BOY & BEAR

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - CAMERON ADAMS Moon­fire Out now ( Uni­ver­sal)

Their un­ex­pected suc­cess story.

IT’S the Youth Group dilemma. You’re an es­tab­lished band that have sur­prise suc­cess with a cover ver­sion.

Youth Group’s re­make of For­ever Young, an ac­ci­den­tal No. 1, be­came an al­ba­tross they never re­cov­ered from.

Syd­ney band Boy & Bear’s ( pic­tured) ver­sion of Crowded House’s Fall At Your Feet is also on an un­ex­pected tra­jec­tory.

The folk-friendly band rush-recorded the song for the Finn tribute al­bum He Will Have His Way late last year.

‘‘ Our bass player Jake Tarasenko hadn’t even heard the orig­i­nal,’’ Boy & Bear’s drum­mer Tim Hart says.

On tour in the UK they learnt Triple J had playlisted their cover. It would go on to make No. 5 in 2010’ s Triple J Hottest 100.

‘‘ We came home and the song had blown up,’’ Hart says.

‘‘ That was weird for us be­cause it’s a cover.

‘‘ But if you’re go­ing to do a cover at least it’s a Neil Finn cover.

‘‘ That’s a priv­i­lege. It sounded like a song we could take own­er­ship of.

‘‘ We en­joy play­ing it, peo­ple en­joy hear­ing it. It’s be­come part of our band’s make-up.’’

Ear­lier this month, at Splen­dour in the Grass, Fall At Your Feet, clev­erly dropped mid-set, be­came one of the fes­ti­val’s mo­ments – a mam­moth sin­ga­long from the get-go.

‘‘ I couldn’t hear a sin­gle thing on stage be­cause of the crowd’s singing,’’ gui­tarist Kil­lian Gavin says.

‘‘ It went fur­ther than we thought it would. I had to ac­knowl­edge it as a mo­ment and not move on in some ar­ro­gant way.’’

Now comes the Youth Group fac­tor. The band made sure the cover wasn’t on their de­but al­bum Moon­fire.

‘‘ You don’t want a cover to be­come the big­gest song on your al­bum,’’ Gavin says.

‘‘ But then look at Florence + the Ma­chine. You’ve Got the Love is an amaz­ing cover.

‘‘ We were wor­ried about the suc­cess, that was out of our con­trol, but it’s hard to com­plain about a song that’s done a lot for the band.’’

There’s very few com­plaints with Boy & Bear right now.

Feted from the mo­ment they formed two years ago, they re­ceived the seal of ap­proval from Brits Mum­ford and Sons and Laura Mar­ling early on.

‘‘ Any­one with that folk el­e­ment – Laura, Fleet Foxes, Mum­ford – they started the hard yards, get­ting peo­ple open to hear­ing and en­joy­ing that mu­sic,’’ Gavin says. ‘‘ That helped bands like us.’’ Sign­ing a world­wide deal with Is­land, they were given time to fol­low up last year’s EP With Em­peror Antarc­tica.

‘‘ They kept their hands off 100 per cent,’’ Hart says of their la­bel.

‘‘ They said ‘ Go do what you want’. It’s very rare but it’s clever too.’’

The band went to Nashville to record with pro­ducer Joe Chic­carelli ( The Strokes/ The White Stripes) to fo­cus away from their friends and fam­ily.

‘‘ We were liv­ing pretty much in each other’s pock­ets 24 hours a day for seven weeks,’’ Hart says.

‘‘ Mir­a­cle upon mir­a­cle we’re bet­ter mates af­ter it.’’

Chic­carelli was also in­stru­men­tal in push­ing the band out of their folk habits.

‘‘ I love folk, I’m a folk head, but Joe brings more of a rocky edge,’’ Hart says.

‘‘ It was head­ing that way, a bit rock­ier, big­ger and grander,’’ Gavin says.

‘‘ We didn’t want to be just an­other folk record com­ing out in the wave of ‘ new folk’ it runs the risk of dis­ap­pear­ing as fast as that wave does.’’

Spies sug­gest Moon­fire is headed for No. in Aus­tralia.

‘‘ We put the low­est ex­pec­ta­tions on our­selves so it feels like we suc­ceed,’’ Gavin says.

‘‘ If we sell 47 copies in three months that’ll be a win. But then you set your­self up for a mas­sive fail­ure if you don’t sell those 47 copies . . .’’

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