24. January 2014 By Walter Price 0

The Boxer Rebellion: No Labels Needed

By Claudia Price

The Boxer Rebellion was referred to me by a friend of a friend and as usual when I like something immediately I keep listening to their music over and over and over again.
The 4 piece London based indie rockers got my further unwavering attention when I read their music was being labeled ‘post-Britpop’, whatever that really means I am never too sure but it’s the Britpop part that brings a certain amount of further endearment to my soul. (I loved Britpop, I used to look like Britpop if you know what I mean…) Labels? I don’t need no stinkin’ labels…
You may or may not know that TBR started their musical career in 2001 and over the years they have released 4 studio albums, a couple of live records, were represented on various soundtracks and got their songs on quite a few TV programs ( I am sure I didn´t list everything).
And if that wasn´t enough they will start working on record no. 5 in March of this year. But before that Nathan Nicholson, Todd Howe, Piers Hewitt and Adam Harrison will be out there touring parts of Europe in February. And after reading concert reviews, I can say it will be a necessity for you to attend one of their shows, you know, if you enjoy being supremely entertained and all. Perhaps a Leipzig, DE show could be magically added…
“It’s not the volume or rock force that defines this London band’s grandiosity; it’s that intangible otherworldliness it creates in a live setting. ” By Melissa Bobbitt (Popmatters.com
A few days ago I grabbed my chance to talk to drummer Piers Hewitt. Here is our conversation.
It´s only been a few days since the change of years. What were the most memorable moments of 2013 for The Boxer Rebellion?
I think any year that a band brings out a new album brings some highlights. For a start, beginning the year in LA and spending 5 weeks recording the album was a definite highlight for me. And personally, the moment when I knew all the drums were finished and the record was really coming together was a great moment of the year. I think I had a couple of drinks that night! I think the change of feeling in Holland this year has also been really exciting for us. We have a bit of a change in some countries in mainland Europe this year but Holland has by far been the greatest. With that in mind, finally getting the chance to headline a sold out Paradiso in Amsterdam – a venue we have played a number of times before without headlining – was an excellent moment for us.
After “Promises“ was released last May did you already get a chance to work on new material? Any idea when the new release will be happening?
No, as soon as Promises came out we were on the road pretty much. We had a lot going on last year. We are not the type of band that can easily write whilst on tour. Writing album 5 officially starts in March. We are all pretty excited about moving on to that too.
The Boxer Rebellion was formed around 2001. That has been in our days and age quite bit of time of music making. What is out there for you that you haven´t achieved yet?
It was definitely a very long time ago since we formed. Lots of things have changed – the music industry is unrecognizable from what it was then really, and whatever our ambitions were in those days have surely changed with the times. I don’t think I could properly explain what I really wanted from this band when we started. Probably something a little more unrealistic than I want now. It’s ridiculously hard to emulate someone like Coldplay these days, in terms of size and continuity, but there are more avenues to explore for us as independent artists. 

In regards to what we haven’t achieved, there is a lot I suppose. Headlining Brixton Academy in London has always been a personal ambition of mine, since before I was in this band. It’s still not happened, but that doesn’t upset me as we have achieved so many different things that I am so proud of that I wouldn’t have even thought when this band formed. Platinum discs and awards would be nice, but there is a realistic aspect to what we do these days, and we are not driven by these things so much. Like I said, headlining the Paradiso was a great night for us, and one we have thought of in the same way as those platinum discs, but it was never something that kept us going. That is the music we make and the impact it has on the fans that we already have. They are what has kept us in this privileged position all this time.
How is the realization of your own record label coming along? In  some interviews I  have read you´re still working on it in others it says it is already established. And if so besides The Boxer Rebellion who would you like to sign or have signed already?
I think in terms of our label, it was never anything we entered into in order to sign someone else. If that happens further down the line then it is a bonus, but it was more an opportunity that came up for ourselves. In 2005, we were unfortunate enough to be dropped from a major label, but come 2009, we were equally as fortunate to realise, through a number of things, that we had the opportunity to go it alone and be an independent band. Yes, having our own label, but more for the release of our own stuff. It is just hard work as it always was, but everything that happens as a result is much more rewarding. More importantly, we have so much more choice in what we do compared to when we were on a label before that it helps breathe so much more life into our creative lives, so much more. With that in mind, whilst we put time limits on ourselves to a point, our new album, for example, will really only come out when it’s ready. In that regard, and to even be working towards a 5th album – a point that not many bands get to at all – I’d say our own label is coming along nicely.

Talking about interviews: Piers, you said that after an album is made and you listen to it you find more and more mistakes that you can´t change which ultimately results in you not liking the album that much anymore. Is there one out of all your records that you are simply proud of? Mistakes and all…
I think without making an album sterile, every band will have mistakes on an album. It’s what makes us human. I think that statement was more to do with listening to an album – not really actually liking it less and less. Really, out of all our albums, the one right now that I would enjoy listening to the most, and that I am most proud of is The Cold Still, purely because of how we recorded it. I think we have better songs on Promises, but The Cold Still was all done live, warts and all. There are lots of shaky moments on there, that because of the way we did it, you learn to love a little bit. I still remember the feeling of going from having nothing recorded to having almost everything within the space of one take. It was an amazing feeling.
During all the years of touring that you´ve done is there one city or one venue you would not like to go back to?
We have been fortunate enough to play in so many towns and cities in lots of different countries. However big we get, I still think it’s amazing to go to a new place and find new people that want to go to see us play, and really like our music. Yes, some places are obviously nicer than others, but I don’t get all upset when we turn up in a town that might not be one of the best, or even have decent facilities – every country and town is different – the bottom line is we have never done a gig to no-one (far from it these days) and like I said, wherever it is, I still love seeing people show up to gigs. It would be wrong of me to think of a place that I’d rather not go. There is always something good to be taken from any place, whether that’s playing 10,000 people or 10 people, and the minute you lose that as a touring artist is when you might be tired of doing this.
I’ve just seen that there are 2 upcoming tour dates in Germany. Is that going to be some kind of mini tour or are you planning to go on the road more extensively?
For the time being, we are just going to be doing those two dates, as it’s really a short tour to get us into Scandinavia. We do plan to come back more extensively though as we really enjoyed being back in Germany last year.
Please tell us 5 things that the world probably doesn´t know about The Boxer Rebellion?
1) I play drums in my socks, no shoes.
2) Our favourite place we have visited as a band was Phillip Island, Australia.
3) We don’t like to sit with each other on flights.
4) We have played a song on stage with Ewan McGregor.
5) Our parents have never all been in the same room together.
Dankeschoen Piers!
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