British Quartet China Bears Release Debut Album Participation Trophy

Rising indie four-piece China Bears have released their highly anticipated debut album Participation Trophy. Speaking on the release, lead singer Ivan Proctor said: “Participation Trophy, at its core, is an album about hope, loss, grief, friendships, relationships and overcoming feelings of inadequacy. The album is a nod to the journey China Bears have taken from inception up until now, four friends growing up together from late teens into adolescence. It’s very much about the idea of being part of something, with all the good and bad. Life isn’t always a clear upwards trajectory, and as we’ve grown we’re learning that what’s important is turning up, being there for yourself and others, and not to necessarily be the best, but to do your best.”

China Bears

China Bears (Rob Blackham/Blackham Images)
China Bears (Rob Blackham/Blackham Images)

The recording process for Participation Trophy saw the quartet travel to Edinburgh, Scotland, to record 13 songs in 2 weeks with Rod Jones of Idlewild at Post Electric Studios in the autumnal sunshine of Leith. It was the first time the band had worked with a producer. Contrary to the writing process, which at times was a painful endeavour when trying to bring out their most authentic selves, the recording process with Rod was nothing but smooth and enjoyable. Listen to the new LP here.

Originally formed in Somerset by twin brothers Ivan (vocals, guitar) and Frazer Proctor (lead guitar), the China Bears line up was completed after meeting James Zealey (bass) and Dean McCaw (drums) at university in Guildford If melodic diligence counts for anything, China Bears are masters of their arty leftfield craft. Through a series of terrific tours and exquisitely-balanced EP releases I’ve Never Met Anyone Like YouStatue Still and All That Distance, they have displayed an innate ability to blend the alt.rock rush with the acoustic hush.

Rousing and romantic, debut album Participation Trophy feels cinematic in its grandeur, whilst also feeling incredibly personal in its storytelling. From the driving I Will Break My Own Heart, the twinkling Beck And Call, the electric force of Total Communication Breakdown to the blossoming Gracie, there is a song to accompany everyone’s own life soundtrack.

Whether it’s ripping apart the stage with their misery-anthemic indie or captivating the room to pin drop silence singing their songs shoulder to shoulder in the middle of the crowd, China Bears have gained recognition for their emotive high energy and intimate performances which have drawn knowing comparisons to The National, Death Cab For Cutie and Frightened Rabbit.

China Bears will be touring the UK this October, playing nine headline shows across the country. The tour will see them play venues in Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester, Norwich, Nottingham, Birmingham, London and Bristol. Tickets here. Full list of dates below:

Upcoming UK tour dates:

1st – Sidney & Matilda, Sheffield
2nd – Head of Steam, Newcastle
3rd – Broadcast, Glasgow
4th – Off The Square, Manchester
5th – Voodoo Daddy’s, Norwich
8th – Bodega, Nottingham
9th – Hare & Hounds 2, Birmingham
10th – Oslo, London
11th – The Exchange, Bristol

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