Are you still frothing Boston Manor’s brilliant album GLUE? I sure am (our review here) so I caught a hold of their frontman and vocalist Henry Cox for what was a wonderful and lengthy chat about the album. They’ve really taken a dive into uncharted territory, branched out and made some exciting tunes, and to release an album during this uncertain time of the COVID-19 pandemic, well, props!
Have a read as we chat about pushing boundaries, Henry’s favourite song on GLUE and how we can all contribute to a change that will benefit the world.
Henry! Big congrats on releasing an album in such difficult times, and such a great album at that! How did you all celebrate while in isolation?
Thank you very much! We just got on a zoom call and had a few beers, really. That’s the most you can do unfortunately, but it was good fun. We did do a live stream event at about 11pm UK time right before it came out so we were all on that and we just stayed on and drank a few beers. And we started ordering stuff from – have you ever been on that site called Wish?
Yes, oh that’s dangerous!
We started ordering each other presents from Wish to celebrate!
I did watch your album listening party and I think it was a really great idea. Would you have done that even if we weren’t all isolating?
I don’t know! Initially what we were going to do, which I’m very sad that it didn’t work, we had an art show planned. It was going to be over a week, be free for fans and was going to double as a listening party. So we’d just play the record the whole time and fans could come and we would’ve had a lot of original artwork from us and people we collaborated with a lot like our photographers that we work with and Benjamin Lieber who did the artwork. We were going to have some installations and some art from fans and stuff, obviously that didn’t work but I think this [live stream] was still a really cool event and way more people got involved than would’ve been able to get involved if it was just a specifical type thing. We might do it more often.
It’s really hard to pick a favourite because they’re all so different but all so awesome, why did you want to expand the edges of Boston Manor’s sound and push yourselves a bit more?
I think we’re always trying to do that. I listen to music every day all day, no matter whether it’s quarantine or we’re on tour, I just listen to music for about eight hours a day. And I’m always trying to find new things that inspire me and things I’m interested in that educate me musically. And I feel like it’s harder when you get older to find music; you can find a lot of music that you like but it’s really hard to find music that’s special to you in your heart. And I had that a lot as a kid, you’d discover that one band or that one artist and it would just fucking blow the doors off for you. And I think part of that is just that there’s so much music now so you really have to kind of cut through the noise a bit more. You can’t blame people because there’s so much music and it’s all free, so an artist has to really do something that resonates with you personally in order for them to stay in your rotation really.
But we are all trying to challenge ourselves and write music that inspires us, and that’s all it came down to. We wanted to make music that we thought was wicked, and I’m really happy that we did that. I was listening to a podcast this morning and they were reviewing the album, cause I’m a bit narcissistic like that (laughs), and it was really interesting cause he was really confused by the four singles that we put out, and then when he heard the record it really conceptualised the singles and I think that’s really cool. I never really thought about it that way and I think the songs across the record really are quite different but they do fit into a tracklisting. And I never really thought about it at the time but it must’ve seemed, not jarring, but a bit weird how different they were and the order they came out in.
With each release you grow and evolve and your music tastes change. Does that mean you look back on your past albums and wish you’d done something differently or it’s more of a ‘cool this is where we came from and this is where we are now’ kind of thing?
I listen back to our really early stuff and I cringe a lot, but we were a totally different band and different people and we didn’t have – me least of all – experience with song writing. We’d all been in bands, but you know I’m a singer so I don’t do much or didn’t used to do that much other than write the vocals, so when it comes to arrangement and structure and melody with every release I’ve been learning. And I’m still learning loads, I feel like I’m just at the beginning of my personal journey as a song writer, but I think all of us are really just starting to hit our stride now.
The day our new record came out I listened to our first album and I still think there are some good moments on that record. We were a very different band with that album, an entirely different band and I don’t even know if we play any of the songs live any more cause it just feels a bit weird. Even lyrically it’s just from a different time. I’m still very fond of that album but I think without it we wouldn’t have had the opportunities in America and even Australia, and I don’t know if we’d be where we are without it. I think it’s important not to dwell on the past, though, to keep looking forward and to enjoy the present more.
Speaking lyrically, you said that ‘Terrible Love’ is your favourite and that lyrically you were really honest and personal, which you try not to be all the time. Why was now the right time to be a bit more open with yourself and mental health?
