Boy and Bear have had a massive year, with the release of their self-titled fifth album earlier this year, a capital city tour and upcoming regional tour, and the tenth anniversary of their hit album Harlequin Dream around the corner. On top of that, they’ve also just announced The Lost Dreams EP– three previously unreleased tracks from their Harlequin Dream era which was released today to celebrate the album’s anniversary. I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Dave and Killian for a lovely chat, and without further adieu, here it is.
You’ve just announced the Lost Dreams EP- three previously unreleased tracks from Harlequin Dream. You’ve mentioned that these tracks were ‘lost’- were they actually lost and if so, how did you find them?
Dave: “They were sort of semi-lost, weren’t they?”
Killian: “They were. We had a version of a song, like an MP3, which is pretty much just some low quality files, so we couldn’t actually find the sessions and we couldn’t find the mastered files that were finished. The MP3’s sort of just sat in the dropbox and we started thinking about it- we saw those songs and were like “What ever happened to these?”… When we made the record, a guy called Phil Ek mixed the album, he’s based out of Seattle, so we got in contact with Phil and said, “do you have the files? ‘cause we’re thinking about releasing them.” And he was like “You idiot, why do you guys not have the files?”… He couldn’t find them, so he put us in touch with the people who mastered the album, and they ended up finding them on some shelf in a warehouse on a hard drive and they ended up sending them through to us.”
You’ve also just recently released your fifth album, which is self-titled. What was the significance behind making this album self-titled, if any?
Dave: “I think there’s probably two trains of thought. It was our first independent release and it felt nice to start afresh on that front. And the other less romantic side of it was that we couldn’t decide on a title. There was lots of different opinions flying around and we had a few names that we were thinking about, and then after a bunch of different discussions we just decided to do a self-titled this time around.”
On your most recent tour you guys asked your fans for setlist requests from your entire discography. Were there any tracks that you really enjoyed playing that you otherwise wouldn’t have played, and were there any that you really disliked playing?
Killian: “A part of us all loved the idea of it and a small part of us regretted the idea of us putting it out to everybody, because a lot of people came back with, like, obscure songs- some of which we hadn’t played since that particular record came out so some were like ten or twelve years old. So a lot of effort went into remembering how to play some of them. It was actually kind of fun.“Back Down The Black” which we haven’t played in so long actually has become my favourite song to play. We just did a capital city tour and we played that song based on a lot of people requesting it, and I assume we’ll play it on the regional run, but that song for me has been like- I don’t know what it is, it was a song that I wasn’t all too fond of for some reason and now I’m just obsessed with it, which is probably weird to say about your own music. But I don’t know why that is, maybe it just took me nearly fifteen years to figure out I liked the song.”
Dave: “It’s really easy to want to discard old songs, because you’re always excited about new songs sounding all fresh, but it’s kind of nice sometimes diving into old stuff. It’s like “huh, we knew what we were doing ten years ago, this song holds up”.
Is it hard to get back into the headspace when you’re performing older stuff- do you ever want to critique or make changes to your old stuff?
Killian: “I think that always happens, whether we’re playing live or not. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old song or a new song, once we’ve made a record we’re critiquing it about three months after it comes out and think about things we wish we would have done… But I think there’s probably a little bit of, like Dave said, a bit of appreciation for the approaches we had to songwriting. It’s not that we’ve moved on, we’ve just followed our journey somewhere else and there’s interesting approaches that we’re not using the same way we used to, and it’s been cool to look back to.”
Dave: “And there’s songs like, “Big Man” which was on Moonfire. It was quite a big arrangement originally but we’ve stripped that back so it’s just electric guitar and vocals for ninety percent of the song. I think we just decided to let the story come out a little bit more. That’s an example of one we completely reinvented, and the rest of the stuff you kind of tweak when you need to but for the most part we’ve kept the same arrangements.”
Killian: “It’s also nice to figure out what you played and maybe only play seventy or eighty percent of that this time around and change your parts around depending on what you’re feeling today… you could almost describe it as doing a cover of your own song.”
Going back to the Lost Dreams EP- are you planning on adding that to the setlist for the regional tour?
Killian: “Probably not, I reckon.”
Dave: “It depends on the response too.”
Killian: “The whole EP won’t be out by the time we start the tour, so maybe one day it’ll make sense when everyone is familiar with them, but not right now.”
You’ve had a massive year, do you guys have anything else lined up for the rest of 2023?
Dave: “Just writing. We’re already writing for the next record, and I think we all really love that process. It’s my favourite part of all this, writing a stockpile of music that we can cherry-pick when the timing is right- next year. It’ll be great to be in the studio by the end of next year, that’s the goal.”
Do you have one particular place you like to record in?
Killian: “We like to change our process every time. We are pretty inconsistent for all the right reasons where we like to just test something new or try something different rather than repeating the same process and getting a result too similar to what you just did. Sometimes the pendulum swings, you do an album a certain way and you’re like, “Cool, that’s done, let’s go and do it this way now”, and it keeps swinging. You’re always moving in some sort of direction, it’s always changing. We’ve done a lot of albums in Australia, we’ve done a lot overseas. I can see us working in Australia again. We produced the last album ourselves and we recorded it locally in Marrickville. There’s a buzz and excitement in the camp to look at working with a producer again moving forward to get a different result to continue learning and continue pushing ourselves. Nothing is decided but I can imagine it will be different.”
Your self-titled album was the first album you guys self-produced, can you talk a bit about that process?
Dave: “Yeah, it was. We have always done co-produced albums, we have always had our hands on production and arrangements. When we get it right, a producer comes in as a sort of sixth member to help the diplomatic process of ideas and challenge us in different forms the songs could take. I think that’s worked well in the past. We were ready to self produce this record, that made sense. But now that we have done that, the idea of working with a really experienced producer excites me. We’ll hopefully do another co-produce and go from there.”
The Lost Dreams EP is out now, available to stream wherever you listen. You can catch Boy & Bear on their upcoming regional tour, which kicked off on September 13th, for more info and tickets click HERE.