the AU interview: Dave Hosking of Boy & Bear (Sydney)


James Hull & Amanda Picman took a few minutes out of Dave Hosking‘s life to talk about Boy & Bear and the fast approaching Come Together Festival at Luna Park – and plenty of other tidbits about their new life on the road… Enjoy.

Amanda: This is Amanda and James from the AU Review. How are you going today?

Dave: Pretty good actually. Having a pretty relaxed afternoon.

Amanda: What have you been up to?

Dave: We played in Ballarat last night with Lisa Mitchell which was pretty good.

Amanda: Oh wow! So you’ve had a busy morning?

Dave: It actually hasn’t been too bad. We had a bit of a slow morning and had a bit of breakfast in there and just drove our way into Melbourne earlier this afternoon.

James: So you missed all this shit weather we’ve been having in Sydney?

Dave: Yeah, I actually heard all about it. I’ve had a few mates whinging, telling me it was pretty rubbish.

Amanda: It was basically like flood material yesterday.

Dave: Really, (laughs) we’ve avoided it. It’s pretty clear skies today in Melbourne. Sorry to tell you that.

Amanda: So lucky! So let’s get started.

James: Bit of question time!

Dave: Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s do it.

James: Well congratulations on the success of your EP With Emperor Antarctica. It’s taken off pretty well.

Dave: Thanks man, thank you.

James: Considering you guys only formed as a band last year, how did you find the recording process?

Dave: Good. The recording process was really good. We’ve done a bit of recording together before and before the EP we really workshopped the tracks really hard, just going into some local studios and demoing all the tracks and adding all the layers. I think in our past project we all had a little bit of experience in the studio.

James: And you guys were all in different bands to start with. Why did you guys decide to come together as just the one group?

Dave: Yeah. I don’t know… it sort of happened fairly organically, I think. Jake (Tarasenko) and I had been playing together for a little while on a solo project and then early last year, Killian (Gavin) and Tim (Hart ) came on board and then once that happened, the whole dynamic changed. I mean they were doing their side projects as well, helping me out, and then getting all those guys involved the project it was no longer a solo set up and it didn’t feel like that, it felt like a band and so we re-named the project and broke a few walls down and let everyone creatively do their thing. And then John (Hart) came on board earlier this year.

Amanda: And speaking of the new re-naming. What’s the deal with Boy & Bear? How did that come about?

Dave: How did the name come about?

Amanda: Yeah. Like how did the name come about? What’s a boy got to do with a bear?

Dave: (Laughing) It’s not the prettiest of stories. Popped in into a band name generator on the internet. We had to decide on a band name and like it’s a bit of a lose, lose, I dunno, it’s just really difficult to do. I found this band name generator on the internet and I spent like two weeks typing in all these things.

Amanda: How does that process work? Do you just put in different words and it sort of just comes up with stuff?

Dave: Yeah. So you just put in a word and it will just figure out all these really ridiculous ideas.

Amanda: Sounds awesome.

Dave: It was the funnest two weeks of my life and it was all I did. And we had a shortlist of like 20 or 25.

Amanda: So did you draw out of a hat or something?

Dave: Well these days you’ve got to do the google test. You go to google and heaps of bands are already there and nine times out of ten it is.

Amanda: I was thinking you had some wild story where you were camping… and there was a bear involved.

Dave: Maybe a Koala or something interesting, but it comes down the laziness of modern technology, that’s all it is. That was it, unfortunately.

James: OK, well I absolutely love the sound and we have a bit of an interesting question for you. If the sound of Boy & Bear were a food, what would it be or what would it taste like?

Dave: Can I ask that to the group? I’m actually sitting in a hotel room, can I ask that collectively?

James: Absolutely.

Dave: Guys, if Boy & Bear was a specific food, or like a flavour, or like a dish. Like is it sweet, is it savoury, talk to me guys. It’s spicy. It’s contradictory, contradictory, WOW!

Amanda: (Laughing) What does contradiction taste like?

Dave: Ok, it’s got chilly in it and I think it’s savoury and I think we’re getting something slightly oriental.

Background discussions….

Dave: Now they’re just throwing anything at me, we’re not getting very far at all… What if…Chicken? Chicken’s too mainstream.

Amanda: Spicy chicken?

Dave: (Laughing) Spicy Chicken… sounds like KFC.

James: Good old Southern Fried.

Dave: Ok, final answer… Hoi Sin Duck.

Amanda: Oh, ok. Yummy!

Dave: Yep (laughs).

James: Ok… let’s get a little bit deeper. We’re always interested in lyrics. Just wondering how you guys get your words together… you know, personal experiences, books, fantasies. What brings the words out?

Dave: Yeah, absolutely. I guess we do a lot of the demos where I write a certain percentage of the lyrics and then all the space in between we demo with jargon so there are syllables in there and there are words in there, but they sort of don’t come til a little bit later. I read a lot Yates for inspiration. I dunno, I like being ambiguous. Maybe because I’m not very good at being specific with the way I’m feeling or the way I’m thinking so I like just using words artistically and creating a feel to make a story.

