Boy & Bear

Boy & Bear Talk The New Album Recorded "All In One Room And All On One Tape"

Boy & Bear

Rich harmonies, earthy riffs and songs that won’t get out of your head for weeks – these are the trademarks of Australian indie-folk outfit, Boy & Bear. After a crazy 12 month touring stint, the band tucked themselves away for the first half of the year to create their newest album, Limit of Love, and are you guys in for a treat! It’s more raw and organic than a vegan cake and it’s everything you love about these boys plus more.

Limit of Love is out on 9th October and Boy & Bear will be touring around the country early next year. We chatted to bassist Dave Symes about the bands whirlwind last couple of years, what makes the album unique and the really weird film clip they recently dropped.

Hey Dave, how are you going?

Good thanks, whereabouts are you calling from?

I’m in Sydney, Whereabouts in the world are you?

I’m the same as you. We could have done this over coffee!

We could have! Maybe we can postpone this and go for coffee. [LAUGHS] How has it been being home?

It’s been great. I’m sure you know that we were away a lot touring for the last record and we’ve been home a lot this year which has been great. We were home at the beginning of the year when we started writing for the new record and we took off to record it overseas. We’ve been back for a few months getting ready to put it out. It’s been nice.

I saw that you guys actually played 170 shows between November 2013 and December 2014. That’s crazy!

It was a big year! It was pretty amazing. I think we did three European/UK tours, 3 US/Canadian tours and 3 Australian tours, so that’s why we clocked up so many shows. It was an amazing experience- we are really lucky to have had those opportunities.

I’m sure there’s many but what’s one of the most memorable or funniest things that has happened to you guys while on tour?

I find that a very hard question – for some reason when someone says “tell me something funny,” I kind of go … “ohh, I can’t remember anything” There’s so many things. I think that doing that many shows and travelling that much, it all becomes a bit of a blur and there’s always funny things happening. We got to play some pretty amazing shows- like, some of the venues we got to play in were amazing. When you’re playing over in America and Europe, there’s so much musical history in those places and you end up sometimes playing in places that are semi-famous because of bands before you that have played or there’s pictures on the wall of some of your heroes.

One of the places that stood out for me was an outdoor theatre that was called Red Rocks in Colorado. It’s like a 10,000 seat amphitheatre. There’s been famous records recorded there. It was pretty special.

You guys played at the Sydney Opera House last time you were touring Australia which would have been amazing.

Yeah it was equally amazing, but for a different reason. You’re at home, it’s such an iconic venue and your friends and family are there. It was pretty special to do two nights there last year. It was a nice way to finish off touring Australia. I’d love to do that again if I ever get the opportunity to. It’s one of those things you look back on and think, “that’s amazing that I did that,” because you never know that’s going to happen when you start out.

So you’re making your way around the world again and then coming back to Australia at the beginning of next year to celebrate your newest album, Limit of Love, which is being released in just over a week. Can you tell me a bit about how the creation of this album sets it apart from the previous?

I think what’s been coming up a bit when you get to the end of making a record and try to work out what it is you just did. We worked with a producer called Ethan John who is an amazing producer, an amazing musician and an amazing engineer. He took us two an equally amazing studio called Real World Studio which is in Box, Wiltshire (England) and is owned by Peter Gabriel. So we were working in a pretty special environment with a lot of musical history, like I mentioned before with those venues, the same kind of thing. The studio is set up with heaps of natural light and it’s on a big property – it’s a really fine place to record.

What Ethan encouraged us to do was to play live and record to 2-inch tape like you would back in 1968. We just recorded that way, all in one room and all on one tape. It sounded like all the instruments were spilling into each. Whatever you put down is the take and he really encouraged us to give the best musical performance and tried to capture the essence of the song rather than, “Oh, did you play the right note?” If it’s a great take, it didn’t really matter. So, I think that was the difference. It meant we made decisions a lot quicker – he was always about making decisions at the time, like choosing the take and moving on; not like when we have recorded in the past, we had a lot of options that we could make a decision on way down the track and you can just say, “Oh, well I’ll decide on that in a month’s time.” The way we did it this time was with deciding then and there and moving on every time, which meant we actually finished things off earlier. It was a really rewarding thing to do. In life, we’re so bombarded with options and decisions and it was nice to actually eliminate that, and that was his encouragement to do it like that.

I guess the relationship with a producer you’re working with is really important. There would have to be a lot of trust and mutual respect of each other’s ideas and opinions. I’ve seen you guys perform live a number of times and what I really like about this album is it captures and encompasses the rawness of seeing a live show. I read that Ethan actually played in a few tracks also.

Yeah, from the first song we started recording, he was listening to us setting up and he was like, “Hey guys, I was just thinking, it’s cool if you don’t want to but I can hear this little keyboard part here” and we were like, “Yeah man, have a play!” I think he played on every song. He’s an amazing drummer, percussionist, guitarist and pianist- he was doing all sorts of different stuff. It was pretty cool.

Well it’s definitely paid off. The raw and organic sound comes through great!

