Answering the phone with a simple “hello,” and a few pleasantries, Henry Cox of the Blackpool, England based band, Boston Manor quickly eased his way into a 15-minute conversation about the band’s latest album and their prep for the coming months of tour.
It’s been a pretty hectic few months for the five-piece, to say the least. As you may recall, the group released their second full-length album, Welcome To The Neighbourhood, back in September of 2018 and since then, they’ve been on the road supporting the record while also writing for their third.
As if that wasn’t enough, the band (at the time of publication) will be on the road supporting Movements on their spring tour; and then shortly after that set of dates wrap up, they’ll then be doing a string of shows with A Day To Remember.
It’s a chaotic time, sure, but that doesn’t seem to be a bother for the band.
But before we go into the band’s preparations for their current round of touring, it was important to bring it back to the fall of 2018 where their journey really picked up. Which, is all thanks to their emotionally-charged and different to anything they’ve done before second album, Welcome To The Neighbourhood.
The album serves as a follow-up to their debut release, 2016’s Be Nothing, and with a sense of freedom caused by the band’s newfound ability to experiment on the second LP, they haven’t looked back since.
It’s a stepping stone release that the band’s vocalist Henry Cox attributes to putting them on the map, so to speak, and below, you can read the interview with the group during their prep for their upcoming tour dates.
You recently put out Welcome To The Neighbourhood, and it’s definitely a change up from like your past releases. Was the change a conscious decision you had when making the album?
I think so. It had been a long time since we’d written the first album, there’s quite a big gap between those two records, and I think over the course of that sort of three-year period, we decided the kind of music we wanted to make.
We kind of subconsciously had been drifting towards that anyway. Like we were playing our old songs heavier alive and you know, we [were] experimenting with all these different influences. So, when we came to actually make the record, it was kind of already laid out what we wanted to do.
When you say you experimented with new influences, was there anything, in particular, you guys wanted to do on this record that you haven’t gotten to in the past?
Well, I guess experimenting was the whole idea really; it was like a really creative process and we worked with this producer called Mike Sapone on this record. When we were talking to different producers, who were looking at working with, on the kind of things that we wanted to do; it was very much in his lane. We looked to bands like Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and Aphex Twin; and all this kind of like weirder stuff in terms of synths and samples and a lot of what we wanted to experiment with. We just wanted to make a really big heavy guitar record at the end of the day and he had a lot of ideas and he’s a big fan of a lot of music anyway and his world is programming, sampling and synths, so he brought a lot of core stuff to the table with that.
But yeah, we wrote the record, we went and demoed in the studio in New Jersey and then we came back at Christmas time after a tour and we kind of decided that it still wasn’t the record that we wanted to make, so we went back, rewrote about half of the songs again and then we went to the studio in I think February or January of last year. And then we tracked it for about a month and a bit and every day we were just kind of trying different things and find a lot of the sounds that came out on the record were purely just from mistakes that we liked and kept. So it was just kind of experimentation and it was a really enjoyable process.
As for the general theme of the album I got the vibe that you guys went a little deeper, and maybe even a little darker, with the lyrical content. If that is the case, what was going through your head when you were coming up with the lyrics and crafting the theme to the album?
I mean it’s quite a time and place kind of thing. The last two years [were] pretty insane globally. We saw a lot of the world in those two years and we saw a lot of things that were indicative of what was going on in the wider world and then we came home and we saw all that stuff at home, sometimes even worse, so the album is just about that really. We used our hometown as a bit of a metaphor for the wider world being the neighborhood and the kind of state that it’s in.
So yeah, it’s quite an angry record because I think any young person in 2018, as it was at the time or even now in 2019, you have a lot to be angry about. But yeah, I think that there’s definitely a central theme so we kind of went in there knowing that we’ll get a write an album about that.
Were there any fears you had when putting out a record that was a little different to what you’ve released before? And what has the audience reaction to this record?
I mean there’s always fear. I’ve never for a second thought that it was the wrong thing to do; like we didn’t really care, we were just like ‘we just want to make the record that we want to make.’ But I think definitely the week before the record comes out we call the record comes out, you’re kind of like “I hope you like it.’
It’s been really well received, you know, it kind of put us on the map a little bit, I suppose. We sort of reestablished ourselves as a different band. We came from a pop-punk world and now in our own world, which I think is cool. But yeah, it’s been great. I mean now we have to follow it up, which is a little bit nerve-wracking I think because I think the first album, no one really knew us was around that time, so we, it was almost, when we released the second album, it was kind of like our first album in a way. I don’t think it would have been dramatically damaging to our career if loads of people hadn’t liked it, you know? Just because I don’t think that we had any expectations to meet. But fortunately, people seem to like it so we’re happy. That’s always a bonus.
How has it been playing like the songs live? Has it translated well from the album to an actual live setting?
Yeah, I think it’s kind of weird because it has. But then the songs that you thought would be a big live song that isn’t so much and then the songs you thought were just like an album track [are the ones that] resonates with the audience and that becomes a crowd favorite and you play that one live and I think that’s sick.
I think once you release an album in the world, it’s kind of not your property anymore. So, it’s cool to see what has translated and what hasn’t in a sense of a live aspect.
This is going to be a tour-heavy summer for you guys. Not only do you have the Movements tour coming up, but you also have a supporting run with A Day To Remember almost directly after that, how has the prep been for those shows? Are you excited to get back out on the road?
Yeah, can’t wait. We love touring America as well, and these are two really good tours. We’re actually going home in between to do Slamdunk festival, but it’s only like a two-week gap between both, so it’s going to be pretty nonstop. Well, this whole year is going to be a pretty crazy year, I think.
But yeah, it’s been great. I mean as far as prep goes, we’re never not playing and writing. We don’t really book in to do like a practice [or go into the studio] because we’re just always together every day playing, writing and all that, you know?
And what about the sets? How are you approaching what songs you’ll be playing for each tour?
Well, I think with the Movements tour – [we played together at Warped Tour, and I think] there’s a few bands, us and Movements included in that crop of bands, that sort of built a bit of a scene together, which is cool, so I think we have a lot of similar fans. A lot of people at these shows have seen both of our bands before, so for that tour, we want to throw in some songs that we haven’t played in America before. Because there’s going to be some people that it’s like their fifth, sixth Boston Manor show so we want to kind of give them something different.
With the A Day To Remember tour, you know, it’s going to be some really big shows and we’re excited to get out there and introduce a lot of people to our band that have never heard of us before. And we’ve got a short set if I’m not mistaken, so [those sets will primarily be like] get out there, play your best songs and really grab people’s attention in the time that you have.
That’s all of my questions, I guess my last would be does Boston Manor have any future plans fans can get excited over during the course of this year?
Well, we’re in the studio right now working on new music; and we’re touring all year, we’re going everywhere this year and next, so no plans for a break just yet!