We were lucky enough to catch up with Tim Hart from Boy and Bear, fresh of the announcement of a massive regional tour to talk, touring (obviously), Harlequin Dream and solo projects.
Lets take it back to the very beginning. How did boy and bear form?
Mate, I guess a few of us went to uni together, and we were playing in a few different bands in Sydney and all supporting each other. Then it started as Dave’s solo project and slowly each of us came on board and I joined on drums, and we started writing songs, and were like “We should be a band”. Then we recorded and released our first single and it just went from there.
You recently had a change to the arrangement of the group before recording this second album, how come?
Jakey, who is actually one of my best mates, decided that touring and the on the road life wasn’t for him. So he has moved on and is back at uni doing creative writing and doing really well. So he decided to call it quits for the second album and we have got a guy called Dave Symes in who has been wonderful since he joined. That has been over a year now and so it is a change of line-up, but to be honest it was really sad for us. You kind of just take it as you go, but he is doing really well now and is really happy, and we are working well with Symesy, and hopefully Symesy is with us for the duration of the band.
How do you go about finding a new member when you have already cemented yourself as a major band on the scene?
I have no idea, we got lucky! We were really fortunate. He was a really big fan of what we were doing and he was already playing bass with Sarah Blasko. He just came in to fill in, and Sarah was stopping touring for a little while, so we made him an offer. He was really excited, and he’s just kind of jumped in the seat really. We didn’t actually have plans to replace Jake for a while, but then Symesy came along and he’s so talented he brings so much to the team. He has a fantastic sense of humour and just fits in with the boys so seamlessly, and is now just one of the boys.
Second Album dropped last year ‘Harlequin Dream’. I felt that it was a lot more folk based than ‘Moonfire’ was, how would you describe the sounds compared to the first album?
I reckon it’s got more pop structure songs. And when I say pop I don’t mean Lady Gaga, its more 70s pop channeling The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac and that sort of thing. And to be fair that’s what it’s being compared to. We just tried to write songs, like, it’s not like we are trying to re-invent the wheel, but hopefully it’s been well thought out, and we worked as hard as we can to produce them so they sound as good as they can. Hopefully it’s something that we can reproduce live. I just really love the sound on Harlequin Dream.
I saw you guys at the album launch and also at Splendour, and it sounded pretty good.
Thanks man, yeah that means a lot, we are pretty happy with the result. Hopefully you can catch us this tour.
A lot has been talked about the use of the saxophone on the album. How did you come around to incorporate that into the music?
I am quite proud to say that the thing that’s great about our record label is that they don’t get involved in that kind of stuff. They just kind of leave the musical stuff to us and let us do what we want to do. It was Dave Hosking’s idea and he said “I’ve got this idea, I know it’s a bit of a risk, what do you guys reckon”, and we were all like “Hell Yeah”. So we got Andy Bickens to come in, and he worked with Cold Chisel and is a lovely guy. He came in and he played it, and we were all in stiches laughing and we were like we have to do this, it has to be on the record. And you know it is a funny moment, but I love it, I can listen back to it and I really enjoy listening to it. He is just such a great player, and it is a bit of a risk, because people can be like that’s so lame. But I guess that’s the risk you take, but it seems to have paid off.
You mentioned you changed the structure towards the songs in Harlequin Dream, does that mean you also changed the way you approached Harlequin Dream in terms of writing and recording?
Yeah we did it part by part, and we have been in the rehearsal room for 2-3 weeks, and then we would go into the recording studio. But it kind of took its toll, I mean the record was made over about 8 months, which meant that we tried to leave no stone unturned when it came to the official process of recording of the song. While the structures may appear quite simple, when it came to the arrangement and production of the songs, some of it was quite intricate, and others not so much. I mean, when it came to the last song on the record ‘Arrow Fight’, which was the last song we recorded, there was only 2-3 overs until we got the last take we were happy with. It was definitely a fitted approach, but then it did take its toll. It was a long process, so I’m not sure how we will do the next one, but we were happy with the result.
What about influences, you mentioned you went back to that 70s rock style. Does that mean you went back listening to 70s rock music, what were the influences you were listening to at the time?
