Boy & Bear

Boy & Bear

“This album does feel like a little bit of a rebirth for us,” Boy & Bear guitarist Killian Gavin tells Apple Music. “Because there were a lot of issues leading up to the start of this record, COVID being one of the main ones.” A change in management and a record label switch, with the band going independent for the first time in their career, played a part too. “There were also some big shifts in the team that we work with,” he adds. “It was really intense and difficult to navigate; difficult to find a way to write the album for a period there. I think between putting this record together and producing it for the first time entirely—not just co-producing it—and the changes in the team we had, there’s a lot of new things. It’s definitely given us a sense of excitement. It’s encouraged us about the future.” Initial writing sessions took place in isolation due to COVID lockdowns, each member fleshing out their ideas separately with the aid of drum loops and electronic elements. The end result, says vocalist/guitarist Dave Hosking, sees the quintet “push the boundaries sonically”, moving further away from the folk leanings of 2011 debut Moonfire and embracing the wider instrumentation and experimentation of 2019’s Suck on Light. Here, Gavin and Hosking walk us through their self-titled fifth album, track by track. “Strange World” Dave Hosking: “That song came as COVID hit. We got the news that the tour [in support of Suck on Light] had been cancelled. And we’d had a tough five or six years in terms of some health stuff, it had taken us a while to get back into it. Then the tour got wiped. I was like, ‘What a fucking sad world.’” “State of Flight” DH: “That song is about my love for the creative process. Even though it’s been a little tricky at times for us, I think I’ve always kind of found solace in that. I find so much joy in writing and being creative. I guess it’s a bit of an ode to that.” “Silver Moon” Killian Gavin: “It’s almost like a big brother to ‘Walk the Wire’ from [2015’s Limit of Love], in that the song feels like it just plays itself and it keeps going. It’s kind of fun, but it’s got a bit of depth at the same time.” DH: “The song is about envy, about always looking over the fence for something more as opposed to maybe appreciating what you’ve got.” “Magnus” DH: “‘Magnus’ is about being able to adapt and being able to dig deep and find reserves when you have to. There’s a kind of strength in the chorus, and this sense of determination to adapt to our circumstances and change when we need to.” “Apex” DH: “‘Apex’ is about recognising that, on paper, I’m sort of at this pinnacle of my life. I’m playing in this band, we’re doing really well. I’m in a good relationship. I didn’t want to dwell on this too much, but some health issues that I’ve had are still ongoing. I think it was [about] this acceptance and the strangeness of feeling like the world is right at my fingertips, but I still have this other challenge on the side, and the weird feeling that that can give sometimes.” “Muscle” DH: “Again, with some ongoing [health] challenges, I ended up with some pretty gnarly mental health issues, and I was getting some panic attacks, which were just a bit scary and uncomfortable. There was an impact on my partner, and she was scared because she was sort of in the thick of it. So I think ‘Muscle’ is like a letter to her to go, ‘Hey, I’ve got this. This is gonna be OK.’” “Crossfire” KG: “We called it ‘Nothing to Hide’ for so long. Then coming up to release, it was changed to ‘Crossfire’. We had so many ideas, and so many songs leading up to this record, probably three times more demos than any other album we’ve made before. But it’s a favourite of mine, just because I feel like it’s a journey song. It takes you on this long journey, it slowly unfolds and develops. It’s that nostalgic, happy-sad, melancholy balance on the album that I really like.” “Just to Be Kind” DH: “My partner is good friends with the Lime Cordiale guys, and they’ve got a beautiful farm up in Macksville. They let us go up there for a week. I just set up a few mics and started playing around with stuff. In the context of personal challenges I was like, ‘Can I sustain this?’ I didn’t want to take away future opportunities [from my partner], whether that’s family and what that might look like. It got me down at that point, and the song just kind of poured out of me.” “Tin Man” DH: “We wrote a song called ‘Alchemy’, which is about this guy who’s trying to find the sun, but it didn’t make the cut. We might release it on another record. In terms of the mood, ‘Tin Man’ is almost like [that] character gets swept up and he’s trying to find the sun but he finds this really cold, desolate world, and it being kind of uninspiring and confronting. That was the genesis of the lyrical idea behind it.” “Hostage” DH: “‘Hostage’ is about wanting to be a better partner. I think with some of the challenges I’ve had, I can really be quite determined and dogmatic about wanting to keep moving forward and improve on the health front. I can get very distracted and sometimes neglect the simple things which are important in a relationship. I think that definitely got to me—having that sense of pain kind of put onto someone else. So that’s the core of that song.” “The Wheel” DH: “There’s that lyric, ‘How many times can you push on the mind/Before the mind pushes you?’ I sound like a broken record, but going back to some of the mental health challenges, I’ve definitely been pushed over the years. That’s led to some conflicting ideas. I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom, though. I think there is a sense of hope to it. The record does kind of weave its way through ideas of pain and distress and perseverance, [but] dig deep enough and there is optimism. There is always optimism.”

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