Exactly 10 years on from the release of their chart topping, ARIA-nominated album Harlequin Dream, Sydney’s Boy & Bear return with a brand new single Abraham alongside the announcement of a new EP Lost Dreams; and the timing is no mere coincidence, with the new material comprised of found songs taken from the Harlequin Dream studio time. A celebration and continuation of the band’s most successful album to date, the Lost Dreams chapter launches today via the sun-soaked Abraham, ahead of the EP’s release on Friday September 15 amid the band embarking on an extensive regional tour throughout September, October and well into November.
It’s all happening for Boy & Bear! Firstly, there’s the ‘Lost Dreams’ EP (out Sep 15) featuring 3 never-used tracks from the Harlequin Dreams album recording sessions, plus a new 10th anniversary Harlequin Dreams vinyl pressing and a string of live dates. There was plenty for Australian Musician editor Greg Phillips to discuss with Boy & Bear’s David Hosking and David Symes recently over a zoom call.
MORE ABOUT BOY & BEAR’S ‘LOST DREAMS’
A jubilant blend of folk, blues and pop, Abraham seamlessly unfurls with undulating vocals, sparkling instrumentation and pulsing yet sparse rhythms, equally floating and foot-stomping in trademark Boy & Bear fashion. Offering a track that is just as at home in 2023 as it was back in the band’s Harlequin Dream era, drawing inspiration from the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Band of Horses amongst many others, Abraham’s unfettered groove-laden 70s pop charm presents as part time machine and part celebration for Boy & Bear, as lead vocalist and guitarist David Hosking explains, “I think It’s always interesting looking back and listening to old tunes. On one level the band has come such a long way but it’s also exciting to be able to reflect on the way we were approaching songwriting back then. I think we were definitely more traditional in that most songs had these big choruses and sing along moments and Abraham definitely sits in that world. Hopefully people can connect with that old approach”. And Abraham’s footloose whimsy was certainly no accident at the time, as vocalist and instrumentalist Jon Hart reflects, “It’s a bit of a time warp listening back to Abraham, I can remember where I was sitting in the studio when we recorded it and what life felt like back then. We’ve always been classic overthinkers in the studio, but I think that Abraham sounds pretty free and just like we went in and played it without labouring over it too much.”
With three new songs retrieved from the Harlequin Dream studio archives lying in wait on their upcoming EP, including the blissful Abraham, the jaunty emotives of Eye Of The Canyon and the neofolk charm of Mexico, the trip down Boy & Bear memory lane was not initially a journey the band had ever planned on taking. With all three tracks written by the band themselves, co-produced by Wayne Conolly, mixed by Phil Ek and mastered by Greg Calbi, the eventual road to Lost Dreams initially started with actual loss, with the EP’s finished singles seemingly lost in the void before the mastered files were saved and pulled from the depths. “We were all definitely aware of the songs’ existence,” says guitarist Killian Gavin, “but just like the growing folder of songs we never finish, I don’t think we ever thought they would see the light of day. We couldn’t find the files for the songs so we ended up speaking to Phil Ek (who mixed the album) to try and track down the mixes, then he put us in touch with the mastering team who were surprisingly able to track down the mastered files from 10 years ago!”. And, as bass player David Symes reveals, the unearthing of the seemingly lost tracks opened the floodgates to the Boy & Bear experience over a decade ago, “It’s like finding an old t-shirt in the bottom of the draw when you move house. Kind of like: wow, remember that!? It brings back memories and feelings from that time, everything from the light that filtered in through the window while we were recording, to the meals we shared at the end of the day.”
An organic expansion on the album that snagged multiple ARIA award nominations, a triple j award nomination and saw Boy & Bear achieve their first ever ARIA #1, as well as spawning the band’s breakout single, triple Platinum Southern Sun which has amassed over 80 million individual streams to date, Lost Dreams not only sonically expands on the Harlequin Dream universe established in 2013; its artwork also comes full circle, with Harlequin Dream’s artist Vaughan Flanagan returning to conjure the aptly dream-like Lost Dreams cover, as Gavin elaborates, “We came up with the elaborate concept and drew a mock up (very poor version compared to the final) – then we got the wonderful Vaughan Flanagan to do the heavy liftingand bring it all to life”. And as to the new cover’s concept, Hosking reveals, “We definitely came up with the concept of the artwork. We wanted it to feel dreamy to tie in with the title. There was an old film I can’t remember the name of, but it had all these cowboys attempting to tie down a T-rex which was pretty cool and that became part of the inspiration. I’ve always had a love too for anthropomorphism and wanted to embrace that to give the artwork this other worldly feeling”.
