Live4ever was excited to sit down with one of the hardest working Indie bands from the UK again – our friends The Boxer Rebellion were in town for two important gigs.
Nathan, Adam , and Todd greeted us for a chat at their sound check for that night’s (o9/23) Bowery Ballroom concert in New York City (Piers was picking up his missus). This was a well needed follow up to our last two meetings at SXSW festival in Austin TX and the film premiere party for the new Hollywood flick “Going the Distance” at Bryant Park in the Big Apple. The band not only have 2 songs featured on the film’s sound track (‘Spitting Fire‘ and ‘If You Run‘) but they appear playing themselves in the movie as well – we’ll get to that later….
L4E: How has it been so far?
Nathan: I’ve enjoyed myself so far. Although it has been trying.
Todd: We’ve had a really interesting couple of days. The van broke down today. (We’ll just say, we’ve had some really long days!)
Nathan: It was a really weird day today though, thinking back. I think we left at 6:30AM and we were on the road for a bit and then the van broke down and we were there for two hours and then when we finally got to New York we did a recording at a radio station and then we came here and did the sound check. But it’s been good!
I don’t know how really successful bands do it, not that we’re not successful!
Adam: Sleeper Coaches! That’s how they do it!
Nathan: But I don’t think it’s a cop-out when bands cancel shows due to exhaustion. I can understand that.
Todd: The thing is, in the U.S. I didn’t realize that gigs were so late. In the U.K. you’re on at nine, here you’re on at 11, plus we have the lighting rig and a lot of equipment.
L4E: Do you like touring?
The band answer with an emphatic “Love it…”
Todd: Ahhh, we love it. The thing is, with all the other stuff that goes on the other twenty-two and a half hours of the day, it’s all worth it for the gigs, because they’re awesome.
Nathan: That’s what’s weird about it. A lot of time you forget that it’s all about the gig. Because you spend so much time doing other stuff, like travelling around, doing a sound check or doing a u-turn on the motorway because your GPS screwed up! And then it’s all great when you actually do the gig because it’s nice to remember that’s actually why we’re all here!
L4E: Ok, you’ve done SXSW earlier this year. In the middle of that, you did a night in Dallas and you’ve done two nights so far on this tour. Do you notice the difference between the crowds in the U.K. and here in the States?
Adam: They’re a lot more vocal. I think that comes from the wider differences in culture in that the British are more reserved people in general. You tend to get louder crowds here, which is great.
Nathan: It seems they’re more responsive here in that in Philly, it seemed like an audience full of people who knew the songs and last night it seemed like the audience was full of newer fans even though it was a bigger crowd. Both gigs were really great but they were different. I guess you don’t get that in the U.K. as much.
Todd: I mean the whole thing with ‘Going the Distance’ is that we’ve got so many new fans and so, we’re going to go back and do a small tour of the U.K. and we don’t know what the crowds are going to be like and how they’re going to change from town to town.
It was really interesting when ‘Union’ came out and we had so much press and sold so many records and then we sold out Dingwalls in London six weeks before, there were a lot of fans that downloaded Evacuate and got Union but hadn’t checked out Exits. So, up until that point we had loads of hard-core fans who knew Exits and then we had this gig in Dingwalls and people didn’t even know Watermelon. Like, some people didn’t even know Watermelon!
So, it does change but it’s still really cool that some fans have still to check out our older music.
L4E: I wanted to read this quote from your blog that really struck me, something Piers wrote:
“I am acutely aware of how long it has taken this particular band to actually tour the States and it is for that reason that I am ridiculously proud of everyone involved that somehow, and under completely our own steam, we’re doing it, and at what feels like completely the right time.”
Can you talk about that a little? Because it seems like it’s something really special to you guys to be coming here for this tour, now….
Todd: Yeah! It’s just because of our achievements with Union and then the movie and still being independent, growing our own fan base and here tonight at Bowery Ballroom, it could sell-out!
And then, we get to go back to the U.K. and Europe and then we’ve got our new record coming out which we finished and we think is infinitely better that the last two and a real step forward for us and we can see that if we can capitalize on that we’re going to keep moving forward.
L4E: So, that momentum we talked about in March at SXSW, seems to be with you now.
Adam: Yes, absolutely. And you can’t forget that even bands with a lot of label backing in the U.K. don’t get the chance to tour the U.S. because it’s a big endeavor to try and crack the U.S. A lot of bands try and don’t succeed and a lot of bands that are big in Europe don’t even come over here.
Todd: Yeah, we never left the U.K. when we were on Universal.
So, to do it in the first place is great but to do it whilst being independent artists is an absolute achievement that we are very proud of.
