Way back in 2011 we introduced you to Boy & Bear - the folk-rock five-piece from Sydney who were doing excellent things for Aussie music. This week we've checked back in with the lads, and – whaddayaknow? – the goodness hasn't stopped flowing.
With their second album Harlequin Dream released over the weekend, the folky fellows are preparing for a mammoth tour in October. We figured by now they'd be veritable roadtrip experts, so we threw some questions at mandolin maestro Jon Hart to find out his tips for a life of travelling on four wheels.
What is the weirdest place you’ve roadtripped to? Last year touring in Europe we ended up in a place called Watou, somewhere on the Franco-Belgian border - right near where the battle of Ypres was fought in World War I. We stayed in a strange hotel that was run by a family who also lived in the hotel, and it appeared that we were the only guests. We could walk out the door of the hotel and head off to France or Belgium, on foot. The beer was cheap and it felt appropriately mysterious and removed from our lives in Australia.
Which five songs make it onto your ultimate roadtrip mixtape, and why?
The Middle East - “Deep Water”: This could be my favourite song of all time, and it’s an incredible experience listening to it while gazing at the moving landscapes out of a car window. It also helps make you feel okay about having sad and depressing thoughts whilst travelling.
Fleetwood Mac – “Dreams”: Fleetwood Mac just make me happy. “Dreams” has a groove that doesn't let you sit still and it has one of those choruses that you'll never get tired of hearing (and singing along to).
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals – “Let It Ride”: I think Ryan Adams’ albums are made for roadtrips (if you like roadtrips with twist of the dark and introspective). “Let it Ride” is relatively up tempo for RA and it has a killer guitar hook and classic chorus harmonies. I love him.
Phoenix – “Consolation Prizes”: Something about how Thomas Mars phrases words is unique, he seems to squeeze in syllables that shouldn't work, but they do. And Phoenix just do great catchy pop with massive hooks and cool production; you can love it unashamedly without being embarrassed.
Elton John – “Rocket Man”: How do you leave out Elton on a road trip? He sings about raising kids on Mars and when you hear that ridiculous (but awesome) guitar slide leading into the second part of the chorus, you know everyone in the car is going to sing "Rocket man!" and then mumble through the rest of the lyrics that no one really knows.
Three essential items to take on a roadtrip? Good headphones. They have to sound nice and be comfortable enough that you can fall asleep. A camera, for taking photos out of the window, of your friends sleeping, of your friends looking bored, indulgent self portraits - it doesn't matter what they’re of, just take lots. And a good book. When you're doing a long trip, there is going to come a moment where you don't want to talk to anyone and you are sick of doing nothing.
What’s your favourite roadtrip game? We've gotten into playing trivial pursuit in the tour van and it's usually a humbling but enjoyable experience. I was surprised at how bad we can be at the music questions though.
Roadtrip snacks of choice? Fruit and nuts and things you can eat when you're sitting in a car all day that don't make you feel horrible.
What is the biggest roadtrip mistake that people make? Getting stuck with the middle seat. But a close second is falling asleep in the back seat in the afternoon sun, sans sunscreen. You only do it once.
Tell us a tale from your time on the road. A few years ago, we had a mildly pimping tour van on a tour we did in Australia. It had a TV in the back with a DVD player (that was the pimp element). On the way out of Sydney, heading north, we bought a DVD from a chemist or newsagent and watched it in the van. It was terrible, possibly the worst movie I've seen. We stole the name of the movie for our first album, Moonfire.
Who would you love to be stuck in a car with? Travelling TV chef, Rick Stein, would be fun. He'd have finely honed instincts for finding great food on the road. He'd also know the locations of farmers markets everywhere and you could probably twist his arm to cook every now and then. And let's not forget that he likes a cold beer and/or a glass of red wine after a hard day’s work on the road!
Dream roadtrip destination? It would have to be Europe. I’m a fan of history and there’s something special about going to places where things you’ve read about actually happened. Also, I find the relative closeness of European cities appealing. Ten hours drive in Australia takes you from once capital city to another, but in Europe that could take you through three of four countries.
Boy & Bear's album Harlequin Dream is out now, and you can find out all the deets over here, or grab a copy from iTunes.