Since forming in 2009, Boy & Bear have consistently presented as a band focused on moving to the beat of their own drum, while also continually and effortlessly enamouring with their dulcet yet refreshing brand of indie rock. A band hellbent on creative curiosity and pushing themselves as musicians and songwriters, Boy & Bear have attained a level of staying power most artists could only dream of; and all without sacrificing their authentic vision and driving love for their craft. Achieving early career support from triple j and triple j Unearthed, Boy & Bear swiftly catapulted into national contenders, releasing their double-platinum debut album Moonfire in 2011, which went on to snag five coveted ARIA award wins. Since then, 2013’s Harlequin Dream and 2015’s Limit Of Love only strengthened Boy & Bear’s expansive presence, with both albums charting at #1, and Harlequin Dream marking the group’s second studio album to go Platinum. From 2019’s Suck on Light to 2023’s self-titled full length, Boy & Bear have continued to grow and strengthen professionally amidst the ever-changing musical climate – and there’s zero sign of slowing down anytime soon in the land of Boy & Bear, including a special 10 year anniversary Harlequin Dream vinyl set for release on Friday September 1 ahead of the Lost Dreams EP release two weeks later.
Having performed across the globe throughout their career, including multiple world tours and appearances at the likes of Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Splendour in the Grass, Boy & Bear are equally capable and comfortable onstage to sold out crowds at the Sydney Opera House as they are performing on Conan O’Brien, and fans across Australia will be able to witness the insatiable past, present and future of Boy & Bear live in action later this year, with a huge regional tour that will kick off on September 13 in Castlemaine, Victoria, before closing out on November 26 at Queenscliff Music Festival in Victoria. With five shows already sold out, the upcoming Boy & Bear tour is set to be something truly special for all involved, as Symes shares, “Jumping up on the Band Stand and performing is a place where our songs can take on a new life and journey through the live experience. The journey of a band and a song is endless, and our live show is always evolving”. And there will be plenty of surprises as Boy & Bear continue their incredible journey into 2023 and beyond, as Hosking concludes, “A new refreshed set list of old and new tunes. It’s been fun already on the Australian tour piecing together some old songs we’d never really played alongside new songs off the new record. I like to think our set is like a train setting off. It starts off with a subtle momentum and by the end we are in full flight and feeling unstoppable.”
Abraham is out now.
Harlequin Dream 10 year Anniversary vinyl is out now
Lost Dreams is due out Friday September 15.
BOY & BEAR – UPCOMING TOUR DATES:
Tickets available from www.boyandbear.com
WED 13 SEP | THEATRE ROYAL, CASTLEMAINE VIC | 18+
THU 14 SEP | GPAC, TRARALGON VIC | ALL-AGES
FRI 15 SEP | PIER BANDROOM, FRANKSTON VIC | 18+
SAT 16 SEP| TORQUAY HOTEL, TORQUAY VIC (SOLD OUT)
SUN 17 SEP | TORQUAY HOTEL, TORQUAY VIC | 18+
THU 21 SEP | BEER DELUXE, ALBURY NSW | 18+
FRI 22 SEP | ANITAS THEATRE, THIRROUL NSW | ALL-AGES
THU 28 SEP | NEWCASTLE CIVIC THEATRE, NEWCASTLE NSW | 18+
FRI 29 SEP | DRIFTERS WHARF, CENTRAL COAST NSW | 18+
SAT 30 SEP | BLUE MOUNTAINS THEATRE + COMMUNITY HUB, BLUE MOUNTAINS NSW (SOLD OUT)
WED 4 OCT | ALBANY ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE, ALBANY WA | ALL-AGES
THU 5 OCT | THE RIVER, MARGARET RIVER WA | 18+
FRI 6 OCT | THE RIVER, MARGARET RIVER WA (SOLD OUT)
SAT 7 OCT | OUT OF THE WOODS FESTIVAL, FREMANTLE WA | 18+
WED 11 OCT | SEABREEZE HOTEL, MACKAY QLD | 18+
THU 12 OCT | MAGNUMS, AIRLIE BEACH QLD | 18+
FRI13 OCT | JCU UNIBAR, TOWNSVILLE QLD | 18+
SAT 14 OCT | TANKS ARTS CENTRE, CAIRNS QLD | 18+
SUN 15 OCT | TANKS ARTS CENTRE, CAIRNS QLD (SOLD OUT)
WED 8 NOV | KINGS BEACH TAVERN, SUNSHINE COAST QLD | 18+
THU 9 NOV | KINGS BEACH TAVERN, SUNSHINE COAST QLD (SOLD OUT)
FRI 10 NOV | BURLEIGH BAZAAR, GOLD COAST QLD | 18+
SAT 11 NOV | EMPIRE THEATRE, TOOWOOMBA QLD | ALL-AGES
SAT 23 NOV | SHOALHAVEN ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE, NOWRA NSW
SUN 26 NOV | QUEENSCLIFF MUSIC FESTIVAL, QUEENSCLIFF VIC | ALL-AGES