When interviewing a band it’s always a good idea to try and get them on your side from the start. It’s simple really: get them to like you and they will be more willing to chat. With this in mind it was perhaps a mistake to begin the interview with Tim and Killian from Australian band Boy & Bear by asking what they thought of England hammering them in the recently finished second test match of the Ashes….
Boy & Bear have been over in the UK for a month, giving up the Australian summer for our extensive snow and minus temperatures. Despite the weather Tim reckons that ‘we’re looking forward to getting back to Australia, but I think once we get there we’ll wish we were touring over here again!’ Tonight’s show at The Luminaire represents the end of the UK & Ireland tour for Boy & Bear. So what’s been their favourite gig? ‘They’ve all been really cool…but I think it’s Bristol for me’ Killian states, with Tim adding ‘yeah, it was at the Louisiana which is a really iconic room and it was a great gig. It’s a really artistic city and we got a great turn out. That doesn’t discount the rest of our shows though!’
Debut EP ‘With Emperor Antarctica’ is a fantastic five track release available in the UK on vinyl and from iTunes. Kellian states that ‘We released the EP back in Australia in May, and we’ve been delighted with the response. It hasn’t been released on CD over here in order to keep it limited’. Despite the restricted availability of the EP, Boy & Bear’s UK and Ireland tour has been a huge success. Tim explains, ‘These gigs have been phenomenal. We’re not quite sure how people know about us but everyone has been so kind. We’ve had Andrew Davie on tour with us who is a great singer songwriter and he’s been amazing. It’s been a dream come true!’
Still relatively youthful in band years, Boy & Bear only formed in 2009. The quintet went to university with each other, but all had their own bands. After several months of supporting each other’s bands and sharing the same stage Boy & Bear were born. Many articles and biographies of Boy & Bear state that this history has created a band of five front men, but Tim was quick to dispel that myth ‘It’s funny, that has really got out of proportion! There’s actually three front men: Killian, myself and Dave, but every new article seems to add another front man so that now all five of us are. It’s not true!’
With three ’front men’ in the band, it could be easy for arguments and disagreement to rise. Tim, however, feels that is not the case ‘It works really well, songwriting wise everyone is involved. We all come from slightly different musical backgrounds but there’s a nice equilibrium with the way we write. There’s a real respect for each other’s opinions but there is also a real honesty which allows us to get the best possible result.’ Despite the toe tapping melodies the songs on ‘With Emperor Antarctica’ have a dark undertone to them, such as Blood to Gold with the lyrics ‘And if this blood don’t turn to gold / I think I’m doomed’. Tim explains ‘Yeah, the lyrics are written by Dave. Some of the songs are quite dark and there’s a real theme throughout the EP, but there’s also a lighter tinge to it too. It almost balances itself out!’
Being an Australian band trying to make it in the UK is not easy. This is Boy & Bear’s second trip to our shores in 2010 and, having all quit their ‘proper’ jobs back home a year ago, it shows a real belief in what they do. ‘It takes a little bit of ambition and a little bit of creativity because you know that if you don’t have a go then it will always be in the back of your mind, but you know that if you do have a go you could easily fall on your arse. We push at it a little bit each day and just hope that this can be sustainable.’ So far, so good for the band. Their show at The Luminaire is absolutely rammed a
nd members of the crowd include Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling and Zane Lowe. Not bad, eh?
Perhaps inevitably, Boy & Bear have been compared to bands such as Fleet Foxes and Mumford and Sons due to their crisp vocals. Tim is philosophical about the comparisons ‘Anytime you have a new act, journalists like to compare you to someone else so they can get across what you sound like. We feel very humbled to be compared to those bands. We might not always see where those comparisons come from whereas other times it’s quite obvious. The more established we become the more that sort of thing will come away. The artists that we draw influences from such as Neil Young, Paul Simon and Bob Dylan are the same artists that Mumfords’ and Fleet Foxes draw from.’ Killian adds ‘You hear about these comparisons a lot but at the end of the day we’re just writing songs that we enjoy and that we love. Songs that will continue to develop and evolve into different genres depending on where we are at during the time we’re writing.’ So how would they describe themselves? Killian is quick to answer, stating that ‘Well, I wouldn’t classify us as a folk band. I think the way we’re moving has elements of folk, rock, indie.. we just write songs we’re passionate about’
Throughout the interview it is clear to see that Boy & Bear love what they do. The band have a refreshing approach to music as they simply enjoy writing and playing music. Not once do they mention money, and Tim states that they just want to be ‘sustainable’.
When asked about the debut album, Killian excitedly explains ‘We’re working on recording a full length. We’ll be in the studio in February and the songs are definitely different. They’ve got wider influences and I think it will be different from the EP.’ Tim adds, ‘Absolutely. We want our sound to evolve but to keep signifiers through all of our songs so that people know it’s us’. So, with the debut album due out early summer 2011 we can expect a slight change in direction from ‘With Emperor Antarctica’. Will this mean we can expect to see them back in the UK for the festival season? ‘Hopefully, yes! I should think so. Our love at the moment is for the UK and Australia, so that’s where we want to play our gigs as we’ve been well received here.’ If tonight’s exceptional performance and buzzing crowd reaction is anything to go by, then this love affair is just getting started.