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Interview: Dave Symes From ‘Boy & Bear’

Boy & bear

Sydney folk-rock kings Boy & Bear have just two shows left on their national ‘Limit of Love’ album tour. We caught up with the band’s Bassist Dave Symes to talk about the tour, song writing rituals, and Boy & Bear’s evolution and acclaim.

Boy & Bear have just two more shows left of ‘Limit of Love’ tour, have you guys enjoyed playing back home?

Yeah, it’s been great, it’s the first tour of the new record ‘Limit of Love’ in Australia so it’s been nice to play the new album to the audiences back here. We’ve had some great gigs so far, some iconic venues, we’ve played Festival Hall in Melbourne which was a great show, and we just played at a beautiful auditorium in Perth called the Red Hill Auditorium – it’s a beautiful outdoor amphitheatre about 35km out of Perth.

Do you have a favourite city to perform in?

No not really. We enjoy the difference in each city and venue. We’ve been lucky throughout the years to play some pretty special shows, in some very different places. We’ve done a lot of theatres, and bigger sort of outdoor shows, and small clubs. They all bring about a different experience for us as a band as well as the audience as well.

What’s your favourite ‘Limit of Love’ song to perform?

Actually at the moment it’s been really fun to perform the title track Limit of Love, we’ve been starting the set with that and it’s been really good cause of these funny little percussion sounds at the beginning of it, it really sets up the whole show. It’s been really fun to start the gig so I’ve really been enjoying that lately.

So you guys generally write your songs on NSW’s South Coast, have you had a chance to visit while you’ve been back in the country or is that for after the tour?

Hopefully we’ll get to do the same thing on the next album, it seems to really work for us. We just hire a house and set up in the lounge room with all our gear, record some demos. We also end up going down to the beach for a surf then coming back and having a big cook-up of some food. You work morning, lunch and night and in between you get to have some time off, it works as a bit of a holiday as well as a really productive writing trip. Being out of town means you actually spend a lot more time together working, even at night time when we’re just talking about some concepts we’re writing- even when we’re having dinner. It’s a really nice way to do it. But to answer your question, no we haven’t been back down there at this stage… until the next record.

Do you find that it’s more of a creative environment?

Yeah, it works for us I think. For us being in the one spot and setting up all our equipment for about 10 days, we come out of it each time with a bunch of songs. I think it’s creative in a sense that you’re able to totally focus on it for a period of time, no one has to go home at the end of the day or head out at lunch time to do something, and you also enjoy some down time. Like we all like getting out for a surf or cooking up a big barbeque.

Limit of Love is all about how people can lose themselves in the search for love, is the film clip an expression of that?

Yeah, yeah it is. It’s important to know it was done by a company we’ve used a few times Oh Yeah Wow. They did our Walk the Wire clip as well as Bridges off the last record. We really like their artistic visionary and each clip they’ve thought about something quite different. I guess with the clip it’s got lots of different meanings. It’s about this one room that unveils itself into all of these… You know it’s like the same room becoming different kind of scenes and different kind of moods.

It’s pretty abstract, how did you guys come up with it?

[laughs] Yeah it is, we mostly left it to them, we trusted their vision on this one. We worked with them more on the other two clips which we were really happy with. We had performance roles in those ones so we got to be more of a part of them. With this one we decided not to be in it, and just allow them- obviously they spoke about their ideas and how they wanted to approach it so we had discussions and all that, but then we let them do their thing. They’re really nice, great people.

You guys came in at #63 with Walk the Wire on triple j’s Hottest 100 of 2015, how good was that?

Yeah, it was great, it’s always amazing to get included in that stuff. You know the industry’s always changing in terms of what’s current on the radio and there’s so much great support from triple j, they’re really behind our music and our band. It was great to get a song in there, so we were really chuffed. Yeah we were really excited, a couple of us were listening on the day- a few at BBQs and stuff. You know you never know if it’s gonna happen so you never expect it so it was really great to get in there.

How do you feel the bands changed since the release of ‘With Emperor Antarctica’ back in 2010?

I think the main change has come from the amount of touring over those years. And obviously with every new album comes a new set breed of songs and a new approach to song writing so the band does evolve in that way as well. But I think from doing so many shows over the years you learn so much about each other and about how performance works. And you get better and you do sort of evolve and change, you learn new techniques, you learn how to interact and communicate. I think that being a band that is very much a live band in a recording sense as well as on stage, having that many hours of match practice doing so many gigs really helps develop the band’s sound.

Do you guys get close while you’re touring? Does it help the process?

Yeah, yeah I think it does. I mean we hang out heaps on the road, I mean sometimes you need some space because you’re kind of living on top of each other. For this band it works though ‘cause we all get on super good, everyone looks out for one another, respects each other. And we have a lot of the same interests, it helps if you have a good day- you might go out and have an awesome lunch or just a good day, that does reflect in your performance for sure. Because it’s kind of like communication and bonding and music’s all about that, it’s about interacting and communicating and understanding each other. If you have a good relationship off the grand stand it translates to having a good performance on the grand stand.

So what’s happening after the Australian tour?

Well we go straight from Brisbane to Dublin in Ireland and we start a full month of European and UK tour dates. Once this Australian tour’s over it’ll be great to get back to Europe and the UK and do a nice tour over there, so that’ll be exciting.

What’s next for Boy & Bear?

The rest of the year will just be a whole lot of touring. We’re doing the Groovin’ the Moo Festival for tiple j, that’s happening in April/May and we’re probably going to get back to America in the middle of the year and Europe as well. Then the backhand of this year I’m not really sure what’s happening yet but we’re trying to sort of book in as many tours as we can, then at some point work on a new record but the rest of this year’s looking like it’s all going to be touring and getting through as many places as we can, which we love doing.

Check out Boy & Bear’s recent triple j Like A Version HERE

Boy & Bear ‘Limit Of Love’ Tour Dates

Hordern Pavillion, Sydney

Riverstage, Brisbane

Get tickets HERE