Band Interview: talks to Little Bear

Little BearLittle Bear are a quartet from Derry who make lovingly crafted soundscapes accompanied with heartfelt and poetic lyrics reminiscent of bands like Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses and Bon Iver.

The band are Steven McCool (Bass and vocals), Mark O’Doherty (Drums), Ryan Griffiths (Guitar), and Conor Mason (Piano).

The group only formed around 18 months ago but have already made impressive waves in the music industry including performing on Other Voices and signing with the much respected  label Smalltown America. From following the band online over the last year or so they’re obviously hardworking and intent on expanding their current fanbase even further.

Little Bear look set to achieve that with several festival appearances this summer including this weekend’s Glasgowbury Festival.

We caught up with the band’s guitarist Ryan, to find out how Little Bear find playing to a festival crowd, who would make their dream festival line-up and who they will be checking out at Glasgowbury. You can also connect with the band on and post who else you’re excited about seeing this weekend.

Little Bear performed at the Derry and London editions of Other Voices, the show is growing from strength to strength your performance at the London event received phenomenal reviews. How was it for you to be involved? 

When we first heard that Derry would be hosting Other Voices, we joked about playing the main stage; we didn’t actually think we would get to share the stage with such great artists.  We played in St. Augustines to a great response and the Other Voices crew were at the show, so we thought it was a success and went onto celebrate in a local bar.  Having heard that Two Door Cinema Club had pulled out due to illness and we thought “if only”.  Later that evening we got a call from the crew asking us to fill in.  It was so surreal. Getting asked to perform on the London leg gave us such a massive boost of confidence, not only had they faith to promote us to the main stage in Derry but enjoyed the set enough to bring us back. So as an experience it was just incredible and has given us a taste of just how far we want to go.

The band are now signed to Smalltown America, one of the most exciting independent labels, run by great people. How did your signing with STA come about?

We played at the STA all-dayer at the Culture Tech Festival last year in the craft village. Andrew Ferris from STA happened to hear our set and really enjoyed our sound. After that he came to see us a few more times and then offered to work with us. We are delighted to be working with a great team and one of the hardest working labels. We can’t wait for the single release on July 15th now.

It’s a summer of festivals for the band having just performed at Groove Music Festival, with Glasgowbury and Stendhal Festival just around the corner. As a band what’s the best and toughest part of playing to a festival crowd?

Festivals are a whole different type of live performance and most now cater for all types of music. Trying to engage an audience that may not be interested in your music can be toughest part of playing festivals but for us a great challenge. The best part about playing festivals is simply that everyone is there for music and to enjoy themselves. So there’s always a great atmosphere at them.

Is your approach to playing festivals different to a Little Bear gig?

Groove was our first festival of the year and we loved it, but we also learned a lot from it. At our own gigs, people are there because they generally know the music and will get into the songs from the first strum. With festivals I think it’s important to make an impact from the start to let the audience know you’re there.

What other bands are you looking forward to seeing at Glasgowbury? Have you ever attended the festival as regular festival goers?

There are so many bands we want to see this year at Glasgowbury, the line up is huge. But during Music City we had the pleasure of playing alongside And So I Watch You From Afar. That was my first time seeing them live and I was blown away, so for me, I can’t wait to see their set. We’ve played before in different bands and we’ve all attended as regular goers. There has always been a fantastic vibe and it’s a shame that this will be the last year as a full scale event.

What is the all time favourite festival you’ve each attended?

One of the best local festivals was the Inishfree rock festival in 2007. It was on an island off the coast of Donegal. It had only one resident, who was happy enough to let all of us run a little mad. The weather was amazing and taking a boat to a small island to enjoy amazing music was just brilliant. As regards the big-ticket festivals I went to Oxegen in 2008 and was just blown away by Rage Against the Machine, REM and Ben Folds.

If Little Bear could curate and headline their own festival, where would it be set and who would join you on stage?

Now that is a question that could take forever to answer. There’s just too much choice haha. I loved taking a boat to a private island for a festival, so I think something along those lines. As regards bands, I think I’d be really selfish and just pick bands I’ve always wanted to see live.

Where else can we see Little Bear perform live in 2013?

After Glasgowbury, we’re heading down to Cork for Indiependence, Offaly for Castlepalooza then back up to play Stendhal.

A lot more in the works just not set in stone just yet.

Little Bear’s first release for STA is the epic double A-Side, Night Dries Like Ink / Killer which you can buy now.little bear single

Connect with the band on and post your reviews of Glasgowbury in the community to capture the last year of this much-loved festival.


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