Interview The Boxer Rebellion

Currently on tour plugging forthcoming single ‘Code Red’, we caught up with London-based indie quartet The Boxer Rebellion at London’s infamous 100 Club.

Currently on tour plugging forthcoming single ‘Code Red’, we caught up with London-based indie quartet The Boxer Rebellion at London’s infamous 100 Club. Chewing the fat in the broom cupboard posing as the band’s dressing room were Nathan Nicholson (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Todd Howe (guitars), Adam Harrison (bass) and Piers Hewitt (drums).

You’re currently midway through a UK tour, how has that been going?
Adam: Yeah, really well - doing the toilet tour, there’s always going to be ups and downs, because often it’s dependant on how well you’re promoted in each city - one night you could be playing to a hundred people and the next night you could be playing to ten…

I heard last night in Leicester that only 15 people turned up…
Adam: Last night was shite.
Piers: Worst night of the tour.
Adam: Really, really fucking shite. And it’s a downer, but with tonight we’ve picked up, and it’s almost sold out.
Todd: It’s so up and down, it really fucks with your head.
Adam: Having said that, we’re a really ‘London-centric’ band, in that since we’ve been going, we’ve always played most gigs in London - we’ve always had a lot of support from London press and Xfm which is a London station - it’s always going to be a bit strange to do other parts of the country.

Has anything bizarre happened while you’ve been on tour?
Todd: Tyre blew out.
Adam: Yeah, that happened on the motorway, that was… hairy. It’s not really that bizarre, is it?
Todd: I really can’t remember anything…
Piers: Everything that’s happened that’s possibly been quite weird, you’re never likely to remember because you’re always in ‘that state’…

You put some mp3s on your website from a gig in Amsterdam - have you been surprised at the repsonse to these, in that there always seem to be people in the crowd who know all the words, even though the songs haven’t been properly released yet?
All: Yeah.
[Nathan joins us at this point]
Piers: We’ve had people in the crowd knowing more words than I do! I don’t particularly like those recordings, and I didn’t even know they were up there until they were up there, so I’m surprised that people like them so much. People that we know in the States and stuff though, it means they can listen to it.
Adam: We never thought that much about recording the Amsterdam show. It’s a really good show anyway, and it’s allowed a lot of people to get some kind of idea of the live show, which is usually quite hard. Usually, if we’d sat down and said, ‘Right, we’re recording this show,’ we wouldn’t be happy with it anyway, so the fact that we just did it and put it up was cool.

Guerrilla gigs seem to be the a common thing to do amongst up-and-coming London bands, would you ever see yourself playing one?
All: No…
Adam: The thing is our sound man is very…
Nathan: …particular, so we would never do it - if we did, we’d have to have a soundcheck for about 2 hours beforehand!
Adam: I think guerrilla gigs lend themselves to having a simple sound and a simple set up. Ours is neither of those.
Nathan: I would love to be in a band where you could do that though - one of the support band for tonight, The Paddingtons, the reason they’re first on is because they’re playing another gig somewhere else - which we’d never be able to do!

You went on tour with The Rasmus back in April…
Todd: Next question!!

…are you fans of their music or were you hiding backstage each night during their set?
Adam: We were already gone actually!
Piers: We were pretty much already in the coach. It was actually the first time we had a sleeper coach, we only had it for four nights so we made full use of it. We saw them on the first night in Birmingham though. And that was that.
Todd: The comedy value was unreal…
Nathan: They were nice guys though.

Are you looking forward to touring with Biffy Clyro in October?
All: Yeah!
Adam: We all like their music to a degree, I haven’t actually got anything by them…
Nathan: The reason I’m more familiar with them is because we’ve both worked with [producer] Chris Sheldon, and we’re good friends with the Oceansize boys, and they love the Biffy.
Adam: I think we’re playing with X Is Loaded as well?
Yeah, the first part of the tour is with X Is Loaded and then the second part is with Reuben.
Adam: Sounds good!

Which bands would you say have most inspired you and shaped you as a band?
Adam: We take a lot personally for inspiration, rather as a band - I don’t think there’s one set band that the whole band has taken total inspiration from. Except maybe… we all love Radiohead…
Piers: I would say Interpol.
Ooh, I saw them last night…
Todd: You bastard!
Adam: Prick!

Did the recording of the album go as smoothly as you’d hoped, or were there any problems during your time in the studio?
Nathan: There’s been personal problems that are still going on, basically we’re not 100% certain that what we’ve already done is ready to go out, we’re pretty much taking November off to concentrate on that.
Todd: We spent a lot of time mixing, and then we had to do the tour, and now we’ve got the Biffy tour. We’ve written some more songs as well.
Nathan: We have a finished album now, but it’s just not… ready. The album’s was supposed to come out around now, and we’ve not had much time so it’s kindof a pain in the ass trying to get it all done.

Are older songs like Watermelon and In Pursuit going to be put on the album?
Nathan: In Pursuit won’t be, but Watermelon will.

I always thought if it would be one or the other, then it would’ve been Watermelon to get left off…
Nathan: Well Watermelon’s going to be the next single actually - we’re re-releasing it. That’s the one that seems to always work well for us.
Adam: When we released it, we weren’t that happy with the campaign - there was a cockup with distribution and stuff. We want to give it a proper chance.

