After the most tumultuous period of their lives both personally and professionally, Boy & Bear are back with a triumphant new single, ‘Hold Your Nerve’, their first new music since 2015’s Gold-selling Limit of Love.
Produced by Boy & Bear and Collin Dupuis (The Black Keys; Lana Del Rey) and mixed by Tom Elmhirst (Amy Winehouse, Beck, Adele), ‘Hold Your Nerve’ is an upbeat, optimistic song in which the Sydney band channels their trademark penchant for organic, seventies sounds into one of their most direct, modern and addictive songs to date.
Accompanying the release of ‘Hold your Nerve’ is a digital B-side called ‘Work Of Art’ (also mixed by Elmhirst), which offers a window into another, more introspective side to Suck On Light.
“Whenever I got a bit better, the first thing I’d notice is that my senses would come to life a bit,” says Hosking. “So I’d notice smells and my sense of touch would come back, and it would always be something simple like the wind or hearing birds. So ‘Work Of Art’ is an homage to Mother Nature.”
Boy & Bear will reintroduce themselves to Australian fans via a series of intimate shows in August, before heading to North America in September and the UK and Europe in early 2020. While Hosking’s health remains a work in progress, both he and the band can finally look to the future with optimism.
‘Hold Your Nerve’ is their first step back into the light.
Boy & Bear is happy.
Boy & Bear is Tambourine.
Boy & Bear is good for you.
Ash Lee chats with Jon Hart
Ash: You played at The Astor Theatre last year, this year year you’re playing the Perth Concert Hall…does that mean next year you’ll be at the Perth Arena?
Jon: I don’t know, hopefully! That’d be awesome if we did.
Ash: Boy & Bear’s vocalist Dave Hosking was quite unwell last year, what was that like for the band and how is he going now?
Jon: It was particularly hard for him, obviously dealing with a health issue itself was an all-consuming situation and it was pretty rough in terms of the band because you know, you don’t want to be adding to the situation for him but at the same time there are four other people’s livelihoods sort of depending on his health so yeah, it was tricky but it was really nice to get back into the shows and it’s been even nicer to see Dave kind of being back to himself, back to his old self – that’s been really nice.
Ash: That’s great, its good to hear that Dave is doing well. Have you got new music coming up for us?
Jon: Yeah we do, we put out a record late last year so we’ve been introducing that as a live set which has been really nice. I think its sort of hard for people, maybe, to tolerate too much new stuff when it hasn’t actually been real eased so now that the record’s been out for a little while people have had a chance to get used to it and I think we can start to introduce more of it into sets. It’s our fourth record now and we did an EP at the start so we’ve got quite a few songs we can call on to try and build a set now so that has been really enjoyable, trying to put it together where there are some flavours of the new but also still feature sold of the olds that we think people probably want to hear as well.
Ash: And what is the creative process like for you guys? In terms of songwriting and rehearsing?
Jon: As far as the songwriting goes, basically, Dave has always written the lyrics and Tim helps him out, definitely because Tim does a solo singer songwriter thing. Dave will tend to work with lyrics and tear as the actual kind of music of a song, that can come any number of different ways. Whether it be someone, one of the five of us bringing a bit of an idea or alternatively it can be a kind of jam situation in the writing room where we’ kinda go “oh this is a cool sounding beat” or “these two chords sound nice together let’s see if we can do something with that.” I guess we’ve expanded over the years, on our first sort of album EP it was Dave with kinda…almost like folk songs or folk ideas that we would turn into songs with the group but they were very much acoustic guitar based pieces. That has definitely shifted over the last three records. It’s been cool, I guess it means…the way we see it is we have more options now by the time we get to an album so we’re looking for things that feel good to us and things that feel like we’re stretching ourselves and continuing to progress as well.
Ash: Are their any bands or artists that you’d like to collaborate with?
