Late July saw HMV make a groundbreaking step forward in the world of the music retailer. Having paid interest in the multi-national The Boxer Rebellion, they retailer stepped forward to help with promotional and production costs of the groups much-awaited second album Union. Having been signed way back in 2003, after a sensational reception at Glastonbury, The Boxer Rebellion have had a rocky ride in the business that is show. However, the band’s sheer determination has seen them through and Union is the fruit of four years hard work. HMV clearly think the product was well worth the wait, but now it is time to see if the public agree. zap! bang! took a moment to talk to lead singer, guitarist and keyboard played Nathan Nicholson about the long and winding road that has lead to such a monumental collaboration.
For those who don’t know of you, can you tell us something about yourself…
I’m an American in London. I’ve lived here just under 10 years and in the band for most of it. I’m also a Pisces.
How did The Boxer Rebellion form?
We all randomly meet in London in 2000-2001. I was over studying and Todd had just moved over from Adelaide. He posted on a musicians wanted message board and I was the only one to respond.
Why did you take a 4 year break between albums?
Basically we had to take our time because money was fairly scarce and we were all working part-time.
The Boxer Rebellion have made history by teaming up with HMV for the release, how did this come about?
It all started with HMV in Canada. They contacted us really just to ask about where our physical album was. Because we didn’t have the funds to manufacture any they offered their services and thus began our working relationship. They’ve been very good to us.
Do you think the move will pave the way for other bands to follow suit?
Possibly. Hopefully it’ll show new bands that there are a variety of avenues in which to release music. The internet has also been very good for us.
How are songwriting duties shared in the group?
Usually I’ll bring in a chord progression and a melody and the other guys will rip it into shape. They are hard to please, so most of it never sees the light of day.
How has your sound developed as the group has matured?
I think a lot more ideas now do not get used because we are trying to better ourselves. Having played together for many years now, we are much more polished and with it so our sound has become bigger and more throughout.
Who are the band’s shared influences?
I’d be lying if I did not say Radiohead, but The National, Interpol, etc. We tend to dig music that we have to put some time into. Usually music that isn’t with some substance that grows.
It all started with HMV in Canada.
Was a music career always your end goal?
Within the band it very much was and still is. It requires too much time and effort to just mark this up as a hobby. Personally, I always had this in mind though during high school, but I kept that thought to myself.
What inspired your hidden ambition?
When I was around the age of 15 I was heavily into British music. I loved most things about Britpop and that inspired me to start writing songs and eventually making the move to England.
What first got you all into making music?
Songwriting and groupies, though I can’t leave out the class A’s! I remember always wanting to impress girls at school talent shows, but obviously that never happened.
The record was independently financed, how difficult was the journey to its release?
Things were not necessarily difficult we just had to bide our time for awhile until something worthwhile came along.
Do you feel that the move allowed more creative freedom?
Certainly. We are ultimately just trying to please ourselves and it’s great avoiding the unlimited dross that can come from a label.
The support slot with The Killers fell through to illness, would you hope to revisit that opportunity one day?
Of course. I think we would always consider the opportunity to play in front loads of people.
Late nights in a dark studio brings out the creative hermit in me.
Who have been the best tour mates?
We are good friends with Editors and have embarked on quite a few shows with them. They have done very well for themselves which has been great for us to witness. I also think their audience get us more than most. It is amazing how often bands are put on a bill together that don’t make sense.
If you could pick any band to support you, who would they be?
Metallica of course, though I’m not sure what our fans would make of it. Maybe we could take their shrink on tour with us.
Do you prefer the live or recorded experience?
I’m probably the only one in the band, but I love recording and writing. It’s great to see songs coming to life. That’s my favourite part of the whole process. Late nights in a dark studio brings out the creative hermit in me.
Where do you hope The Boxer Rebellion will be a year from now?
In Vegas at a proper casino. Last night we were at a tiny joint in Manchester, but I’d like to step it up a notch. I visited Las Vegas as a pre-teen, but all I won were some stuffed dinosaurs.
Union is released on September 14th on Boxer Rebellion. For more information visit their official site.