What plans do you have for the band once the album’s released?
Piers: We’re gonna split up.
Piers: We’re gonna split up and open a banana plantation.
Adam: The album’s gonna be legendary, they’ll be sucking everything from it they can - they’ll be releasing the Amsterdam recording.
Nathan: I think we’re all gonna drown in the Mississippi river.

That sounds a little bit ‘Manic Street Preachers’ to me… release one album and then split up. Are any of you going to disappear?
Todd: No, we’re actually gonna split up, and then reform under a different name, and keep doing albums as new bands. That way it stays exciting! And you gotta go through all the shit that new bands have to go through.
Nathan: In like, 10 years, you’re going to have the ‘legacy edition’…
Todd: It’s gonna be so wicked. We’re gonna to be so rich!

What do you consider more important, being a good live band, or releasing good records?
Todd: You can’t do one without the other. Thing is, there’s no way we’d ever release a shit record. Not knowingly anyway.
Adam: They’re so intertwined, because if you’re locked down live, and the songs are great live, there’s no reason why you can’t transfer that to record.
Nathan: Unless you have a shit producer.
Todd: I think… Seachange - awesome live, but the album was a little bit off the mark for me.

If you were to organise a one-day festival where you were the headliners, who else would you have on the bill?
Nathan: Probably U2, ‘cause they could support us.
Adam: The Editors, who are a new band, really great.
Nathan: So if you like Interpol or Joy Division you’ll like them.
Adam: Interpol as well!
Piers: The Killers.
Todd: Mogwai. Oceansize, for sure.
Piers: Sigur Ros.
Nathan: Springsteen!
Piers: The festival’s gonna be held on a coast somewhere, and the aftershow party would be on the beach. Sigur Ros would play on the beach. That’s what’s gonna happen. Sort it out!

Which bands have impressed you recently, and which bands do you think are undeserving of the hype surrounding them?
Nathan: I would have to go for Franz Ferdinand - the hype thing.
Adam: A band who’ve impressed me is The Bees. The Killers.
Piers: We’ve seen The Features live a couple of times… they’re… novel.
Todd: Are you waiting for us to say The Libertines?
Nathan: [sarcastically] They’re not over-hyped! What are you talking about?!
Todd: I think hype’s all about who’s fucking who in the industry…

What advice would you give to young bands starting out?
Piers: Get a part time job. Don’t move out.
Todd: Save your money.
Piers: Don’t your hair cut until someone pays for it for you.
Adam: Don’t send your album out as a demo - just send a few tracks.
Todd: Just send a plastic sleeve without a CD. They’ll be intrigued as to what you sound like, and chase you up for it.
Nathan: We get sent demos, and who the fuck are we? A lot of times, they don’t really look that great. You should make some effort on it.
Todd: I got an awesome looking demo, from a band called Exploits of Elaine - they sent me this hand-made demo, a foldout cardboard sleeve that the CD slides into, bound with string - it looked really cool.
Piers: Here’s a piece of advice - if you’re gonna give your demo to anybody, make sure you’ve got contact details on it.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in The Boxer Rebellion?
Todd: I’d be a green-keeper at a golf club. And making Zinger burgers has a huge appeal.
Piers: I’d teach drums. Easy money.
Nathan: I would be a sandwich artist for Subway.
Todd: Porn mogul! Part-time.
While you’re in the band?
Piers: While you’re a green-keeper.
You could make films on the green…

If you could own any object from a film, what would it be?
Todd: Marcellus Wallace’s soul.
Nathan: I would say a hover-board, or a light-sabre.
Todd: The Millennium Falcon, definitely… or a Death Star!
Adam: I think I’d love to own one of those memory eraser pens in Men In Black…
What, so if you have a really crap gig, you can erase the crowd’s memory?
Adam: Yeah! You can program their memory as well, so you could make them think, ‘That was fucking great!’
Piers: If I could own anything out of a film, it would be Keira Knightley. Every night of the week.

Leading on from that, if you could have anyone as a slave for a day, who would it be?
Nathan: Michelle Marsh maybe?
Todd: George W. Bush.
Adam: Could you have God as your slave? That would be some heavy shit.
Piers: Some people would say that he already is. I think that is a bit heavy, yeah. I’d probably have Nathan as a slave, actually.
Adam: Yeah, get him to wipe your arse…

Which band member would make the best James Bond…
Nathan: Oh, me!
…and who would make the best Bond girl?
Piers: YOU would make the best Bond girl! [pointing at Nathan]
Todd: I’d be the best Bond, I’m definitely the coolest.
Adam: Nah, Todd would make the best Bond villain… ‘cause he can be fucking evil.
Todd: I’ve been looking around for volcanoes, actually…
Adam: I’d be a miscellaneous death. Just be an extra in a scene, and then die.
Piers: I’d just be one of those crocodiles, eating shit all day. [makes crocodile jaw actions with his hands]

If you were superheroes, what would your names and special powers be?
Piers: I’d be able to see through clothes. Purely for my own enjoyment. I dunno what my name would be.
Todd: I’d be called Magic Man, so I could do all this magic, and have Magic Man by Heart going off in the background, that would be my theme.
Nathan: I’d be Batman, so I could go to Buckingham Palace.
Adam: Haha, topical! I think I’d be… ‘Cockman’. So I could spread the love all around the world.

And finally, what does it for you, marmite or jam?
Adam: Jam.
Nathan: Jam.
Todd: Fuck jam! Vege-mite.
Piers: That wasn’t the question!
Todd: Fuck that, I’m having Vege-mite. It’s a good substitute.

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