Jon: That’s a hard question, I think…it’d be a different thing…it’d be cool to do something with another artist and to see what the result is..as far as a singer or another band… I was reading something, on the way to a show on the weekend, I was reading an interview with Nigel Godrich who is a guy who has produced a lot of Radiohead stuff and I think we have just always loved him and I think of him as an artist and so I would love to work with someone who has made records that we love and who is a lover of music and so yeah, I would probably say him but if it was going to be another singer, I reckon Lana Del Ray would be pretty cool. We’ve all been loving her latest album and she’s got a really cool vibe and that’s a hard thing to do in the modern day where I feel she sort of owns her own thing really well and I like her music. She’s a great lyricist as well.
Ash: I would love to see a collaboration between Boy & Bear and Lana Del Ray…I think that would be a great partnership. If you could change something about the music scene in Australia, what would you do?
Jon: I wish it integrated a bit better with overseas, maybe…on some level. I think streaming kind of helps it but I think it still can be a little, um….I think sometimes we find it a little tricky trying to manage things between Australia and the US and UK but I feel like the Australian scene is really cool, so maybe…like either…actually I wish that the US scene and the European scene had something like triple j, like a radio station that would support local music and support the music more than the kind of ad driven content…I think that would be really cool because it makes your life as a musician, I think, easier and more enjoyable because if you can find your way into that then that’s a really great thing that opens a lot of avenues and yeah, so, it’s a little different overseas. We actually have a lot of good things going here and we notice that when we go overseas and I think because we’re a smaller market here in Australia, we do suffer a little bit from that… when we go overseas people can be like “oh you’re much bigger in Australia” but that doesn’t really mean a lot to them and there’s an element to which they don’t take you quite as seriously…so I don’t know, we’ve still got that sort of small country thing going on but I think that’s a positive because it means we fight hard for it.
Ash: do you have any advice for young people in Australia that want to make a career for themselves in the music industry?
Jon: I’m hesitant to give advice because you’re only ever really calling on your own experience…but…to then ignore my own thing and now give some advice <chuckles> I think I’d say you should only be doing it because you love doing it and then keep it enjoyable for you because this’ll probably mean that whatever you produce will be better. People to look at would be Flume, he just sat in his bedroom and said oh I think this would sound really cool and then, pretty much the whole world agreed with him so I think, doing it because you like doing it and doing it for yourself is the best thing. We’ve been around long enough to see bands try and chase trends…whatever trends are happening on the radio and I think people somehow have a radar for whether something is authentic or not and so, I think finding something that is authentic for you and doing that is key. If it succeeds and you make a career out of it then that’s great but if it doesn’t and you still like the sound of it then I think that’s still great for your creativity. Succeeding with something that you don’t like the sound of yourself wouldn’t be a lot of fun.
Ash: Boy & Bear is in the lineup for The Drop festival, have you met a lot of the other bands and what’s the touring experience like?
Jon: Yeah it’s really cool, we’re playing in between BallPark Music and The Presets and we had BallPark Music open for us, like…I don’t know..too many years ago to mention…but it’s cool because they’ve survived and it’s almost like, an attrition thing, seeing how many bands survive because we’ve been going around for about ten years now and there’s not that many left who were new when we started up as well and, they’re great and I watched their set the other night and I knew every single song and I didn’t realise I knew every single song and the crowd knew every song as well. The Presets do an amazing show as well and yeah we’re all interested in mixing with each other backstage and then it’s cool seeing stuff, like Allday – it’s almost like Rap but not quite…with a backing band and singing vocals but then kind of spoken word over it and it’s REALLY cool and for someone like me, I’ve been living through it for three years so I’ve heard what’s been playing on Australian radio and it’s like this is great, it’s nice seeing new things as well as established things mixed together and I think The Drop Festival has doing really well here with this lineup…they’ve included things that have buzz and heat on them now and then they’ve also got things that are well established, that have been around for a while. They’ve also got different genres that are being covered and this means it’s pretty appealing for a lot of people