Forecastle Chat: Q&A With Boy & Bear

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WOUB contributor Josh Antonuccio is spending the weekend at the 2014 Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Ky.

He caught up with David Hosking and Killian Gavin from Australian band Boy and Bear to discuss their album Harlequin Dream, life on the road and what's currently on their ipods/turntables.

Josh Antonuccio: You're doing just a few shows this year; what’s the schedule been looking like?

Killian Gavin: We’ve been doing mostly festivals in the states, some club shows outside of that, and then go to Europe and do pretty much the same thing next month.

JA: First time to Louisville?

KG: Yes. We’ve had a chance to visit a lot of great music stores, vintage stores and found some amazing food. Yesterday we visited a great section called Bardstown Road. Great food so far.

JA: You have an incredible following in Australia, with two albums that have done really well there. What’s been the importance of American music on your sound? I hear a lot of things in your albums that would trend more towards specific American bands, than say, bands from Australia.

KG: I guess for both of us, our parents listened to a lot of American music, British music, too, when we were growing up. We still love and listen to a lot of that music today. Especially with the second record, there is way more of an American edge to it than the first one. (To David Hosking) I know that you were listening to some specific things like Fleetwood Mac around that time, things I would identify as classic '70s American rock.

JA: That’s funny you say that, because just this morning I was listening to Harlequin Dream and thinking that, alongside some shades of modern bands like Grizzly Bear, I also sensed broader American strokes from bands like Fleetwood Mac. Also, it seems like you were reaching back to an era of making an album with a concept, where songs speak to each other. I could even feel that in the album cover itself. There’s a lot of story to it.

David Hosking:We felt like we wanted to create an experience to some extent. You get the songs working together, and then why not try and get the artwork to work with that a bit. Not necessarily to have a theme, but to have a strong feel that, as soon as you pick up the album, these things start to unravel the story of what it’s about.

JA: I read that you worked with Wayne Connolly on this record and American producer Joe Chicarelli on the previous one. What made you decide against returning to Nashville for the recent album?

KG: That was a real learning curve for us, that first record. When you arrive, you really are somewhat naïve. There was a fantastic opportunity to work with someone like Joe, and logistically the Australian dollar was doing really well back then, so it wasn’t too much of a challenge to pick up and go to Nashville. Joe really wanted to work at a studio called Blackbird in Nashville. Since doing that, we learned a lot about how we would work; one of those ways was being able to do it over a long period of time rather than just one straight session where you're smashing it all out. We also wanted to be able to do it in the most relaxing environment for us. So for us, there’s great stuff and great people in Sydney, so why not make use of them? And we spread it out over eight months; it was great to be able to go home to your own house at the end of the day. Basically being in-and-out of the studio, at our own pace. Unless you're at home, you wouldn’t be able to do it that way.

JA: After the success of that album, what are your plans for the next year? Do you have new songs in the works?

DH: Yeah, we’re working on a bunch of new songs and did some demos at the end of last year. I took a little bit of time off writing because I just needed to, but then started recently writing some songs again. I think there’s a pretty strong idea about what we want from this new record, and feel like we’re moving in a direction which we really love. The question is, how do we build on that and how do we get better in terms of production and execution of takes? And just trying to tweak it to make a better version of it. 

JA: Current records: What are you guys listening to?

DH: I’m listening to an early Van Morrison record, lately.

JA: Which one?

DH: It’s called Astral Weeks.

JA: That’s one of my favorite records!

DH: Yeah, I sort of knew half the songs, but had never heard the whole record. And I just absolutely love it. Vocally, it’s just insane. 

KG: I love the new War On Drugs album; one of those that you need to spend a lot of time with. I listened to it about seven times through until I really got it, just like three or four months straight. 

Follow WOUB's Forecastle coverage on Twitter, Facebook and at woub.org. Photos by Josh Antonuccio.