China Bears make an emotional return to the Boileroom to celebrate the release of their debut EP, I’ve Never Met Anyone Like You.

China Bears were one of the first bands that we were lucky enough to review live as well as one of our very first interviews – and actually, my first time ever going to the Boileroom – back when we formed WaveByte in 2017. The boys in China Bears have returned to the Boileroom as part of the ‘I’ve Never Met Anyone Like You’ tour which kicked off mid-September and saw the band travel across the UK to promote the release of their debut EP. The tour will continue into the first week of December with an upcoming show in London on the 5th.

With the band initially forming as a student outfit at ACM, this Guildford show felt like a homecoming of sorts where friends and family could come together to celebrate the boys’ recent successes. This feeling prevailed throughout the night; the crowd cheered as frontman Ivan spoke about the release of their EP, the feeling of touring, and the upcoming graduation of their photographer ‘SpicyCow’. This show kicked off with support from Lifelike Charlie, Basement Club, and the Collier, each providing a good mix of their styles of music and prompting encouragement for their fellow performers.

Playing through their limited yet excellent discography with surprise appearances from unreleased tracks, there appeared to be several subtle hints at an upcoming LP. As the tracklist progressed with fan favourites Stay for Good and Night Calls encouraging bopping from the crowd, it’s hard not to realise that China Bears are everything that indie music should be – a group of people having fun with an undertow of heavy, emotional drama that reminds the listener ‘Hey, that’s similar to what I’ve been through.’

Pausing before another unreleased song, Ivan shares an intimate story with us – “I broke up with my girlfriend, and Lady Gaga’s song Joanna was playing in the background. I thought it was called Jolene. I only recently found out that it wasn’t. I’m not going to change it, though” – gathering smatterings of applause and chuckles that seem both mass cathartic and understanding in one.

Finishing the gig by promising this is their “last song”, the band snuck off stage to deafening cheers, thunderous applause, and booming declares of “MORE!”. They returned shortly after, bypassing the stage entirely in lieu of entering the crowd. There, they performed an acoustic version of their enchanting single Meet Me in London. It was incredible to see such an excited audience suddenly fall silent in order to hear these four men spill their hearts. Powerful stuff.

In essence, China Bears are killing it right now. Everything about them screams potential, talent, empathy, and relatability, ready to slide in with that happy-sad genre of lucid indie pop. Since that first show we reviewed in 2017, the band have grown into a classy group of entertainers. It’ll be intriguing to track them and see how they continue to develop over the next few years and to compare them to now.

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Will Wilkins

Q&A with Guitarist, Frazer Proctor.

We last spoke to you guys in April of 2017 – at the time, you’d just released your debut single Hydra. Over the past summer, you released your debut EP I’ve Never Met Anyone Like You. How have things changed for the band between these events?

We’ve grown a lot in terms of ourselves, generally just as songwriters and musicians. We graduated university and since then have just been playing live and writing as much as we can.

Has your sound changed much over the past two years? How would you describe it for new listeners?

I think over the past two years with the more songs we’ve released we’ve widened the pallet of our songwriting. At our core it’s indie rock but it can be intimate and anthemic.

You’ve been all around the UK over the past couple of weeks; how have you been finding the tour?

The tour has been really nice and an entirely new experience for us. It’s our first proper headline run so it’s been amazing so far to play in cities we’ve never been to with people showing up who know our music.

Are you excited to play the Boileroom?

We’re extremely excited to play The Boileroom. It’s always nice to come back and see some friendly faces. It’s been a great space and they’ve been very supportive and generous to us over the few years of this band.

What’s the best part about being in the band at the moment?

It’s an exciting time for China Bears and we’re very grateful for this past year we’ve had. Since releasing the EP in the summer and playing shows in new cities to people who know our music and have connected with it has been really nice.

What’s the future looking like for China Bears? Have you got any plans or goals? Any exciting projects in the works?

The future is looking good. We’re currently on this tour which will end at The Old Blue Last in London on December 5th. Then we’ll be back in the studio recording new music ready for 2020. We’re also heading to SXSW in Texas next March which is hugely exciting.

What music have you been listening to recently? Who’s been inspiring you?

I have been listening to so much new music, this year has been amazing for it. Personally, I’ve been listening to a lot of Bear’s Den, Tim Baker, The National, the districts, Pinegrove, Maggie Rogers, half moon run, Noah Gundersen, Julia Jacklin, big thief… I could really go on for days. It’s all very inspiring stuff.

When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?

That band wrote some great songs.

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