Editors’ Notes After Sydney folk-rock band Boy & Bear released their third album, Limit of Love, singer-songwriter Dave Hosking was diagnosed with chronic dysbiosis, a gastrointestinal bacteria so severe that he had to put his life, including his band, on pause for several years. When he finally found himself able to return his attention to music, his experiences laid the foundations for Suck on Light. “It was my life for so long that everything else got knocked out of the way,” he tells Apple Music. “It was the only thing I could write about. So the challenge was how to write about the same thing 11 or 12 times.” The phrase itself felt like “a nice way of describing what was going on in my mind,” he says. “There were a lot of moments of feeling horrendous and being stuck in my room for months on end. I had to really draw as much hope and light out of the situation as possible.” Below, Hosking talks more about each song on the band’s fourth album.
Work of Art “Any time I ever felt any kind of improvement, it was like my senses would come to life again. I remember walking out the front of my place in Annandale [a suburb of Sydney] at the time, and for the first time starting to feel, hear the birds, smell the season, and start to feel a bit alive. They were moments to celebrate. In some ways it's an homage to Mother Nature.”
Suck on Light “I’d had this track kicking around for a little while, but I could never really piece the whole thing together. Then I was working on some verse lyrics, and that line—‘suck on light’—just fell out. It represents the whole story really well. I think this song is about hope. It feels uplifting. It came at a turning point where my feelings were changing in a positive way.”
Bird of Paradise “We were touring in the States and I went for a walk. I was feeling out of it. I stumbled across this really strange little path along the river—I wish I could remember the city. It was this little oasis. It reminded me of my past life, of going on holiday and all the things I felt like I hadn't done for a long time. It was like an out-of-body experience. [Bassist Dave] Symes had written this really melodic line during a sound check, and we started working on the demo that day, so those two ideas were squashed together.”
Telescope “We came up with this classic groove with the two-step rhythm. It suited the song, which is all about some of the profound lessons that come from challenge, and some of the things we can take away from adversity.”
Dry Eyes “We did some fun things in the studio where we’d record [parts of the song] in different keys and speed up or slow down the tape, so that’s why there are some really unusual guitar tones, and unusual vocal tones. To me it feels a bit like a nightmare. Conceptually, it’s one of the darker songs on the record.”
Long Long Way “When I was at my worst, one of the things I felt at all times was that I was disconnected and isolated. Even in the presence of people. I think that's what this song is about. The kind of loneliness among people is so different to loneliness on your own.”
Off My Head “This sets the tone for the back half and gives it a little hope after two dark songs. When I was starting to deteriorate but I wasn’t sure what was going on, I was a bit unhinged. I was doing stupid things, self-medicating, partying too hard. This is just a lighter take on that experience.”
Bad People “I'm interested in the idea of how it’s so easy to label people as good or bad, as opposed to realizing that context is such a big driver and those labels are an oversimplification. If more people saw bad people as just troubled, we could come up with more interesting solutions.”
Hold Your Nerve “Love songs are hard to write. I don't think I've ever written one before this. I'd been away from my partner for a long time. And the narrative of that first meeting again, then getting really sick, then it all going pear-shaped, and then getting back together five years later seemed like something worth celebrating.”
Rocking Horse “This song really touches on that idea of being kind to yourself. I think there's a real power in making room for mistakes. It's another big driver of a lot of problems: People don't like themselves, they do s**t things sometimes. No one ever really tells you about learning to be gentle with yourself.”
Bcs “All of us have a sort of darkness in us. We have the potential to make the wrong choices. In those worse moments, I was angry, I was bitter, I lost a lot of empathy and all those really important emotions that remind us we're human. It can be quite confronting, but it’s within all of us. These are some observations about those moments of uncertainty and darkness, and what living in that space does to us.”
Vesuvius “It’s about being able to find an escape within our own mind. It’s a celebration of escapism, of finding a refuge within. It’s really interesting to look at how powerful our brains are, and what we can do.”
Work of Art
Suck on Light
Bird of Paradise
Long Long Way
Off My Head
Hold Your Nerve
12 Songs, 47 Minutes
September 27, 2019
℗ 2019 Boy & Bear Pty Ltd. under exclusive license to Nettwerk Music Group Inc.
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