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How do you stay on the straight and narrow in a twisted industry? Killian Gavin shares the secrets of Boy & Bear

When I call Killian Gavin, it’s pouring rain and I am squatting in the shelter of a fire-escape doorway in the back alleys of Darlinghurst. I’ve left mum back in an artisan Christmas market to better get to know the guitarist of a band which needs no introduction; the music of sunny days and the lilted, swaying sound of Australian summerBoy & Bear.

Having just wrapped up the Limit of Love Tour spanning Europe, the US and Australia, Boy & Bear are returning now for a season in the sun with only a couple of small festivals in the works to keep the gears oiled. We traversed the progression of their music, staying on the straight and narrow and calling Sydney home.

killian gavin

Shifting sharply between easy folk and anthemic indie over three acclaimed albums, Boy & Bear have become absolute staples of the Aussie music scene.

Gavin, Dave Hosking, Dave Symes, brothers Tim and Jon Hart and Jakob Tarasenko are a Cinderella story of Aussie music. After Hosking discovered Unearthed in 2009 and started farming his tunes, Gavin jumped on board and soon followed the others.

“We are fortunate because we didn’t start off as close friends… we became a band and as a result of that you can either become close friends and it works or it doesn’t. I think that comes down to the personalities, we were on the side of the fence where it absolutely worked, we all connected and I would consider all of them my best friends.”

Boy & Bear was born and the triple j Unearthed Award was won.

A timely entry into the coastal Australiana movement alongside the likes of Angus and Julia Stone, Lisa Mitchell and Matt Corby, Boy & Bear attracted an audience indie and mainstream alike.

“I think when you’re starting off if you can catch any amount of a certain wave of music that’s currently hit, that’s a great thing… because when you’re starting off its so difficult to give people a reason to listen to you”

These days they draw a crowd and a half, having played The Sydney Opera House, Hordern Pavilion and an overflowing set at Splendour in the Grass amongst innumerable others around the world. This proudly Australian collective have proved that they have more than what it takes to create great music and win an audience looking for the sound of home and an original take on acoustic rock.

“As we have gotten older and have done many records since then, I think the demands change. The demands you put on yourself and the people that consume your music would subconsciously put on you.”

As far and wide as this band has travelled, the glow of performing never seems to wane and with each passing year Boy & Bear becomes more ambitious.

Focused and determined to push their music with the changing atmosphere of their audience, Limit of Love is mature, exquisitely produced and undeniably the beginnings of a legacy to last long into our cultural landscape.

It’s always great to hear a story where music brings people together, Boy & Bear being the product of just this, six boys hungry to make music and with enough ambition to make this dream a reality.

But Australian music isn’t all laid back beers on the back verandah and knowing smiles, it’s still the music industry and it’s easy to get lost. Very recent controversy exposed some Australian musicians as less than professional, exhibiting dark and antisocial behaviour.

“I don’t think you’re going to catch us trying to tear up a hotel room, it just feels really cliché…contrived, fake and those kinds of things are really just a marking of so much insecurity.”

“All of us have parents who would clip us over the back of the head if they ever heard that we were doing something like that… I think a lot of that is really more foundational. Of course you’re going to have times on the road where you’re going to treat them like you’re colleague and have those little run ins and those moments, that’s perfectly normal.”

“But it’s something you have to work at, you have to have a lot of big discussions and heavy moments where people are vulnerable and you have to absolutely, consciously work at it.”

With summer already banging down the door, Boy & Bear have been nominated in the Hottest 100 for their exceptionally well received Like A Version performing Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black.

“Because it’s not our style of music it gives us a creative challenge and I feel like the best covers form when you do take on a song from a band that sounds nothing like the bands that you listen to. Amy Winehouse, having so much of that jazz and soul influence and us being way more pop, folk rock, when you take a song that doesn’t sound like you….it gives the song a new life.”

So get online, harvest your votes and get ready for a the season of dreams, may 2017 be marinated in classic Aussie vibes, more than a few delivered by Boy & Bear.

Catch Boy & Bear at A Weekend in the Gardens on March 11. Tickets here.

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January 3, 2017

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