Nathan: I’m excited because we’ll be playing my hometown. Which is going to be embarrassing in a way! In a good way – my parents have said they bought box seats! The venue is this theatre and my cousin e-mailed me today and said that they bought box seat across from my parents box seats!
L4E: You must be psyched about that though, a homecoming of sorts….? But I was wondering about this because one of the guys in another band we interviewed recently has a bit of a hard time playing in front of family and friends. Are you the same?
Nathan: well, the thing for me is that I’m not a natural front man in the sense that I’m kind of shy and I’m not normally the guy who gets up in front of a bunch of people and sings songs so, you do have to psyche yourself up and put on a façade and put on a show really. So, family and friends will immediately think… ‘that’s really weird, he’s not normally like that’!
Adam: I know exactly what he means too because I’m naturally more nervous and more self-conscious when I play in front of family and groups of friends because they’re going to be the first people to tell me that I look like a dick!
Todd: I was pretty lucky in that sense because the first time my family had ever seen me play was in Melbourne when we did a gig with the Temper Trap and it was a 2,000 capacity venue, it was really busy and we played an absolute blinder and my Mom, my Dad and my brother were there and they absolutely loved it, so I said we’ll leave it at that!
L4E: Tell us about some of the set list for this tour. You’re going to debut some of the songs off the new album?
Adam: Yes. And we’re going to debut a songs that we’ve never played live before from Union, which is the ‘Gospel of Goro Adachi’ and that;s been a struggle to do in the past because we could never quite replicate the sound from the studio version of it to the point where it was better than the studio version and when we play a live show, we want to enhance what the audience hears on the record so they really feel like they’ve made the right choice in coming to see us. We want it to be an experience beyond the record.
But, we’ve now worked on it to the point where we’re excited to play it live, finally!
L4E: I read that you recorded the new album live and I’ll get to that in a second but neither Union or Exits was recorded live?
Todd: No, both of those were recorded meticulously track by track with overdubs and all that.
Nathan: Well, we started it live so we could get a feel for it and we did the drums live and everything else we would go back and do. But that’s kind of how most bands do it these days.
L4E: So, how many new songs are we going to hear on tour?
Todd: Three new songs I think.
L4E: And will the first single from the new album be one of those three songs?
Todd: It will be!
Adam: You’re going to have to guess which one!
L4E: What about the name of the album? Is that out yet?
Nathan: I think we can tell you the name of the album….! It’s called The Cold Still.
L4E: Is that an exclusive?
Todd: Well, it’s an exclusive in that we’ve told you because it’s just been a case of it has been randomly said to not tell anyone! It’s called The Cold Still. I think it’s been spoken enough about that if people really want to find it, they will find it.
L4E: How do you guys normally work on the set list? Is it something that changes from night to night?
Adam: We usually try and keep it so that it’s a bit of a journey without sticking in one spot, so that it doesn’t have one kind of feel. Only very specific songs work as a starting song and then only very few songs work as an end song, so you have your bookends and then you have the journey in between.
Nathan: I think we’re only playing three songs from Exits, in a sixteen-song set, which is kind of weird in a way.
Todd: Well, Union was re-released in September so it’s very Union heavy and then we’ll definitely throw a lot more new stuff off the third record when we come back in the New Year because the album will probably be out in January.
L4E: But do you guys make changes?
Todd: If stuff is not working, then we’ll definitely change it. And we also got to accommodate for stage size because you go somewhere like Johnny Brenda’s there’s no way in hell you’re going to get the keyboards set up – I’ve got so much gear now, with the keyboards, the loop station, computer and we’re going to debut Goro tonight because we couldn’t fit the proper gear on stage the last two nights.
L4E: Any particular cities or venues on the tour you’re looking forward to?
Todd: Well tonight here (in New York/ at Bowery) is the big one. I mean, L.A. is going to be good, Chicago is going to be really good. Toronto. I don’t know – I think we just genuinely love the fact that we come all this way and people, no matter where we are, actually know us and buy tickets to see us play. We were talking about this before. In the U.K. we pretty much bank on the fact that nobody is going to show up and the rest is a bonus although it is changing. But, it has been like that for so long that that’s the way we think anyway, you know what I mean?
Check out how the band members describe the ‘live’ recording process of the new album ,what it’s like working with such a great producer and what kind of impression they got of Hollywood star Drew Barrymore during the post activities of the flick ‘Going The Distance’.
We hijacked the greenroom’s only available light bulb for the interview, hi tech …we know:
All Photos:The Boxer Rebellion Live at The Bowery Ballroom, NYC
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