Sunbear – Bits

Sunbear and In Motion will always hold a special place in our hearts despite breaking up a long time ago. They both appeared around the same time in mid 1990’s Dublin and adopted a similar post-shoegaze sound. You can find both of their debut albums on indiecater (here and there) and even though the century has changed they remain vital releases. As it happens both bands never recorded a follow-up LP, however Sunbear did put together a couple of fine EP’s (Bits and Pieces, Dog) that are near impossible to track down. Bits includes both these EP’s as well as a clutch of unreleased tracks culled from dusty old master tapes. It has been quite an achievement to get this package together and much of the praise must go to Patrick Moran for making it possible. Bits is a startling album in its own right with potential mixtape favourites dotted throughout.

This collection is available to download for just 4 euro but if you are one of the first 20 people to buy it you will also get an ultra rare copy of Sunbear’s eponymous debut in the post.

Here is Patrick from Sunbear with some background on Bits.

When I first came into contact with mp3hugger we discussed re-releasing the Sunbear album and went on to do just that. But I guess deep down I always felt I could use the opportunity to do something with the songs we had recorded after the album. I always had a feeling of unfinished business when I thought about those songs.

The Bits and Pieces EP came out a couple of years after the album and actually did kinda ok for us – it was given a Hot Press single of the fortnight review and we thought we were growing up a little as a band. Joe Chester got involved with the band and started to bounce ideas off Martin and things looked pretty promising. Though we were never the most prolific band I still felt we were writing some good songs at that time. Martin’s usual influences of MBV, Sebadoh, Swervedriver were all still evident but the songs started getting a little more accomplished and other influences he had, such as John Lennon, Evan Dando & Roxy Music started to creep in too. Around this time we came up with a song called Dog which I think we all agree is the best song we have written, and also came up with songs such as Poke My Side and Bits which we are still very proud of today. We got a good buzz going and some pretty cool support slots with bands like Suede, Sebadoh and Grandaddy. This ensured that, even if we gained nothing else from our music careers, for years to come we could drunkenly mutter at bouncers as we were ejected from pubs…”I fuugggin played with SSSHeebadoh ya fuggiin pprrick!”.

Probably to our detriment, other influences started to lurk in the shadows too, the music “industry” came knocking. At that time the idea of self releasing music, even though we had self released our album, was not a hugely popular one. I guess inevitably we kinda fell into the trap of looking for record deals etc. We did eventually sign to the Enclave, an American record label who funded some demos for us, some of which appear here (Somebody Change The Season, Pennies). In truth these songs were a bit of a let down to us, they could have been much better. But because they kinda formed part of our story, albeit the concluding chapter, I still thought they should be included here. Shortly after this the record label was folded.

The band continued on for a while after this but rehearsals and gigs especially were getting further and further apart. As life and age began catching up on us we started drifting apart and eventually decided to call it a day sometime around 1998/99. We did do a very limited release of some of the songs from mid to late 90s on an internet release called in 2000, but it’s a real rarity.

This collection of songs is pretty much in chronological order from the Bits and Pieces EP in 1996 and includes almost everything we recorded up to the time the band split including the songs that appeared on the Dog EP in 2000. The collection starts with Leadbelt, with its prominent keyboard intro, and finishes on Bits. This was often how we started and finished our live sets. Here you have to settle for the 7 minute plus studio version of Bits which comes to a close with strings provided by Marc Carolan. I myself yearn for the days when we did our best to make peoples ears bleed in Whelan’s with the song often extending to a ten minute shambolic noise fest ending with guitars squealing and feedback almost knocking me off my drum stool. They were the days!

It’s probably appropriate that one of those songs we recorded for The Enclave “Pennies” with its closing lines of “penniless and painless is such a better way to be” is also included here as that is ultimately how we ended up from our music careers. The band ended, but we all still remain good friends and certainly none of us have become rich men from the experience! Yet!


Old Press For the Bits and Pieces EP

Hot Press

…Sunbear make big, bold & very beautiful music…the rollicking Leadbelt & melancholic beauty of Bits and Each To Their Own do more than enough to justify the coveted single of the fortnight slot…

The RTE Guide

…Sunbear’s Bits & Pieces is another example of the Dublin foursomes skill of meshing the darkly sinister with some artfully considered experimentation…

New Press For Bits

Side One: Track One

…late 90s shoe-gaze perfection…


…cracking florescent melodies…

Fense Post, Last Splash Blog, Indie Music Filter, State Magazine, 2uibestow.

One thought on “Sunbear – Bits”

  1. the o’er hasty part of me was ready to write this off as Slowdive-lite or Secret Shine(on)bait…until the first of several scintillating breakdowns break through…and gosh: bliss. in the post post Creation years, anyone with a whispery voice, a jazzmaster, and a spate of fuzz pedals can make the gaze of shoe; but to make a statement somehow…not all that cinchy. this is charming as can-be. give it to ole Jack Rabid at The Big Takeover to review! (ah, he prolly has their 7″s haha). cheers.

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