That’s really great to hear. It’s nothing new, you know, it’s not like bands aren’t doing this- but I think, for us, it was nice to be able to do it and hopefully it comes through as though you’re sitting in your lounge room and we’re all set up around you just playing the song. I hope that’s translated on the record. 

How are you feeling about releasing your new work after you’ve had such success with Moonfire and the platinum-selling Harlequin Dream?

I think this period is a slightly nerve-wracking and an anxious time, a week or so before it comes out. You just tend to think, all of a sudden people are interested, they want to form an opinion and they want to talk about it. We live in such a reviewing world at the moment where everything you do, people can score it out of 5. It’s kind of become strange. You buy a coffee and you can rate it. So it’s a nerve-wracking time but I’m looking forward for it to come and moving forward from there because once it’s out it means that people are listening to it and they can form an opinion and like it or not like it. It means that we can start playing live again and start performing these songs at shows in their natural environment and also combining them with the repertoire from the last couple of albums and start to play around with all of that.

I’m not going to lie, it’s a nerve-wracking time, a week before the release. You’ve created something and it’s yours and all of a sudden it’s going to be everybody’s, which is what you want, but you just want people to like it- like anyone, I’m sure, would want people to like what they do. But of course some people don’t, and that’s cool. But I’m confident it’s a good album and I’m also confident that I think it’s going to work great when people see it live.

So I watched the clip for Walk The Wire this morning and I have to say, it’s hilarious. Who do we have to thank for the concept of the clip?

It’s a company called Oh Yeah Wow, they’re a Melbourne based company. They did our clip for one of our singles of the last album called Bridges. We really enjoyed working with them, they were really easy to work with. Music videos are strange, because you’re a musician and you’re not used to being on screen –it’s a different environment. They had a really good vibe and good energy and made us feel really comfortable and we wanted to do something with them again.

They had this crazy idea which we didn’t really understand on paper and it was hard to get our heads around it but they thought that some of our clips had been serious and a lot more narrative based in the past and they wanted to make it a lot more light-hearted and more fun and a little bit chaotic. It was really fun to make. We didn’t know how it would get received and a lot of people are talking about it so it feels like people either think it’s really stupid or people really dig it and think it’s a bit different.

It definitely has the ‘wow factor.’ I feel like it could have evolved into a 10 minute feature film of you guys trying to create the “perfect” film clip with everything just fucking up around you.

[LAUGHS] There were a lot of outtakes that got edited – I think the clip was originally four and a half minutes and the song is only three, so it’d be a bit indulgent to make it into a little short film.

So it’s been a year almost to the day when you last toured around Australia and you’re coming back home early next year with some really Australian talented artists, Art of Sleeping and Montaigne. What’s your opinion of the calibre of music coming out of Australia at the moment and are there any Aussie acts that you can’t get enough of?

It’s a really exciting time for Australian music and I think it’s connecting internationally too. I think a lot of bands are able to make the plunge a little easier than maybe you could’ve 10 years ago. Although, maybe the dollar is about to screw that all up because it’s gotten so low because it’s always such an expense. Art of Sleeping and Montaigne are two great artists and they’ll be opening for us which is exciting because we like both of them. Some other things that have just come out, I really like the Paper Kites’ new record and also Holy Holy’s new album.

So I’m guessing they would be on your road tripping playlist? Who else would we hear if we were in the tour van with Boy and Bear?

I’ve been listening to a lot of the new Kurt Vile album, I think he’s super cool and quite funny. From last year in the tour van, I love The War on Drugs album, the newest Beck album, they were two of the highlights of albums that came out last year. I like Alabama Shakes, I’m a big fan of those guys.

Can I just come on tour with you guys so I can listen to all these tunes in your van?

Yep, totally. Come along, we always take turns in choosing the playlist. Everyone’s always got different things that they like.

What are you not looking forward to the most about hitting the road again? Does anyone have a bad habit that you can shamelessly out them for?

[LAUGHS] There’s a few snorers but I can’t say who they are. I really enjoy touring but the hard thing about touring sometimes is the lack of sleep and the actual travelling parts of it. Sometimes you just have to be at two places at the one time, so you’re spending hours to get there and I think that’s the hard thing of touring. I do really enjoy getting out there and playing and getting to play in different cities around the world is pretty exciting.

Well that’s good, because you guys have been doing a lot of touring – and you’re about to hit the road again! Do you or any of the guys have any secret talents or party tricks that we may not know about?

Well John Hart, our keys player, he’s an amazing photographer. He documents a lot of stuff on the road, for himself but also for us. The cover of the album is actually one of his photos. We had a show in Victoria Island, which is a ferry ride from Vancouver. The picture’s taken off the top of a 40 foot car ferry of the ocean. So that’s quite cool, obviously not many people know that.

I don’t have a party trick- apparently I do really bad actor impersonations that make the boys laugh, but I don’t sound anything like who I’m trying to be.

Well Dave, thanks so much for chatting with me today, it’s been a pleasure. Good luck with your travels and we’ll see you next year!

Thanks for taking the time and we’ll see you around at a gig somewhere!

