The Boxer Rebellion – Interview
I caught up with Piers Hewitt from The Boxer Rebellion fresh from the morning’s practice in their London rehearsal rooms ahead of their new upcoming UK tour, their first in three years.
What have The Boxer Rebellion been up to lately?
We’ve all had a little bit of time off for Christmas so we’ve been spending time with our families and preparing for the New Year and the new tour. We’ve been running through some old songs today, some of which we’ve not played live for years. We’re looking at hopefully doing some shows to play through our entire back-catalogue this year so we’re just remembering the songs really but it’s good to see how the songs develop over time.
Why haven’t you been touring much in the UK over the last few years?
When we first started and were signed to a major label, we toured the UK six times in a year and a half and it was pretty intense. You kind of get fed up of staying in a different Travelodge every night and it was very hard work. We’re all a bit older now and have our families to think of so that sort of mad touring schedule is unlikely to be replicated in the future! We finished our latest album Promises in 2013 and have spent a lot of time getting that ready for touring and are looking forward to taking it around the country and returning to Brighton’s Coalition, a venue we played as part of the Great Escape Festival a few years ago.
Tell us about the new album. Was there any theme throughout unifying it?
The album was written to sound rather than lyrics. We were just making the music that was what we all liked and then adding lyrics was something that happened towards the end of the process. We all wrote little parts of songs and then pieced them together. For a few of the tracks I played a drum loop for a part of the song and then it developed from there. There was a point in the studio back in January where we were due to record the album the next week and I realised that I’d not actually played through all the tracks all the way through. That was quite a scary feeling but it was good to get it all down.
The production of the album is very smooth. Did you have much of a role working with the producer?
The producer was actually brought in quite late in the day. I think our arrangements were good, you just sometimes need a 5th head from outside the band to say “yeah that sounds great” or “maybe you could try this?” We recorded most of the record at our studio in London which we’d hired out full time, but then went to LA to re-record most of it, which gave us a better overall sound, especially the drums.
Is there any significance to the album artwork? Was it taken by somebody that you know?
We kind of stumbled across the image – it wasn’t taken by anyone that we knew. I like the beautiful nature of the image, how clear the sky is and that there is nothing in the man’s way to stop him from what is about to happen. I think we can all identify with the feeling of that guy, the sense of release and bravery – we always try to be brave with our music. If it’s not brave and exciting then how can we expect the audiences to get into it.
Have you ever done much stripped back acoustic stuff and if you were to go on Live Lounge what cover would you choose?
When we were touring in the US there was a lot of opportunities for radio appearances, most of which wanted us to do a live stripped back version of one of our songs so we did it. As a general rule I’m not too keen on acoustic versions of tracks, because you spend a lot of time crafting the sound of the song and that all changes totally when it’s acoustic and parts are dropped. A few years back we did a good version of Enjoy The Silence by Depeche Mode and that seemed to go down very well, particularly in Europe, so we kept that in our live set for a year or so.
In terms of a cover, it’s so hard to choose. I can only think of a handful of acoustic covers that I really like. I think the cover of Teardrop by Elbow is fantastic. They could have released it as a big single but they didn’t. I think we’d cover something like Regret by New Order.
If you had a day free to spend in Brighton what would you do?
I think if I had a day off I’d probably spend the morning playing golf, then maybe go bowling with the guys and then head to the pub. These are all the sorts of things that I do with my time off anyway but with a family it’s pretty hard to fit everything in. I guess we’ve grown up quite a bit since we started. It would sort of be like some kind of lame stag party. That’s us!
Finally, if you could have a boxing fight with anybody famous who would it be?
Wow, that’s a tough one. Firstly, I’ve never hit anyone before so it would have to be for charity, so that somebody is getting something out of it! Hmm, even though we met the guys and they were great I think it would have to be Hanson. Not like the young Hanson, but like when they were old enough to take it. I’m quite competitive so if I was going to fight I’d like to pick someone who I think I could win against!
The Boxer Rebellion’s new album Promises is out now. They are performing at Brighton’s Coalition on Tuesday 4th February. Tickets available here.