There’s a huge amount of hype around indie folkmasters Boy & Bear. They’ve recently toured with Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons and have been flogged relentlessly by this city’s cooler radio stations. It’s easy to see why, too – their layered, harmonic indie folk-pop produces liquid honey sounds that are oh so sweet to listen to. The as yet un-albumed fivesome are about to go on tour and, lovers of fine music that we are, we plonked Jon Hart, the band’s keys and mandolin man, down on the virtual Side Street, Sydney couch for a chat.
At this year’s Splendour in the Grass festival, organisers thoughtlessly lumped Boy & Bear into a mid-afternoon set in the smaller of the main tents. Suffice to say, it was beyond squeezie, but any grumbles were overshadowed by the band’s magnificence. Minds were blown, celebrated contemporaries were outshone and obsessive love was kindled. “There was an insane number of people,” Jon recalls, laughing.
When the band’s first single, Mexican Mavis, was picked up by Triple J Unearthed and placed on high rotation, “it was a bit of a shock,” Jon confesses, “but when one of the commercial radio stations began playing Rabbit Song that was the real surprise. It just didn’t seem like the sort of song they’d usually play.” Radio play is crucial but Jon doesn’t dismiss the importance of touring: “The studio is one thing; being able to replicate that in a live context is another skill.” Based on their live shows to date, touring is probably not a “problem area” they need to worry about.
Proud of their hipster style yet happy to laugh at themselves, the band is working the vintage clothing scene like a supermodel rocks Vivienne Westwood stilettos. Dave Hoskins, lead vocalist, sports a terrific little ‘tache, which is more like a sleek David Niven wisp than a Tom Selleck jungle caterpillar. An unabashed love of “vintage-store sweater action, sort of like a weird uncle [offstage], but totally rocking it onstage,” is how Jon describes Boy & Bear’s fashion credo, in particular a “waffled emerald green number” that Dave adorns with alarming regularity.
No hipster is, of course, complete without admitting to the odd shameful teen wall poster. Aside from the to-be-expected Beatles print, he spent many years repeatedly blue tacking a giant life-sized Kurt Cobain in the wee hours every time it fell on his head as he slept. That, however, is not the embarrassing one. All you need is one name to understand his shame. “Neve Campbell.”
Boy & Bear’s Blood to Gold tour hits Sydney this week with two (tragically) sold out shows at the Oxford Art Factory in Darlinghurst. From there the boys head to the UK for a couple months touring. Not to worry though, they’ll be back for the summer festival season over Christmas (Falls Festival, South Bound and Sunset Sounds). Get your tickets early!
words: Kristen Hodges