Catch Boy & Bear at their upcoming Australian shows – TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW:

Fri 22 January | Odeon Theatre | Hobart
Sat 23 January | Festival Hall |Melbourne
Fri 29 January | Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide
Sat 30 January | Red Hill Auditorium | Perth
Fri 12 February | Hordern Pavilion| Sydney
Sat 13 February | Riverstage| Brisbane


Last Dinosaurs On Influences, Live Performances & The Illuminati

It's been a long time in between drinks for Last Dinosaurs. Their well-received debut In A Million Years came out in 2012 and it feels like it took, well, a million years for their sophomore record Wellness to be released. Australian audiences have a tendency to believe that bands have dropped off the face of the earth if they're not touring Australia or releasing records, which is exactly what happened with Last Dinos. As they explained to us, they fit in writing and recording this LP in between touring Asia - still on the earth.

Wellness is a welcome return - one that retains the loveable indie aesthetic of In A Million years and also shows growth. Audiences seem to have fallen back in love with the band too. They have just begun a national Wellness tour in Brisbane with punters flooding through the door. This country has a terrible short terms memory but a great longterm memory and Last Dinos have benefitted from this loyalty.

We spoke to vocalist and guitarist Sean Caskey about what they were doing in between albums, the illuminati and his choice cuts in music right now.

After your tours following the release of In A Million Years you guys kind of fell off the radar, doing a few shows in Manila and South Africa and other places outside Australia. What was going on during this period?
We were doing a lot of travelling and playing shows in various Asian countries. We managed to find time in between to do some writing for this album too. In Japan we had a studio for a couple of weeks and had a few days in a beautiful villa located in the good parts of Bali to just chill out and record ideas and demos.

Wellness has just been released, what was different this time in terms the processes behind the creation and production of this second album? What influence did Scott Horscroft have on the album?
Scott Horscroft had a very different approach to his protege Jean Paul Fung (who we recorded the first album with) in the sense that the songs remained true to their original form and vibe, just a little bit of trimming was needed and the songs were simply recorded very well. Scott is someone I have admired for years, so to the get the chance to work with him and watch him work his magic was awesome and inspiring. It was good working with him because he was very technical, and tended to leave the song writing to the band as much as possible, with just a few suggestions. I think it gave us a greater sense of ownership on this album.

What was your aim musically when you set out to write and create Wellness, and how do you think this album shows your development as a band?
I just was making songs every now and then, trying my best to impress my friends, girlfriend, or myself as much as possible. It all starts around there for me, just make something that is cool that can also make you (and hopefully someone else) feel something. Wellness is a bit more complex than the first album, more mature is the word I would use the most. It has sounds and styles that are closer to the sounds that myself and the rest of the guys enjoy.

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How hard was it to adjust to losing Sam and gaining Michael Sloane, or was it a seamless re-entry for Michael?
Michael and I started writing songs again just for fun and after a while we realised we had something good going on. I always knew he had a great voice, much better than mine. Then Sam left and the obvious fill-in was Michael. Just meant that he had to quit his job and throw his life out the window. Sorry Michael.

You guys will be touring in celebration of the release of Wellness; what are you hoping to achieve on this tour after presumably shedding a bit of rust on the Evie tour earlier this year?
As always, the goal is just to play the best we can and put on the most entertaining show we can. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a venue full of happy faces screaming and dancing. Despite our music having rather melancholic/borderline depressive undertones, we like to put on an energetic and happy show.

What do you think are the main things that have changed about your live gigs from when you were supporting Foals in 2011, to now?
You learn a lot over the years about how to perform to all different types of crowds and I know I'll never stop learning. It’s hard for me to explain it but you just develop a slightly better sense or intuition for larger groups of people. You learn little subtleties about how you are supposed to conduct yourself to show people that you love what you do, and you mean what you say.

Wellness came out the same week as Foals’ latest record What Went Down, a strange coincidence?
It wasn’t our decision, we do whatever the illuminati tells us.


Lastly, what/who are you listening to at the moment, who do you think is killing it on the Aussie or even international music scene at the moment?

Lots of stuff always but last month I got the vinyl for Sour Soul (Instrumentals), so it is just Badbadnotgood basically. I love it. So David Axelrod. I reckon The Jensens are killing it. They are our friends but I’ve been watching them grow over the last few months and they can play, and put on a good show too. They are so young, they will be something special soon.

Last Dinosaurs kick off their local tour in Melbourne this Thursday 1st October. See below for details:
Thursday 1st Oct | Corner Hotel, Richmond VIC | Tickets
Friday 2nd Oct | The Gov, Hindmarsh SA | Tickets
Friday 9th Oct | Enmore Theatre, Sydney NSW | Tickets
Saturday 10th Oct | Anu Bar, Canberra ACT | Tickets
Saturday 17th Oct | Rosemount Hotel, Perth WA | Tickets
Sunday 18th Oct | Jimmy's Den, Perth WA | Tickets


Empress Of: Being Me

Lorely Rodriguez AKA Empress Of wrote a deeply personal debut, recorded it by herself and titled it 'Me' yet all of it's relatable to you.