We all went through this period where we weren’t listening to much except for classic pop and rock, and that was including radio and CDs and that was all we were really listening to. It wasn’t really a thing where we were like you have to do this. We were just kind of talking about it at one stage and we just kind of realized that everyone was doing the same thing, but nobody was talking about it. It was just that nobody was listening to anything new. We were just trying to not do what everyone else was doing on the first record, and avoid being that other new folk band. We didn’t really want to be pigeonholed. And this time I guess we just wanted to do what we were passionate about, and we all love that older stuff, and that included stuff like Terry Reed, Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles. And I think that is what has seemed to come out in Harlequin Dream.
You must have been pretty pleased with the result, seeing you got two songs in Triple Js Hottest 100?
You can never guarantee that people are going to stay on board with what you musically. And that everyone will like what you are doing so its great that people are still supporting us, listening to us, and coming to our shows. Triple Js support has been massive for us.
You have just announced a huge regional tour. Why did you decide to hit rural Australia?
I thinks it’s a real shame when bands don’t. I think its because a lot of my friends are country boys and country girls and they listen to Triple J religiously and that’s where they get their music. They love live shows but never get the chance to go to gigs and see live shows, and in Boy and Bear we really want to support our regional communities, so it’s a bit of a no brainer. As an Australian band we really feel we should be out their supporting those towns, so we have filled up our time with as many shows as possible, and yeah were so excited about it.
How many shows are you playing and where are you headed?
Mate, we are playing our first shows in Broome and Darwin which will be pretty exciting and a whole string of dates down the East Coast and Queensland, which will be really cool. We love travelling around Australia, it’s so beautiful, and particularly doing so many dates. With the towns being so much closer together, people won’t have to drive 5 hours to Sydney or 5 hours from regional Queensland to Brisbane to see our gigs. It will have a really different and a really special feel to it.
Its been said that you wrote Southern Sun, at Falls before you hit the stage. Do you think the uniqueness of this tour is likely to be a major influence for new songs?
Yeah yeah, I hadn’t really thought about it, but I like to think that Harlequin Dream sounded a whole lot more Australian than Moonfire did. We just want to continue to go in that direction. There are so many great acts coming out of Australia at the moment and I feel privileged that we are such a small part of that. I think that the support and inspiration that we will be able to gain from the Australian crowds will lead itself to new songs, and I look forward to that.
What is planned for Boy and Bear in 2014? More songwriting or a bit of a break?
So it looks like its going to be, I dunno if I should say that, but we will be back in the States and the UK and European for festivals in June, July. And then possibly another capital city run back here in Australia at the end of the year. So we will just keep plowing ahead, try and stay healthy and give it a real shot,
You also released your own solo album last time the band took a break. Any chance of Tim Harts second album hitting the stores soon?
Yeah totally, I just got home from Cairns on Australia Day. I have been there for the last three weeks, doing another record, and its about 90% done. So its just going off for mixing and mastering over the next few months and then we will pick a release date. So its definitely going to be another Tim Hart album.
So who have you recruited on this latest album? Is Jordan Ireland and his Middle East bandmates, and Dave Hosking back in?
Me and Mark, Mark from the Middle East are pretty much doing this album by ourselves. But then Jordan was hanging around too, but he had just had a kid. Little Naeve was born when I was up there and we hung out quite a lot, but I thought it would be a little rich to be like, I know you just became a father but come record this album. I think it’s a bit more experimental and more of a full band feel this record. I am really excited about it. I get the mixes back mid-February so we will see how we go. But it’s just so much fun in Cairns, such a great crew of people. It’s a bit nostalgic for me, doing another record, and seeing all those Middle East guys. Just hanging out with them is a really nice thing.
What about other members of the band, any of them doing other projects?
No, not really. Symesy is always busy helping people out with their projects, but the rest of the boys have just been lying low through January. We start rehearsals this week, and my girlfriend tells me I’m just a slave for punishment to do three weeks of work in January. But I love it. And the boys are so supportive of what I do solo. They are like “you’re crazy, but go and do it, were having a break”.
I will probably catch you guys at the Nowra show, which will be my first gig in Nowra, which will be pretty exciting.
Yeah we love Nowra and that whole South Coast. I have spent a fair bit of time down there. I learnt to surf at Gerroa and Seven Mile Beach.
Haha, same here, they have perfect beginner waves, hey?
Yeah, Yeah, Its cool isn’t it. Gerroa and Seven Mile beach is so nice. And Nowra will be our first South Coast show we would have played other than Wollongong so we look forward to coming down to play that show. We will give it a real crack, and hopefully catch a couple of waves too.