Boy & Bear’s Harlequin dreaming
SOLD-OUT shows, more ARIA nominations and a new bass player – it’s been a big year for Sydney band Boy & Bear.
The indie five-piece bring songs from their latest release, Harlequin Dream, to the Coolangatta Hotel tomorrow night.
Keyboard and banjo player Jon Hart says the new material sits well with songs from Boy & Bear’s 2011s ARIAwinning debut Moonfire in the band’s live set.
‘‘I don’t think it was a massive departure from our first record – it’s more just an evolution from where we were,’’ he says. ‘‘It hasn’t been a complete air-swing. ‘‘As a band we try to bring the feel from the record and get as close to the sound as we can, but to some extent we also bring a little bit more energy – even restrained energy – when we play live.
‘‘We definitely bring something more from our personalities to it.’’
Released in August, Harlequin Dream has earned the band ARIA nominations for best group and best rock album, while producer Wayne Connolly was also nominated for best producer for his work on the album.
Hart says he and his bandmates are most proud of the record’s sound.
‘‘I don’t think it was a deliberate thing to make this record sound more Australian or anything, but being here and being able to sleep in our own beds at night during the recording process probably makes the album sound a bit more like home,’’ he says.
‘‘We didn’t have that feeling of being in a big studio in another country, which gave it more of a unique feel. While our first record had a real international feel, this one feels more like an Aussie one that we can showcase to the world.
‘‘‘I didn’t play mandolin at all on this record so it only comes out on stage when we play the older tunes.’’
Boy & Bear welcomed new member Dave Symes this year after parting ways amicably with original bass player Jake Tarasenko.
‘‘It’s been a really different experience bringing someone in, but honestly he’s probably the most talented musician of all of us,’’ Hart says.
‘‘He has a background in jazz and even though that genre isn’t really necessary in our music, it really gives him the ability to stretch out into genres and sounds we previously didn’t incorporate.
‘‘It’s been good to bring somebody in with such a rich musical history.
‘‘It’s been tough personally saying goodbye to Jake though as we’re still mates and he was the one I used to share a room with, so it’s been a bit of a change particularly now that we’re on tour.
‘‘He handled himself and the situation really well though, because he knew this band wasn’t a long-term thing for him.
‘‘In some ways we were a family because you go through so much together, but I think we have come out of it a lot better than most other bands do.’’
Hart says he’s been overwhelmed by the support of fans on the band’s national album tour.
‘‘It has been a real shock that our venues have been selling out. It’s a pleasant surprise and with it comes a little bit of nervousness,’’ he says.
‘‘We’ve never been good at trying to guess what our audiences want. We’re just stoked they keep enjoying what we’ve been putting out.
‘‘Being played on the radio is nice, but it really about live performances and festivals and seeing how people are responding in person – whether they are really paying attention and drawn in.’’
Boy & Bear play the Beach Hotel, in Byron Bay, tonight and the Coolangatta Hotel tomorrow night.
Sydney band Boy & Bear land on the Coast this weekend as part of their Harlequin Dream album tour