It’s been four years since Boy & Bear released a new record and I know that because that’s about the amount of time Limit of Love has been sitting on my personal record player for. It’s been sitting there that long because my dog ate the sleeve to the limited edition copy I had.
But Boy & Bear fans may not realise how extremely lucky it is to still have the band blessing our airwaves.
Since 2011, the band’s lead singer Dave Hosking has been quietly dealing with a debilitating illness that had been misdiagnosed until 2016.
After years of not having answers, dealing with intense pain, anxiety, depression and slowly losing his sanity, a breakthrough diagnosis was made after a specialist identified irregularities in Hosking's gut that they believed was poisoning his nervous system. He was then diagnosed with Chronic Dysbiosis.
It wasn’t until transitioning from having a mystery illness to being properly diagnosed and starting Faecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT) that Hosking was finally able to find relief and start functioning somewhat normally again.
For those of you playing along at home, FMT it is essentially a ‘poo transplant’ and Hoskings was doing them daily with the help of his “poo roadie”, Harry whom he found via a letterbox drop.
However, in recent months Harry has been able to hang up his donor hat, with Hosking having found a new treatment breakthrough that has allowed him to put a halt to FMT.
"Long story short, it [provides a form of light therapy] called photobiomodulation," the singer has explained.
"Essentially it's the use of different wavelengths of light that stimulate human cells. Basically it repairs neurons and creates new neurons,” Hosking said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.
I caught up with Tim Hart (drummer & vocalist) and Dave Symes (bass) prior to Boy & Bear’s first show of the Hold Your Nerve tour in Brisbane to chat the hiatus, fears the fans would move on and refusing to quit.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
Having spent so much time off the road, it’s to be expected there were some first day of school nerves going into their first live show at The Tivoli in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. Both Tim and Dave Symes agreed that it was kind of a ‘weird’ feeling.
“It’s exciting especially stepping onto stage and seeing everything set up again,” said Tim.
“Like in the intervening couple of years you start questioning, what did it feel like again to do this? You know, like, I've done other shows on Solo shows and Symes has done stuff too. But it's like this is what I love.”
Weighing in on Tim’s feelings, Symes told me, “I think nerves and excitement and adrenaline. We've been rehearsing and getting stuff together then sort of getting our team back together and it feels like this is sort of the first match of a tournament or something.”
Boy & Bear’s Harlequin Dream is the first album I shared with my fiance that we both had a mutual affection for. She still reminisces about the girls’ trip to Splendour in the Grass in 2013, often whenever the stubby cooler with the old line up is pulled out on the weekend.
For me I fell in love with their deep and soulful sound, it’s a sound that’s a little Aussie and majorly unique. Not only do you know it’s Boy & Bear, you are listening to you get this feeling it’s lightning in a bottle.
Tim was pretty chuffed to hear me say they this.
“It's nice to hear that we have a sort of a signature sound that you can tell it’s us straight away because when you're so close to it you have no idea,” he said.
“Like you just, write. Cause we're songwriters first and foremost. We want to be creative and then you can, you do like you produce those songs in a way that you like it. And so then, you know, I guess it takes on its own signature.”
FEARS THE FANS WOULD MOVE ON WITHOUT THEM
A long hiatus away from the industry was pretty daunting according to Tim and Symes, both acknowledging the fears that no one would be here when they were ready to come back.
“There's always that in the back of your mind. I guess there's no guarantee that you're going to be, [or] your music's going to be accepted and received again by commercial things like radio or papers and by fans” Symes said.
Listening to Tim and Symes talk about music was a rather emotional experience, it’s hard to not get swept up in their passion.
“[We’ve] sort of written music that we love, and made it the best we possibly can. If you write and create something that's true and it has integrity, I think that really sometimes can, no matter what people's sort of taste [or] genres are, it can really sort of transcend that.
“Because it would've just been pretty f**king weird for us to come up with an EDM record, wouldn't it? You know what I mean?” Tim said through a big grin.
“IF THERE WASN’T MUSIC, I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I’D DO”
I didn’t go too much into Hosking’s illness with the boys but we did talk about what might have happened if the band couldn’t find it’s feet again.
“I don't want Symes to feel insulted by this, but I think me and him are the two who are rusted on in terms of music. If there wasn't music, I didn't know what I’d do. I'll find a way to do music”, Tim said.
“I'm the same. But, I guess within the band there were definitely moments where, with the unknown of when we were going to be able to get it back up and running, it's definitely the cloud hanging over our heads”, Symes added.
“Internally, it was always strong. Like we always believed, like you'd have moments of doubt, but we always believe would make through it. The hardest thing was when people would come to you and go, ‘Oh, Tim is Boy & Bear still a band? Everyone's saying that you split up.’ It’s hard when you start hearing that over and over again”, Tim agreed.
In the end according to Symes, they all “sort of soldiered on through it, kept writing and kept being together and working, working on ideas and inspiring each other.”
While it’s been a long time between drinks for Boy & Bear and performing live it’s pretty clear there is a buzz of excitement in the air for what’s to come.
Boy and Bear’s new album Suck On Light drops 27th September 2019