That’s a really good question! I don’t know, really, I think I had a lot of stuff I really needed to get out. I think it was all bottled up inside me a little bit. It was at a time where we were at the toughest point of our career as a band we were really struggling; we were in a low place and under a lot of pressure. I think with ‘Terrible Love’ I felt a bit more comfortable, we’d written a good batch of songs already and I knew that this track wasn’t dictating the theme of the record. I didn’t feel pressure for this to fit into the whole album in terms of its lyrics, its theme and its flow, I knew that this was going to be a ‘me’ song, which kind of made it a lot easier. And I started putting together these lyrics and I really liked them, I still do and I think they’re the best lyrics on the record. Once I’d written everything down, how I was feeling all these different thoughts and started to put them into a more poetic way for speaking, it was really easy like a jigsaw puzzle.
There are so many messages in GLUE to make you think about the state of the world, what do you want people to be doing to contribute to change in general?
It’s hard isn’t it, so much to do in so little time. I think the wider problem is the polarisation, that ‘it’s everyone else’s fault but mine’, and ‘I’m right and everyone else is wrong because I read something on the internet somewhere’. That’s a big problem and what that’s done is the Left, who were always a fairly reasonable bunch (so to speak), have now become really quite irrational and aggressive. And it’s launched this lynch mob of cancel culture in terms of if you have a political opinion let’s say, or you vote for this guy. Then it’s all ‘fuck you and everything you think is incorrect, you don’t deserve any respect and I’m not going to listen to your opinion – you’re now void’ is the attitude we now have and you can’t tune people out like that, it doesn’t work.
And the reason that Trump was elected is because people wanted a change. People were sick of feeling like they weren’t represented in politics, they were just sort of left out and didn’t get to have any say over their country, and they wanted a change. I am by no means a Trump supporter, I think it’s an absolute travesty that he’s in power, but a lot of people voted for him for valid reasons. And the Left immediately, and I’ll put my hand up and say I did too initially, blanketed everyone who voted for Trump as a bigot and idiot, which isn’t true. And the thing is when you do that – if you’re getting called a bigot and an idiot for your political decision – you start to think ‘oh fuck, they’re right he’s a moron, I didn’t realise what I was voting for’. Whether you think that or not, if someone is calling you a moron and a racist and saying your opinion doesn’t matter it’s just going to make you dig your heels in further. All it’s going to make you do is blindly continue to follow this bad decision you’ve made or lash out against the other person.
So what I think we need to do is to listen to people more and to challenge our own opinions a bit more and say ‘well, why are people voting for this guy?’ or ‘why are people deciding to say that climate change is a hoax?’ If you don’t like something you can pretend that it’s silly and that’s a way of getting round things in your own head. So I think communication is really important and we need to kind of descale these weird structures that we’ve built up online because all it’s doing is creating tribalism in a really bad way. I really don’t have all the answers but I am trying to be more open minded and not jump to conclusions, and I’m trying to challenge my own biases as well.
Wow, what a good answer! But what about you, what are you getting up to in isolation? Are you diving deeper into music or are you getting into a diy project?
I’m writing songs every day and I have been since Christmas pretty much. I’m literally just writing and writing and writing, and I’m loving it! I’m really enjoying it although I am missing gigs. Now that the record’s out I’m itching to get out there and play shows, it’s kind of killing me. But no I’ve just been chilling with my girlfriend and my dog and making a lot of music which is cool, and just trying to teach myself things and be productive, you know.
Wonderful! Well hopefully this all clears up soon and you guys can get touring and then come down to Australia! We’d love to see you and celebrate the album.
Yeah, we had an Australian tour in the works for this year but obviously that’s not happening, which is a real shame, but I’m really hoping we can get over there in 2021. We had the best time when we came over in 2018, it was so much fun. I love Australia, I love Aussies and I love going over there in our winter and your summer cause it feels like you’re cheating, you get an extra bit of summer. It’s great.
Interview by Ebony Story
Grab your copy of GLUE right here!
Boston Manor – GLUE tracklisting
1. Everything is Ordinary
2. 1’S & 0’S
3. Plasticine Dreams
4. Terrible Love
6. On A High Ledge
7. You Me & The Class War
8. Playing God
9. Brand New kids
11. Stuck In The Mud
12. Liquid feat. John Floreani