Blackpool’s Boston Manor are about halfway through their North American tour with Moose Blood and Trophy Eyes when we catch up with them for a chat in the Music Hall of Williamsburg. The five-piece have been relentlessly touring for the last few years, building up a steady fan base in that time and making their names in the alternative rock world. Often labelled ‘pop-punk’, their music is more reminiscent of old-school pop punk that warrants that label these days. Think Brand New.
This tour has exceeded all expectations. Having finished a tour in the U.K. and Europe with Four Year Strong, Boston Manor are now about halfway their current jaunt stateside. Going from tour to tour is tiring, but nothing the band can’t handle. “We never don’t love it,” says singer Henry Cox. “People would be lying if they said they were never tired, there comes a time when you need a rest and sometimes you don’t want to just be sitting in a venue all day, but we absolutely love touring, so much.”
Moreover, the band are starting to see the fruits of their labour, with their time spent on the road really starting to pay off. By now, “every show is so fucking fun,” says Cox. “I just cannot wait to play a show every day. There have been so many points on this tour where we’re just like ‘look where we are, look what we’re doing’. We’ve been doing this for a few years so it’s not like it’s brand new to us but we still love it.”
Talking about the band’s inception, they can’t seem to totally agree when the Boston Manor actually started, but it’s been about four years. They all met each other through the scene in Blackpool, a scene that once encouraged and helped bands out. Guitarist Ash Wilson explains, “when we were in bands, there would be a show every week or even twice a week… then in about a year everything closed down, there was like, one venue left.”
Cox puts the change down to the restrictions placed on venues. “It was as soon as they started putting the all age shows to 18+. That’s when I started to notice the difference. Now there’s nothing.”
Bassist Dan Cunniff – who used to put on shows in the area – adds, “As soon as the general group of people in the music scene tried to put a show on, the council would always shut it down. You could basically only play a venue once or twice before having to move on and find another one.”
Cox agrees that the problem lies with the council, adding, “I’ve bashed the council quite a lot in interviews because they are the ones that should be supporting it. I firmly believe that it’s their fault that there’s no shows. They never nurtured it.”
Although said council does some other art projects such as Sand, Sea and Spray – an art festival revolving around street art in Blackpool, Boston Manor argue that these things are just for show, and they’re missing the real creativity. Cox asserts that it’s the “general grassroots creativity, basic things like music and having somewhere for kids to play music that they won’t support and they never have. It’s their fault. It’s all just old white men who don’t have any interest in anything like that, so they don’t care about it. We feel kind of bad because we feel like we gave up on it, because we were like ‘what’s the point?’. There’s a few cool little venues (such as Bootleg Social) but it’s 18+. Music venues rely on people ages 14-18. That’s where the passion is, that’s where it all bubbles up from. If that’s not there it doesn’t have any legs to stand on.” It's also nice to see that the band realise that it is young fans, who often get a bad rep, who are generally the ones who buy the music, buy the tickets and merch - and they are the ones getting left behind in this scenario.
Although Boston manor speak fondly about the music scene that they started out in, it’s clear that they are all disappointed with the way it has gone. They also discuss the ways in which their music has been able to reach people outside Blackpool, now that they have a wide-spread audience. The conversation turns to streaming sites like Spotify. Cox defends the medium. “100% it helps,” he says. “Every time I ask people how they’ve heard of us, especially from the U.S and Europe, most of them say through Spotify playlists.”
Wilson adds: “We keep getting added to cool playlists, we were added to a gym workout playlist the other day – that’s sick!”
Speaking about the criticisms, the band agree that the good outweighs the bad. “People whinge that it takes money out of bands,” Cox says. “But I firmly believe that the whole landscape of music has changed so that people wouldn’t know us if it wasn’t for things like Spotify. We would never have even had the chance to bring music to anyone, let alone make any money from it. We firmly owe our connection with fans to the internet, things like Bandcamp, Spotify and Facebook. So yeah no one makes money on music anymore but it’s allowed us to be in America doing what we’re doing.”
That being said, even when the band finish this tour in America, they’re back to more touring across the U.K. The next year is basically filled with touring for Boston Manor, coming back stateside during the summer. So how do the band stay amused on tour? Two words: Resistance and Dice. Now, the Resistance bit I’m aware of, but the “dice” bit needs a bit of explaining. Cox explains the game “You know when you see people in movies kneeled down on the street corner rolling dice? That’s that game. You have three dice, if you have two dice the same, whatever that third dice is is your score. The highest number wins the pot in the middle. Super simple. It’s a really fun way to lose shit tonnes of money.”
Cunniff agrees, “We lose loads of money playing dice.” A long discussion then ensues about what the biggest pot was at the end of the last tour, some saying it was nearly $400 others suggesting under $100. One of the reasons these games work is because there can be a lot of players, so all the bands Boston Manor meet can get involved. “I don’t think we’ve ever met a band we didn’t get on with,” Wilson says.
Boston Manor’s debut full-length album was released in September of 2016. Talking about ‘Be Nothing’, the band are clearly proud. “We were stoked,” Cox says. “We were building up to it for years. It was quite a cathartic experience putting it out. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves for that record.”
Boston Manor all write together, they wrote the album in guitarist Mike Cunniff’s house. They then recorded it with Neil Kennedy (Creeper, Milk Teeth) at The Ranch. They got it mixed by Kyle Black (New Found Glory, All Time Low, Paramore) and then it was mastered by Grant Berry. The reaction to the album was immediately positive, with fans in the U.K. and abroad learning the words in no time.
The success of ‘Be Nothing’ is not unwarranted, the gripping debut album shows a well-rounded band ready to take the scene by storm. On top of this, the five piece are amongst the most down-to-earth bands out there. Clearly happy to be doing what they’re doing, Boston Manor deserve all the success that the second half of 2017 is sure to bring them.