Amanda: SO what sort of themes do you have running in the Rabbit Song, in terms of ambiguity and that sort of thing, obviously you’re not talking about rabbits.

Dave: Yeah, no, no… I think Rabbit Song is more about um… I think it’s a bit of a rebellious song. I’ve always hated that whole concept of having to join the rat race. I hated the idea of having to go to work and joining the rat race and doing all that and I think Rabbit Song is a bit of a challenge to what we have to do when we all grow up unfortunately.

Amanda: Cool, that’s awesome.

Dave: (Laughing) Thank you.

James: Ok, so we’re going to get onto the Come Together festival topic. You’re from Sydney… have you ever been any other events at Luna Park before?

Dave: I think I’ve been there socially once. Wait, we did a gig there a long time ago. Not under the Big Top, but there’s another one right down the bottom. Sonar. I think that’s it, actually. SO yeah, it’ll be a bit of a new experience for us.

Amanda: So the line up is pretty impressive. Grinspoon, British India, Bertie Blackman, Frenzel Romb … is there anyone in particular you’re keen to see, that you guys want to see?

Dave: Aahhh, yeah, I’m a bit caught out ’cause I haven’t had a chance to ah… Killian is yelling at me, the Jezabels, He’s a big Jezabels fan. And I really like Ernest Ellis as well.

Amanda: What can the people expect from your set at Luna Park? Some nice sort of mellow backdrops or something?

Dave: Oh some backdrops, that would be really cool. I have a feeling we probably won’t have any backdrops ready by then. We literally have Lisa’s tour and Come Together sort of fits really well in the headline tour. We’re going to have four days off so we’re going to tip the live set on its head and do something interesting, so I have no idea at this point what it’s going be. I think people can expect harmonies and hopefully something drivey and occasionally something sinister.

James: Have you ever done an all ages gig before?

Dave: Ah, yeah, we did our first the other night with Lisa Mitchell at the Enmore.

James: Did anything change for you. Did you have to tone things down or do you just keep things as it is.

Dave: They’re really noisy. It’s amazing. You sort of feel like you can’t put a foot wrong at some of these underage gigs.

James: A pretty receptive crowd?

Dave: Yeah, absolutely. (Laughs) Sometimes over receptive so it’s just so noisy. But that’s pretty cool, you can work it in your favour.

James: You’re songs are quite layered and subtly complex. Can we expect any sort of surprises with the sound when you get under the Big Top?

Dave: Hopefully, yeah. We love putting layers on all the tracks we do and I think for us that is the most time consuming part of production in regards to… you know, between the harmonies and all the different instruments. We area five piece so sometimes we’re a little bit limited. I know John, our keyboard player, he’s definitely doing laps between the keys, the mandolin and the banjo and times, between songs. We haven’t actually organised a lighting show or anything at the moment. Literally we do our first headline run in June which is the first time we’ll consider all that. But hopefully we’ll have something to show.

Amanda: So I understand there are unlimited free rides for you guys.

Dave: Are you serious?

James: I think it’s free rides for everybody going…

Dave: Is it really? Wow…

Amanda: (Laughing) Probably…

James: Don’t quote me on that…

Dave: Wow! Is it like an alcohol free zone ‘cause it’s all ages?

Amanda: Sneak some in, you’ll be right.

James: A little hip flask would work.

Dave: Sneak a few beers and go on the roller coasters. That should be interesting.

Amanda: So are there any that you’re looking forward to. The Graviton is pretty interesting.

Dave: What’s the Graviton?

Amanda: it’s kind of like this cylinder and you stand in it, then it spins around and then the centrifugal forces sort of pushes you to the outside and then the floor moves away.

Dave: Oh, then you slip on the wall?

Amanda: And then you kind of move around. Yeah, it’s a weird feeling.

Dave: THAT! (Laughs) It sounds like a nightmare I reckon. (Laughing) Maybe no beers before that one. That sounds cool though, I might have to check it out.

Amanda: And lastly, if you could choose anyone or any band to do a cover of one of your songs, who would it be?

Dave: For me, I’d say José González.

Amanda: Oh he’s beautiful isn’t he?

Dave: He’s just incredible at everything he does, he’s amazing. So yeah, if he did one of our tracks that’d be pretty cool.

James: Alright, we’ll get onto him about that.

Dave: Awesome. (Laughing) Just give him a bell, and tell him I said hi.

Amanda: I will be seeing you at the Annandale on the 12th (June). I’ve been doing a shout out to some friends to come along and support you guys ‘cause you’re awesome.

Dave: Awesome, oh thanks so much.

James: She’ll be the one with her bra off at the front.

Dave: That’s awesome. We haven’t actually played at the Annandale before.

Amanda: It’s a pretty cool venue. You’ve been there before though?

Dave: Yeah, I have been there before. We actually played there a long, long time ago, sorry, I’m getting corrected. It was just this really weird gig. It’s got this really massive system.

Amanda: Yeah, it’s a musical institution that one.

Dave: It is, it is… heritage.

Amanda: Thanks so much for talking with us.

Dave: No worries guys, you have a good afternoon. Catch ya.

Header Photo by Max Knight from the band’s Myspace Page.