It was looking good for Boy & Bear in 2020 with a tour locked in to celebrate the release of their fourth album Suck On Light. The world changed with a global pandemic and their tour was put on ice. Fortunately, Boy & Bear have been announced as part of the SummerSalt festival line up that also includes Cat Empire, Missy Higgins, Montaigne, Emily Wurramara and now John Butler. Hi Fi Way spoke to lead singer Dave Hosking about SummerSalt and the new music they have been working on which will hopefully see a release this year.
How has the band been navigating its way through the chaos?
It has been a ride in 2020. So many unknowns, uncertainty, changes, and readjustments. It has been a big learning curve for everybody, I think.
Has that been the frustrating thing have a great album such as Suck On Light and not be able to tour it because the pandemic started to blow up just when the tour was meant to start?
Oh thanks man. To get shutdown before you even start doing anything feels like the album didn’t get a chance to have its glory if you know what I mean? We played some shows in Sydney which was amazing and those were in a COVID safe format. It was actually great to play again and it was great to get to play some tracks off that record that we hadn’t been able to play at all yet so far. That was pretty exciting.
Did you learn a lot about yourself last year in terms of managing the frustration and your own personal resilience?
Yeah, I definitely learnt a lot, I think we learnt a lot as a band, as comrades, as brothers and then individually we’ve all had to learn a lot. We have had some big changes last year to try to react to and how to survive through the shutdown, as an industry, and how it just affected us immediately. Because of where we were at in terms of our cycle, we were about to start again, start touring off a new record so we had a two-year plan ahead of us. So obviously a lot of that has been reworked. Well cancelled to start with and now reworked for this year. With these SummerSalt shows it will be the first proper things back. We have played a couple of shows in Sydney as I said but that was all hanging onto dear life, depending on what was going to happen with restrictions and things like that.
Is it as simple as picking up the plan and move it forward a couple of years?
I think in the beginning what everybody did when this happened was okay, let’s just postpone for a few months. Just reset, but it became pretty clear, as I watched this happening around the world too, with other friends and colleagues but also other bands that I look up to or the way it’s happened to them is exactly the same. It ended up being not as simple as that, and then there was no certainty of when you could re-schedule for. Plans overall have probably been scratched because it’s too far between to just do the same thing. Re-booking tours, we’re still waiting on the certainty of what’s allowed. Then you have got the issue with traffic. All the people who would be ready to go out on tour that had been postponed. A lot of tours wanting to play the same venues and scheduling at similar times It’s going to be a hell of a year I reckon. If COVID gets better and we’re all back out there I think there’s going to be a lot of things competing for the same Friday night.
Was there ever any thought of going back to a nine to five job, and be an accountant or something like that?
You’ve got to have certain skills to be able to do that don’t you? I know I don’t. I guess you question everything at some point, because you do have immediate thoughts of survival and financial security. So yeah, there are thoughts of what else can you do. Unfortunately for me, I’m good at helping people, but I don’t have any other skill sets. I’ve been doing music a long time and I live and breathe it. As a band though, we’ve spent the time writing a lot of new music. Our morale’s been really high, we’ve really stuck together and we’ve helped each other out. We set up a temporary space and we’ve been doing that nine to five. This has been a good use of the time for us. When we start touring again, we are going to record alongside and push towards having new music to release sooner than later. We are excited and I think that it was a good thing that we were able to do. It hasn’t been a creative time for everybody, but I know a lot of people have found creative space through all of this by having a bit of quiet time.
Are you feeling optimistic about the year ahead?
It is good being a band in that rather than a solo artist. We’ve been able to bounce off each other, bounce off each other’s energy. If someone’s having a down week then someone else can jump up and lead the ship a little bit. I think that’s something about our band, it’s happened a lot recently where we have had a few things to deal with and we’ve really stuck together as a band of brothers. We really do help each other through that and that’s partly why our morale has stayed really high. We’re actually more pumped than ever about the new music we’re writing. I think as an artist that’s what you always try to strive to do. Make a better record each time, or keep developing.
Do you think there will be a bit of a sneak preview of the new songs on the SummerSalt tour?
I don’t know, because as I said before we didn’t really get to play the Suck on Light stuff so for us it’s new territory to be able to play a bunch of that. We’ll definitely be able to pull out some of those songs off that record.
Will the new songs be much different from what we have heard before?
I think it’s a continuation of Suck on Light I reckon at this stage. It’s almost like where we left off. It feels like we’ve picked up the reigns and we are developing some of the things we explored on that record a bit deeper, a bit further. That is what it’s feeling like at the moment to be honest, which is feeling like our happy spot creatively and musically. It really does feel like that, it feels like if we were going to start making a record again now, we would definitely be employing some of the same techniques on that record and developing a few things that we might have liked to have done more on that record. Every album you do is a new experience and we have the maturity to do it again now.
It must be great to be able to head back to Adelaide and to play SummerSalt down at Glenelg?
Oh man, what a location too hey? It’s such a nice spot there. It’s going to be great. I haven’t been down to Glenelg for a long time actually but it definitely will be great. It is a really cool line up with Cat Empire, Missy Higgins, Montaigne and Emily Wurramara.
Do you get much of a chance to have a watch or a listen to the other bands on the bill?
I love it, personally a festival for me, especially one like this where it’s one stage and a smaller line up. For me it’s a real opportunity to see other bands because when you’re touring it’s just yourself and the supports so you don’t get the variety to go and watch other stuff so I find festival gigs for me are fantastic. I like to go early and stay to the end and really just be a music fan.
Do you have any favourite spots down at Glenelg or in town that you like to go when you’re here?
I’m a Central Market fan whenever I’m in Adelaide. There’s a certain Taiwanese dumpling place I always go to. I can’t remember the name but the prawn gow gee there is absolutely insane. I reckon I’ve done that probably every time I’ve been to Adelaide.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Boy & Bear play SummerSalt on February 14 at Glenelg Beach with John Butler, Missy Higgins, The Cat Empire, Montaigne and Emily Wurramara. Tickets from SummerSalt…