THE BEAR NECESSITIES

I made mention yesterday of how much I had enjoyed the theatre show ‘What Girls Are Made Of’, making reference to the role played by all four members of the highly talented cast.

One of the four was Susan Bear, whose main role was to re-enact the part of the band’s drummer Cathryn Stirling.

It had been quite a while I had last caught sight of Susan on any stage. I had first seen her back in 2014 when a new and really intriguing band called Tuff Love burst onto the Glasgow scene.

Tuff Love was a duo consisting of Julie Eisenstein on guitar and vocals and Suse Bear on bass and vocals, who also called on their friend Iain Stewart, a member of The Phantom Band (who were on the roster of Chemikal Underground to play drums in the live setting. The music they made was lo-fi to the extreme, made entirely at home with Suse utilising the engineering and production skills she was learning within her college course. It was, nevertheless, something of an enchanting listen, issued on vinyl by Lost Map Records, a label which itself was just starting to make some waves on the local scene having been founded by Jonny Lynch of The Pictish Trail following his decision to end his association with the critically acclaimed and successful Fence Records.

Tuff Love seemed to be a throwback to the C86 era in their wholly independent approach to music making which extended itself to their live shows which, it has to be said, were often a bit hit-and-miss, usually because the venue’s sound man (and it was inevitably a bloke) failing dismally to get the mix right with the drums overwhelming the lightness of the vocals and playing. Having said that, when they did get it right, they were as enthralling and intriguing an act as any, and I was at a fair number of their shows during 2014 and 2015, whether as headliners or as part of the support acts.

There were three 10” EPs, all of which had self-deprecating titles.  The first was called Junk, the second was named Dross and the third was given the name Dregs; the records were released over a period of some eighteen months from the summer of 2014, with each of them containing five tracks. The last time I saw Tuff Love was at Stereo in Glasgow, in early 2016, not long after the label had issued Resort, bringing together all 15 tracks from the EPs in one handy compilation on CD and vinyl. It was a great show, and I was certain the band would go on to bigger things.

It turns out that they would spend the summer on the bills of most of the summer festivals after which they just disappeared off the radar. I’m guessing that Julie and Suze chose to go their separate ways although I don’t recall any announcement from the band or label.

Susan is now described as a Glasgow-based multi-instrumentalist, sound designer and performer with her part in the 2018 production of What Girls Want proving to be the first play she had ever performed in, although you would never have known that such was the confidence she exuded on the stage.

I’m not sure what the future hold for her, but you can be certain that it will be intriguing and worth keeping an eye out for.

In the meantime, here’s Track 1 from each of the 3 EPs:-

mp3 : Tuff Love – Sweet Discontent
mp3 : Tuff Love – Slammer
mp3 : Tuff Love – Duke

JC

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