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How Boy & Bear Have Trusted Their Spirit and Navigated a Changing World

Wild Turkey is celebrating the launch of its Discovery Series with a unique acoustic session from ARIA-winning indie band Boy & Bear.

Boy & Bear

Maclay Heriot

Wild Turkey’s Discovery Series launch will take place at a remote secret location this November. In a nod to Wild Turkey’s affinity with people who’re determined to forge their own path and seek out new things, the bourbon brand is asking music fans to guess the location of the secret acoustic session with Boy & Bear.

Boy & Bear have spent much of 2022 getting back in the swing of touring. The band recently returned to Europe and the UK for a run of mostly sold-out shows. The overseas trip followed the release of two new singles, “State of Flight” and “Just to Be Kind”, both of which will appear on an upcoming project.

In a commercial sense, Boy & Bear have led a charmed existence ever since their formation in the late-2000s. 

The band’s debut album, Moonfire, reached number two on the ARIA charts in August 2011; it’s since been certified double platinum. Boy & Bear’s next two releases, 2013’s Harlequin Dream and 2015’s Limit of Love, both landed at number one in Australia and catapulted the band onto the international touring circuit, where they made appearances on US network TV and appeared at events like Pukkelpop, Montreal International Jazz Festival and Bonnaroo.

Boy & Bear started out playing indie-folk music that was akin to Fleet Foxes and Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. By trusting their spirit, they’ve gone on to embrace elements of vintage pop rock and singer-songwriter classicism, but the emphasis remains on Dave Hosking’s ruminative lead vocals and the harmonies and careful arrangements of his band mates, guitarist Killian Gavin, drummer Tim Hart, multi-instrumentalist Jon Hart and bass player Dave Symes.

But for all their success, people in bands aren’t exempt from the unpredictable challenges of adult life. And so it was that at the end of the enormity of shows on the Limit of Love tour, Hosking no longer felt physically or mentally capable of hitting the road. He was chronically fatigued and later diagnosed with chronic dysbiosis, which led to feelings of anxiety, depression, hearing impairment and cognitive dysfunction.

After a series of setbacks, Hosking eventually found suitable treatment, and the band regained their enthusiasm for creative exploration on 2019’s Suck on Light, their first album in four years. Then, after a run of shows around Australia and a brief European tour, COVID hit.

For drummer Tim Hart, this series of challenges has only strengthened the band’s resolve.

“The most amazing thing happens when you continually go through trial and have adversity,” he says, “We had that with Dave’s health and then everyone went through COVID and then the state of the music industry at the moment and the fact that all these festivals and shows are being cancelled in Australia currently for soft ticket sales and for weather events. For the most part, it’s made us stronger.”

There’s no shortage of self-help manuals pontificating about how adversity will make you stronger, as long as you can muster the necessary resilience. In reality, it’s not quite so simple—when everything’s going against you, the temptation to flee can be overwhelming.

But Hart believes that the events of the past half decade have brought the members of Boy & Bear closer together, while also emboldening their commitment to trusting their spirit. “It’s made us definitely more appreciative of what we do,” he says. 

One significant development relates to the band members’ interactions with their fans. “I think that, for me, that has to be the focus that artists like us have going forward,” Hart says. 

“When we interact with fans and actually talk to people and hear their stories about what the music meant to them through COVID and through health struggles or whatever it is, that’s when you really feel that genuine connection and you understand that you’re not just a selfish musician that’s off pleasing yourself.”

Boy & Bear plan to release their fifth album sometime in 2023. In the meantime they’re focused on giving their live shows everything they’ve got and appreciating the unique bond they share with each other and their audiences.

“Through all of this, Boy & Bear have become closer,” Hart says. “We’ve become closer friends as a unit and we’ve also become more keenly aware of the fact that we can actually continue to produce something that can make a small difference in people’s lives, and also a big difference in our own lives.”