Boy & Bear: 'We Got Caught Up In That Wanky New Folk Thing'
“I like rain but I’m over it,” says Boy & Bear’s Tim Hart.
“I’m somewhat a nerd that I started fishing this year – I wanted to do something new and all the mindfulness bullshit… it’s gonna make me want to learn, but I can’t fish when it’s raining.”
Hart has had some time on his hands lately, and not just because of the recent Sydney downpours. Boy & Bear have had a quiet start to the year, and it’s given the drummer a chance to get a little more philosophical than normal.
“Don’t you reckon there’s too many musicians who try and sound profound when they’re interviewed?” he asks. “It’s like, ‘Come on mate, you’re not Bob Dylan, there’s gonna be no Nobel Prize for you’ [laughs]. You’re a journalist, you want to write something juicy, but I just feel I’ll be so fake if I’m like that.”
Tabloid gossip or not, Hart is a delight to speak with, and his sense of humour puts a colourful spin on the otherwise greyscale activities of Boy & Bear this year – there’s no big reveal when Hart is asked what they’ve been up to. “Nothing,” he laughs again. “A bit of rehearsal, but we did massive touring off the last record, finished at Christmas and we needed a few months off.
“We’ve got shows coming up – we’ve had two months’ break completely and it makes you hungry again. When you come off of tour after two years, you just wanna see your family, have a beer.”
Indeed, Boy & Bear were out on the road for the majority of 2016 behind their 2015 record Limit Of Love, which garnered further international acclaim among a discography that now spans three albums. The Sydneysiders’ sound is an ever-interesting blend of Fleetwood Mac and Dire Straits, and while Hart says they started out without any expectations of what they would become, he fondly thinks of Boy & Bear as a culmination of the sounds of their youth.
“I guess what you hear is a result of what our mums and dads listened to and what we listened to, folk music and that sort of thing. We got caught up in that wanky new folk thing, and the journey since then has been three albums of trying to find out who you are. That search always leads you back to who you were when you grew up, so there’s a certain nostalgia to that for us, which makes it possible to play 160 shows [a year].”
That “wanky” folk sound may be something Hart wishes Boy & Bear could have avoided, but it served them well. Songs from 2011’s ‘Feeding Line’ through the more recent ‘Walk The Wire’ pulse along with undeniably catchy guitar riffs and sweet vocals. So would Hart suggest their music is something that hasn’t been done before – or are they at least striving to create something completely original?
“I’ve got a flat out answer – no.” His infectious laughter pours down the phone without a hint of irony. “Obviously we wanna be as creative as possible, but I think it’s really quite pretentious to think you’re creating something that hasn’t been done before. Some people do have the ability to do that, but to write a song? Yes, it’s a new creation, it’s unique in that sense, but you’re not reinventing the wheel – it still has melody, still has pop hooks. So to think it’s something massively groundbreaking is just bullshit.”
Hart will temporarily hang up the fishing rod for Boy & Bear’s appearance in a coveted slot at this weekend’s Party In The Park festival. After such an extensive stretch of headline performances, Boy & Bear will only be playing festivals this year – and who can blame them?
“We’ve played lots of festivals,” says Hart. “To be honest, we’re rubbish at festivals, just because we’re not this pumped-up band who swears to get a reaction out of the crowd. We do rely on our songs. As time’s gone on, we’ve learnt how to craft a setlist to dynamically move from high moments to introspective moments, and in that sense, festivals have become really fun and interesting for us, because you’ve got one shot to impress people and festivals are a good opportunity.”
Joining Boy & Bear on this year’s Party In The Park lineup are the likes of The Delta Riggs, Dope Lemon and Nicole Millar, and for all that he’s excited to be playing, Hart readily admits he has no clue who else is joining them. “I have no idea who else is playing – are The Preatures playing?” (They’re not.) “Nah, it’s gonna be great to see other bands, other friends. No one understands the touring lifestyle like another musician – maybe your partner, but that’s the great thing about festivals: there’s a lot psychology going on, a lot of counselling. Musos need that from other musos.”
And when Hart’s not playing a festival stage somewhere in Australia, there’s no surprise about where you’ll find him.
“Have you ever seen River Monsters? Jeremy Wade, he’s a bit of a tosser, an extreme wrangler – I’ll be watching that then going back to fishing. I hate killing – I’ll be pulling them up and putting them back, but I’ll get that satisfaction in the name of science and biology… which I was rubbish at at school!”