This weekend sees the return of BASSINTHEGRASS, the Northern Territory’s largest music festival, back with another collection of great Australian artists to give fans a party under the sun.

Back bigger and better than ever – last year’s event drew a record-breaking crowd of 14,000 music fans – BASSINTHEGRASS recruited some of the country’s finest festival favourites for its 19th year.

One of these artists is Boy & Bear (who Tone Deaf named as one of the must-see artists at the festival), who are looking forward to a big year.

The indie folk band started 2022 with the release of the uplifting ‘State of Flight’, their first single in three years. A stomping ode to the power of art and creativity, the track was precisely what was required to remind fans of what they’d been missing.

‘State of Flight’ is just the beginning, with the Sydney five-piece being busy in the studio working on more new music. Before that, however, comes a lot of touring: BASSINTHEGRASS will be swiftly followed by a national headline tour, as well as an exciting return to North America and Europe (see full dates here).

As they prepared in Darwin for their BASSINTHEGRASS performance, we caught up with the band’s bassist Dave Symes to discuss the festival, the Northern Territory, and their future plans.

To find our more, and to see the set times, head to the official website.

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Is this your first time at BASSINTHEGRASS?

It’s not actually but it’s our first time on the new site. The last time we played at the Ampitheatre and it’s sort of doubled in size now. I had a look at the site this week and it looks awesome actually.

It’s right on the beach?

It’s right on Mindil Beach! Nice sunsets and stuff like that.

After these difficult last few years, it must just be nice to go to a completely different part of Australia for a bit. 

It’s amazing. We had that chat on the plane, because flying from Sydney to Darwin is about four-and-a-half hours, and you realise you’re really going somewhere totally different from home. It’s great to be able to get back out, especially to the other end of the country. There’s a great buzz in the air.

Have you been up in the Northern Territory as a band before?

We’ve played in Darwin a bunch of times over the years but we never really had the chance to explore the rest of the area much. We came here a few days earlier this time and went to the Top End Safari Camp and spent some time out in the bush which was amazing.

We went on the lagoon boats and on the chopper to see what it looked like from above. We also met a few of our nation’s hungry crocodiles (laughs). The size of them is ridiculous up close. The ones we saw were like five metres long, which is about the same width as my house.

If you could only recommend one thing to do in Darwin to a fan going to BASSINTHEGRASS, what would it be?

Well after that safari camp, I’d definitely suggest booking a trip out to the bush. Getting to see the river system, all the different vegetation, and just see how magnificent it is out there.

Are there any other BASSINTHEGRASS artists you’re eager to check out?

We were checking out the lineup during the week and there’s a bunch. I’m really looking forward to seeing Vera Blue and Montaigne. I’ve never seen Dope Lemon live, so to see Angus’ band up close would be cool. Peking Duk, Hilltop Hoods, there’s so many great bands playing. It’s a really great lineup. You’re getting a lot of people travelling interstate to be here as well, so it’s not just locals, there’s a great vibe.

After taking a few years off, were you nervous about the reaction from fans to ‘State of Flight’?

It’s always a bit worrying putting a song out into the world but it’s actually been a nice celebration for us. While COVID’s been a terrible time for the industry, we were able to turn it into a bit of a positive for us in terms of being creative and writing lots of music.

It was nice to be able to come out of the blocks with a new song that we feel really happy about. The band’s been trying out some new things and we’ve been recording a lot again, so we’re looking forward to releasing lots of new music over the coming year or so.

That’s what I was going to ask next – is ‘State of Flight’ a sign of a full studio album?

Yeah, we’re definitely working towards a new album. We’ve been in the studio again just last week and had a great little session. We’ve been chipping away over the past while, so we’re really excited about getting it out to fans.

Do you think you’ll ever do another acoustic album like On Golden Retriever again?

Yeah, we really enjoyed doing that. We got lucky with timing because we recorded it just before lockdown. It’s another side to our playing style, we can play music where it’s just stripped back and us in a room. It’s something I think we do enjoy doing as well as making more produced and energetic albums. And it was received really well, so we’ve been discussing doing something like that again. 

‘State of Flight’ was your first single released independently?

That’s correct.

Enjoying the freedom?!

It’s great actually (laughs). We have good relationships with our past partners that we’ve released music with previously, but we just reached a bit of a crossroads after COVID. We decided to release a bit of stuff independently for a minute.

We’ve got a different team around us at the moment who were able to put that together and it’s been nice to get hands-on and try to learn how it all works. We’ve learned a lot over the years – every time you release a record or go on tour, you’re learning something new. It’s nice to give it a crack.

Do you go on tour immediately after BASSINTHEGRASS?

In two weeks! We’re doing a national tour in June, and then we’re heading back to North America and Europe. We’re about to launch into what it was kind of like before the pandemic, so fingers crossed! 

So this will be your first national tour since COVID?

Yeah, it is. We’ve been lucky to do a couple of festivals over the summer which helped us get back into the swing of travelling. It will be a bit more chaotic though, we’re all used to being at home. I might just keep the bag packed now (laughs). Fingers crossed the touring keeps happening. 

The support acts you’ve got are great too. 

We did something with The Rions earlier in the year and were really impressed by their enthusiasm and attitude. We’ve got CLEWS on a bunch of stuff too. They were supposed to open for us back when COVID hit and we had to cancel the shows, so it’s nice to get back with them. And we’ve also got Jack Botts on a bunch of the shows. I think it’s going to be a nice group of people.

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