“I had very poor time management this morning,” David Hosking says, dodging traffic over the phone from Sydney, “I’m just picking up my first coffee now.”
Dave might need the caffeine. He’s the lead vocalist for Aussie indie-folk group, Boy & Bear, and they’re gearing up for one hectic summer. The band’s new album, Suck On Light, drops on on 27 September, and the global ‘Hold Your Nerve’ tour kick’s off in Brisbane this month. It’s the first good news Boy & Bear has had since Limit Of Love went ARIA Gold in 2015. For a while there, Dave’s poor health (he suffers from the chronic gut disorder, dysbiosis) threatened to completely de-rail the band.
Now Dave and the boys (fellow band members Killian Gavin, Tim Hart, Jonathan Hart and David Symes) are back. And the future’s looking bright for the first time in years.
“It’s like riding a bike really,” Dave says. “We just want to grab this opportunity with both hands.”
What was it like recording again after being away from the scene?
It feels great. I think we put a lot of work into this album—you always do—but in light of the challenges this time, it felt like a long time coming. We were just really focussed. There was a great energy in the group, and we were feeling so grateful for being back in the studio.
Were there times you thought the band might fold?
Yeah absolutely. Particularly up until the point where I discovered what was going on [with my health]. It was a real prospect. Even once we worked it out, trying to treat something that hasn’t really been treated effectively before was always going to be an uphill battle. Almost out of necessity, I managed to convince myself that it was going to be okay.
Tell us about the new album. What’s the theme?
Well, the whole record is about being sick for the best part of a decade. The challenge is, if you’re writing the way we write, it has to come from a nice place. And because this thing took over my life, I didn’t have a whole lot to write about. Apart from what it taught me. The challenge was making sure every song didn’t sound like a rehash of the same idea.
And what did it teach you?
I think we’re a different band now. In amongst the obvious stuff, when you do something for long enough, you learn things about eachother. You’re growing as artists and players. In this case, life has a way of throwing stuff at you, and everything else has to stop. And us having to kind of face that, with a lot of uncertainty, and absorb those pressures…it’s a cliché, but it has made us stronger.
‘Hold Your Nerve’ is the new single. How did that one come about?
That’s interesting, that song. We’d pretty much finished the record and we had some extra time, plus all these half ideas, and sometimes that’s where you get the best results. So we pushed that song a little further. It had an immediacy to it, a high energy, in amongst the more intricate songs on the record. The guys were enjoying just being allowed to let loose and build up some textures.
I’ve heard you described as “indie”, “folk” and “rock-folk”. How would you categorise Boy & Bear?
I don’t know. It’s evolved a bit. I think we’ve moved more towards being a ‘pop band’, in that we write a lot of pop songs. How to describe that is a tricky thing. We’ve always had strong influences from 70s pop music. I’d call it 70s pop music with some darker undertones. We still love melody and story, but I think we’re moving towards more hypnotic grooves and synths.
So what’s next for Boy & Bear?
We’re going to do this tour, probably get back early next year. Once we wash ourselves clean of this record, we’ll inevitably start writing again. Right now we’re bracing ourselves for the tour onslaught, which is a bit of a love-hate relationship. When the time’s right, we’ll start all over again. Generally, 12 months after you finish the last album, you start getting itchy.
Boy & Bear's Aussie tour kicks off 15 August in Brisbane, stopping in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. For tickets and info, head here.
Did you hear the news? Travis Scott is headlining Australia’s answer to Glastonbury. Read all about it here.
Image Credit: Universal Music Australia