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Album Focus: Boy & Bear

14 October 2015 | 8:01 pm | Aaron Bryans

With five ARIA awards to their name Aussie quintet Boy & Bear have captured hearts with their smooth tunes since their formation six years ago. 

Following their platinum-selling sophomore LP, Harlequin Dream, and an extensive period of touring the Sydney group decided it was time to plan for their next release; what resulted was a rushed writing process with a brilliant result involving the use of live-to-tape recording.

“There were a few things at play,” Hart retells. “We’d decided to work with Ethan Johns. We had a shortlist of producers and we got to hang out with him shortly in London while we were on tour and we really liked him and thought it would be great and he was excited as well. His calendar was more full then ours. He said he had this window in April or May to June and Dave (Symes) was freaking out that we didn’t have enough stuff and as a result of that and the amount of shows we were playing together. 

“We started jamming things and we’d come up with ideas, all of us had written before. We all were doing things and we had a method with Boy & Bear and we’d never tampered with that, but this time it naturally happened and we thought it was really cool and different. It’s freed Dave up as well cause most of the songs previously were his ideas, they’d start on acoustic guitar. But it didn’t have to be the same way and it meant we have a broader sounding album which we’re excited about.

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“I think the fact that we recorded the tracks live in the studio means there’s a different energy that comes through and writing in a collective way has pushed some of the dancier elements further then they have in previous albums. I think there are definitely some more up-tempo moments and I think the grooves are really strong in the album because that was a big focus for us and Ethan, getting a groove where it makes you feel like tapping your foot or moving or dancing. If you’re getting those feelings I think that’s a really good sign.

“It was one of those things leading into it we weren’t sure we were going to record to tape, but we knew Ethan had a reputation for doing it. I think it wasn’t until we walked into the studio and released there wasn’t a computer in there that it was going to be to tape. Because we’d grown up in the generation of digital recorders, by the time we’d started as a band it was all done into a computer and we’d never had to do a record the way people did before computers existed.”

Despite initial the group having initial nerves about recording live-to-tape, releasing Limit Of Love’s first single, Walk The Wire, was the most anxious moment of the recording process.

“Leading into it we were nervous,” Hart reveals. “Once we got there and heard the first one or two songs once we laid them down the sound was really captivating for us.”

“The nerves for me come once we’ve done the record. When it’s all done and dusted and finalised and you’re waiting or the single comes out and it’s the nerves of, ‘oh I hope this goes alright’. We enjoyed the process so much and at the time you’re making it you’re purely focused on fine instincts and making the best creative decisions we can.”

“What we’ve done from the start is try and make music that really appeals to us and feel is strong and classic sounding but interesting.”

Originally published in X-Press Magazine