Words: Miljan Milekić
I became a fan of Boston Manor around the release of their EP ‘Saudade’ back in 2015. Their lyrics, their energy, and their attention to detail made me love them. In the next few years, the band continued to evolve, from a melodic hardcore band to a genre-blending machine, and a household name in venues all around the world. This September, Boston Manor unleashed ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood,’ one of the best records this year, so we needed to talk about it. We caught up with singer Henry Cox, so check it out below.
Your new record is finally out. How does it feel to finally hold it in your hands, and do you have any feedback by now?
Henry: It feels great; so much work went into it, and it’s great to finally be able to share it with the world. The feedback has been great, people have been really nice about the record, which is more than we could have ever hoped for.
I first discovered your band after ‘Saudade,’ and instantly got hooked. Three years after, the band that delivered one of the best hardcore/post-hardcore releases of 2015 is back with one of the best alternative records of 2018. What inspired your development in sound from the beginning, to ‘Be Nothing,’ to ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood?’
Henry: Thank you man, it’s been a slow process really, sharing and discovering new music, trying different things, and sort of, deciding there’s no rule book. We knew we wanted the next album to be heavier but once we started delving into some of our more eclectic influences that’s when the record started to take shape.
On this record, you worked with Mike Sapone who was involved in many different projects. How much did work with him influenced the writing and recording process? Also, you were quite isolated during the recording itself, do you think that fact also affected the record in some way?
Henry: All of these things definitely factored into the way the record turned out. Sapone was amazing and gave us the confidence to throw caution to the wind and take some creative risks. Obviously, he was integral to the recording process himself, that’s all him.
‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ is quite different, but despite all the changes in the sound, it still has the same vibe and the same tension your previous work has. How hard was it for you to walk that thin line of constantly growing and evolving while staying true to yourself?
Henry: I think that must just be a part of who we are – at no point did we consciously try to sew the two together. I think those common factors are just down to us as musicians and how we play. At the end of the day, we’re at a stage now where we only have an interest in satisfying our own creative whim, chasing the ideas, and seeing what happens.
Lyrically, the new record offers so much. Being a concept record, telling a story, do you ever feel like ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ can become more than a piece of music, expanding to other art forms, possibly to a movie or a book?
Henry: I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it to be honest! It’s not directly a concept record, but I think it’s loose enough that anyone could take that and interpret it in any way they wanted. We love collaborating so I think it’d be something interesting to see.
The new record brings a story of an alternative, fictional version of your hometown – Blackpool. However, is it really that much of fiction? How similar your Blackpool is to a real one or any other town with a similar geographical or industrial position anywhere in the world?
Henry: That quote got taken out of context, it’s really not fictional at all. Elements of it are exaggerated or symbolic – I’ve never been a heroin addict – but it’s very much the way it is. And yeah, I think there are a million towns like it that are in a similar position economically and socially.
From the artwork to the music videos, you put a lot of effort into the visual aspect of ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood,’ helping the fans to dig deeper into the record, and taste it in its full flavor. Do you think your experience in cinematography made you especially sensitive to a visual aspect of the band, but also turned you into looking at albums as a concept, rather than simply a song collections?
Henry: I like to think so, I definitely enjoy developing the whole visual side of the album, but it was also a group endeavor. We’re all big fans of films, some of us are photographers and artists, so that side of things does come quite naturally to us. I think it helps people immerse themselves in the world you’re trying to create.
In the past few years, the UK faced many big decisions, with Brexit being one of the biggest. How do you look at it, as a touring musician, but also as an artist, and someone who is not a politician, but still is involved in day-to-day events inside British society?
Henry: I hate it, it was a stupid idea. The British general public was hoodwinked; hopefully, they learn from their mistakes, but I doubt it.
You scream your lungs out day after day about the problems in this society and everything that’s wrong in the world right now, but it seems like you’re one of the rare in your generation. For me, it seems like many, too many, young people don’t care about anything, and just go with the flow. Personally, I see that as a really dangerous thing. Would you agree? What do you think is a reason for that, and how to fight it?
Henry: Absolutely, this is what the record in its essence is about; we’re too complacent, we want everything, we want it now, but we don’t really value any of it. I think Social Media and consumer capitalism has played a huge part in it. I can’t say I know what the answer to this problem is, but having conversations like this is definitely a start.
As an artist, do you feel some kind of obligation to do be vocal about the issues, and do you feel that, apart from the underground, there are not nearly as enough musicians and artists who will raise their voices, and stand for what they believe in?
Henry: It’s a tough one this, and I go back and forth in my head with it a lot. We do have a platform, but my opinions are no less valid than anyone else’s. I am by no means an expert, and to be honest, the internet is just filled with people screaming their opinions into the void. Is another voice going to make any difference? I don’t know, maybe.
So, if things in society ever get better, do you think it will be the time Boston Manor will start writing happy music, or stop existing as a band?
Henry: (laughs) I don’t think I know how! Yeah, we’d probably have to call it a day.
I said earlier that I discovered Boston Manor with ‘Saudade,’ your first release with Pure Noise, who are you still working with. How would you describe work with them and their help in your growth as a band?
Henry: They’re great, real music fans and good people. They’ve been integral to our growth, especially in the US. I think their roster speaks for itself, so many cool bands; we’re very proud to be a part of that.
Speaking of Pure Noise, you collaborated with another amazing artist from the label – Lizzy Farrall. How was it to be involved in someone else’s work, and how was it to work with Lizzy?
Henry: It was great! Lizzy is awesome; we had a lot of fun shooting that video. I love collaborating with other artists; the video thing is just a passion really, that’s why I do it!
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