The five band members: Dave, Tim, Killian, Jake & Jon have had a whirlwind three years since the inception of Boy & Bear, and picking up 5 five ARIAs last year has not deterred them from giving their regional fans the chance to see them live. FOCUS chats to Tim, lead singer and guitarist, about the journey to stardom …
It’s been a whirlwind three years for you guys, hey …
Yeah, yeah it has been – it’s been pretty wild!
Just for some background info, where does the name Boy & Bear come from?
Well, unfortunately we’ve spent three years explaining it – and it’s not a pretty story! Ha ha … it’s not grubby or anything; it’s just that we really needed a name and … well … we used a band name generator on the internet!
So how did you five get together?
Three of us went to uni together. We were all playing in different bands supporting each other, and my brother, who’s the keyboard player played in my band and I was the singer and guitarist and Jake, who’s our bass player, had played in a band with one of our managers and he’d gone to uni with Dave, Killian and myself … which sounds a bit convoluted, but in some weird, miraculous way, we morphed into one band in the end.
We came in to play in Dave’s solo project but once we started writing together, Dave was like: “This is a band; it’s not a solo project”. And that was when we started writing the EP.
Once you started playing live gigs and jamming together, at what point did you realise you might be onto something big?
It was a really great environment for me to work with. I’d worked with a lot of wan*ers growing up … like my way or the highway, and all of a sudden I was working with people who were not only really talented, but also really great people and really respectful. So, I was like I didn’t really care where this goes – it’s just such a great environment to work in. For a musician, the pinnacle is to be able to be a creative as you can, and then one day someone to notice it and maybe give you a show – and we were fortunate enough to run that gauntlet.
The tour kicks off soon. What final preparations are being made?
We recently just got back from our European tour and this week has been all rehearsals, as we are putting together a new show. There are going to be a few new tracks that haven’t been played live before, and we’ve got a new set and we’re bringing the whole crew on tour for that, which is really exciting.
It’s going to be a completely different set; there’s going to be a lot of tracks from the album and some tracks from the EP and a couple of new tracks – particularly exciting, as we haven’t done this much rehearsal for a tour before … seven full days of rehearsal and a few days of production rehearsal. So yeah – really exciting and a little draining, as the jet lag is kicking in!
This is a big tour, extending over two months … tell us a little about life on the road.
We’re fortunate enough in Australia to have a really great crew, so on the road we’ll get to a city and the crew will go down and start getting the set ready … while we get to be lazy (laughs)!
So we’ll go out and get to see a little bit of the city. We get down to sound check at about 3pm in the afternoon and make sure everything is going right and work on all the vocals.
From there, the two support bands usually roll in; they’ll be on the sound check too, then we do the show, and we have a little bit of an afters (party) … but we’re not a big party band, and we’re usually back in the hotel within an hour and a half of finishing the show.
Then we get underway to the next place. We’re getting old, we’re not very Rock ‘n’ Roll at all (laughs)!
You mentioned your support bands, who are the Jungle Giants and Tin Sparrow; tell us about them and why you chose them to support you on this tour.
Well, they are both great young bands. Jungle Giants speak for themselves; you have probably heard their songs on Triple J … we love those guys. We don’t know them personally; we just hunted them out, as we really like their tunes, and we’re looking forward to meeting them and seeing how they go live – which we have heard really great reports about.
Tin Sparrow we went to university with, and we have wanted to take these guys on tour for a long time. The time’s just right now; they are lovely guys, they write some great tunes, they have an EP coming out, and they are incredible live. They have a great energy and some funky tunes.
You’re playing a few venues across the Mid North Coast, Coffs, Port and Forster … have you been to any of those places before?
No, we haven’t – this is going to be the first time.
Last year went really well for us, quite unexpectedly, and our idea was that normally when this happens, the bands head straight overseas and tend to forget Australia and the Australian regional markets. For us, while overseas is a priority, our biggest priority is Australia and connecting regionally in Australia, and that is something we have wanted to do for some time.
We have kept the ticket price low, ‘cause you know, when we were at uni and we were those kids, if we wanted to go see a show and the band had got a little bit too big for their boots and were jacking up the price, then you couldn’t really afford it. So we just tried to make a tour so that anyone who wants to come can come. Hopefully even for those who are a bit far from capital cities, they can still come and have a beer and enjoy the night out.
You picked up five ARIA awards last year – a great nod from the marketplace. How has it propelled you forward?
For us, it was unexpected, really unexpected, and we had already been planning the next record. The thing I really love about Boy & Bear is that mutual respect in terms of our creative vision, and the favourite part for us is to be able to create new songs and play them live for people, so we’ve been doing that.
The ARIAs were really lovely and it’s great to be recognised by people; I think that that is something a lot of musicians deserve, but don’t always receive. I am not sure we deserved it, but we were very humbled by the fact that we were recognised. I don’t think you can rest on that, and we are onto the next record now and writing that at the moment. And that’s why (on the tour) we’ll start to play some new songs live and see how the audiences respond to them.
Thanks Tim; see you at the concert.
This story was published in issue 64 of Manning-Great Lakes Focus