Boy & Bear bandleader Dave Hosking believes artists should write what they know, so he followed his gut instinct when composing the Aussie outfit’s new third album, “Limit of Love,” with forlorn folk-pop janglers “Showdown,” “Breakdown Slow” and “Where’d You Go” that reflect health issues he was facing.
“I would like to write a record that’s, well, lighter,” he says. “But my writing comes from a very honest place, and I can’t help those kinds of feelings from being in my head,” says Hosking, who appears with the group in The City this week.
“I’m not built for walking alone/ Now the truth is coming down hard,” Hosking sings in “Hollow Ground,” which exemplifies themes of metaphorical questioning and malaise on the album.
In his youth, the Sydney native always felt invincible, indestructible. “I always took my strength for granted, and never learned the art of restraint and looking after myself,” he says. But two years ago, he started experiencing difficulties with surfing and other physical activities.
While touring 170 dates in 2014, backing B&B’s last album, “Harlequin Dream,” he felt unusually exhausted and anxious.
“This year it culminated in a very real moment where, at one point, I couldn’t get off the ground,” he adds. “My ears were ringing, my eyes were doing strange things, and I was having cognitive problems.” Doctors have speculated it’s chronic fatigue syndrome. “But the good news is, in the last month, I’ve started feeling totally better,” he says.
Watching his strength ebb — with no diagnosis — was terrifying for the musician, who began documenting his emotions in song.
Even though he doesn’t believe it’s the focus of the entire record, he says, “When you feel the loss of your capability, there are some questions where it’s gone. So when this started hitting me on tour, I was definitely feeling loneliness and insecurity, and I guess that’s what a lot of these songs touch upon.”
Hosking had always been self-reliant, since he started Boy & Bear in 2009 as solo project from his bedroom studio. Gradually, other members, including guitarist Killian Gavin, joined him, until he had a quintet that added oomph to his delicate folk demos. Moonlighting in cover bands sharpened his skills, and Boy & Bear won 2012’s Breakthrough Songwriter of the Year at the Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards.
Hosking reports that he’s had no significant other to help him through his passing crisis. “But I’m lucky, though,” he says. “I live with my brother and his girlfriend, who are really great. So I’m well looked after. Big time.”
IF YOU GO
Boy & Bear
Where: Brick & Mortar Music Hall, 1710 Mission St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Nov. 19
Tickets: $20 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 800-8782, www.brickandmortarmusic.com