Meet The Band: Bear Cat

Pic courtesy of Chelsea Metcalf
Pic courtesy of Chelsea Metcalf

Meet The Band is The Corner’s brand new interview feature with bands that you really should be listening to. This week we have Bear Cat, who have just released their album ‘Xiong Mao.’ We caught up with Dan Trevarthen to talk about pandas, influences and what’s in store for the future of the band.

Who are Bear Cat? “Jocee plays the omnichord, keyboard, xylophone, piano and all those sorts of things as well as singing. I usually just play the guitar and sing and write most of the songs. Various special friends play other instruments at various times and these people are usually called Alex, Romelli, Ben, Dave, Theo and Chelsea.”

Tell us about how you got started. “Bear Cat started out in my lounge in 2006. I was just on my latest childish obsession, which happened to be pandas… I sung Jocee the silly lyrics to ‘Panda I Love You’ over a really typical chord progression. It was pretty throwaway fare but when Jocee sang along it sounded kinda magical – full credit to her amazing voice. We wrote four songs pretty quickly and put them on Myspace, then all of a sudden real bands were asking us to play at Schooner. We spent the next three years dilly dallying and slowly recording what became ‘ Xiong Mao.’ It’s hard to be productive when you’re doing shows, but right now we’re more productive than ever.”

So, pandas? “We decided to stick to pandas as a lyrical theme because songs about them seemed to carry a certain joyful tone that didn’t come with other topics. At some stages I wasn’t sure if I could ever write a song about something else, for risk of losing that special feeling. But we’re slowing figuring our way around other material that’s even better. I think any topic could have served as a creative restriction, but pandas work particularly well because I know exactly what they’re going through.”

How you would describe Bear Cat to someone who hasn’t heard you before? “Bear Cat is a 2-6 piece pop band that wants to be the Ramones, but likes the production of the Ronettes… but has no money to record in a real studio. We sound like taking a train ride to the top of a mountain to sing a boy/girl duet and then the train doesn’t stop and keeps going into the sky. To a funeral. Then a birthday party in a pit of coloured balls.”

Where do your main influences come from? “When I write songs for Bear Cat I’ll be influenced by ideas more than a certain sound. Like I’ll hear a band do a call and response kinda chorus or a particular rhythm, then I’ll try and replicate that with the tools I have at hand. But because of my limitations, restrictions and obsessions it doesn’t often sound recognisable… except for the overt Ramones homages. Dylan made me want to tell a story, Cursive made me want to yell and cartoons and comics make me want to obscure serious themes and ideas with juvenile content.”

What’s next for Bear Cat? “The near future of Bear Cat is a little tour of Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, then home to Auckland for a show and to keep writing new stuff. I am currently working on songs set in such locations as the top of mountains and the bottom of the sea.”

‘Xiong Mao’ is available now from all good record stores. You can also purchase it right here.

Tour dates as follows:

September 24th @ Watusi, Wellington
September 25th @ Red Panda’s Panda Prom, Christchurch
September 26th @ Chick’s Hotel, Dunedin
October 3rd @ Wine Cellar, Auckland (Great North’s EP release party)


  1. bear cat is the best! the new members add so much

  2. would like to point out that is a piece of chalk not a post-chalking cigarette.

  3. Pingback: Meet The Band: Dear Time’s Waste « The Corner

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