, and our new LP “Silent Unspeakable” is actually released on the day we play MPF, so that is exciting to get out into the world.
What is your favourite venue in Manchester?
Definitely Alphabet Brewing Company, on the basis that we could combine a love of beer and music in a DIY environment surrounded by friends.
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How are your band different those on the line up at MPF? Why should festival visitors switch venue to come and see you play?
We’re probably older in terms of age but youthful at heart! We have recently been described as “sad punk for happy drunks” and “…pretty uplifting…no one does it like you guys in the UK anymore” so make of that what you will. Come and listen to our new songs and share a beer with us.
Punk certainly isn’t dead, Have you got anything to say about the punk scene?
Speaking personally, “punk” has shaped my life for the past 30 years. I worked for bands, wrote in fanzines, travelled across the UK/Europe/US seeing bands and places, put on gigs, put bands up in my home, worked in music distribution, and also try very hard to make some decent (yet loud) sounds from my bass. My outlook on life and travel and politics and music have all been massively influenced by the many facets of what I identify with as “punk”. It’s definitely a feeling, a personal thing, but instantly recognisable without the need for a “uniform” or a strict label. I have lifelong friends across the globe thanks to this, experiences that money could never buy. I work hard in a full time job to support my family and myself, and music is my fuel, my energy…it keeps me doing all of the same things as it is not just ingrained in me, it is part of what defines me. I remain driven and constantly excited, and there is nothing greater than hearing a band for the first time and feeling that sparkle and connection. Hopefully that’s what people get when they see Bear Trade, because we are like you and you are like us. We are all weighed down with our own personal life struggles, but we remain cheerful and enjoy the company of others and a few beers…because sometimes that is all you need to get you through.
So in a wider context the spirit of what I define as “punk” is alive in all of us, as long as we choose to keep that fire burning…