The Boxer Rebellion - Nedda Muted Fawn

Photo by Nedda Afsari/ Muted Fawn

‘Perseverance is the key’ once told us THE BOXER REBELLION in an interview back in 2014. And we couldn’t think of a better credo for the British four-piece who managed to successfully kept going for almost 15 years now. They’ve always been on their own, a true independent band who managed to constantly build up a loyal fanbase all over the world. They keep walking their own path and the forthcoming fifth studio LP Ocean By Ocean truly marks the next step for the band around distinctive singer Nathan Nicholson.

Not only will the new album introduce a slightly different sound to the fans of THE BOXER REBELLION, it will also mark the musical debut of guitarist Andrew Smith who joined the band back in 2014. ‘He was literally the only guitarist we approached,’ explains Nathan to us when we met him and Andrew for a small talk. ‘I met the band though a songwriter called Christof when he asked me to join him on tour, supporting the band,’ explains Andrew the way he got his new job. It seemed like a natural match and might also explain why Ocean By Ocean sounds so strong, focussed and cohesive unlike no other BOXER REBELLION release so far. They still believe in the power of the album as Andrew tells us: ‘The technical purpose of the album is pretty much extinct but the concept is still quite huge and important to many artists,’ he explains while also being realistic about the fact that there is simply no necessity for the majority of people to own any albums. Thank god, they still think different.

Great seeing Norman from @nbhap in Berlin today! He brought the collection. NN

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Ocean By Ocean could easily be the long overdue game changer in the career of the British indie rock group, so we thought it might be a fitting moment to have Nathan and Andrew reflect on their own past and share some memories regarding the five albums that already exist while also naming their favourite tracks from it.

‘Exits’ (2005)

The Boxer Rebellion - Exits - Artwork

‘The first thing I notice about this one is that we changed the colour over the years because the white cover always looked really cheap to me. So we switched over to the black one over the years. It was probably the most time we spent writing on an album ’cause we’ve been together as a band for that long back then. It’s way heavier and rougher than our later work. We still recall that energy during our shows but things always sound heavier when you play them live. That’s a natural thing. I don’t see the point in going back to a place where I need to shout my lungs out like I did on this one. It would feel a bit fake to me to visit this place again. It’s just not me anymore.’ (Nathan)

‘We did a couple of shows in London, not long after I joined the band in 2014. We played the first two albums in their entirety on one night. I had to learn every song in about three months which was a good starting point for me. That’s my main memory regarding this album.’ (Andrew)

Favourite Song: We Have This Place Surrounded  

‘Union’ (2009)

The Boxer Rebellion - Union - Artwork

‘The second LP happened after a few troubled years. Well, those times weren’t tough in the scale of everyday human life. We kind of had to work as hard on this as we could. We still considered ourselves a professional band although we clearly weren’t because we didn’t make any money out of this. Every time we thought we can’t go that way anymore something came along, a sort of ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ thing.’

‘We recorded and mixed the album back in 2007 but it didn’t come out until 2009 so we’ve been sitting on this for ages. It changed a lot when we were approached by iTunes back then who were fans of our music. We were almost pioneers with that, also thanks to a loyal fanbase. We knew that when we announced ‘Union’ back then that there would be people who were willing to buy it. It’s kind of normal to have this fanbase today before you can put out a successful album.’ (Nathan)

Favourite Songs: Soviets (Nathan), Evacuate (Andrew)

‘The Cold Still’ (2011)

The Boxer Rebellion - Cold Still - Artwork

‘Before that LP we were part of the indie flick ‘Going The Distance’ were we played ourselves as a band and performed a few songs. It wasn’t a big hit but it helped us well enough, I must say. We had great experiences and made good friendships back then. It’s kind of good that it wasn’t a huge blockbuster or otherwise we would have been known as being ‘The band from that movie’. We recorded The Cold Still at The Real World Studios of PETER GABRIEL. ELBOW’s Guy Garvey was also around that time which was quite surreal. Peter even came around, listened to the album and was kind of cool. The studio’s in the middle of the countryside in the Western part of England. It’s one of those places you can’t really leave which was a weird experience. Guy was there for a week to write lyrics for the next ELBOW record, so we had lunch and dinner almost every day which was fun. He’s such a sweet lad.’  (Nathan)

Favourite Songs: No Harm (Nathan), Step Out Of The Car (Andrew)

‘Promises’ (2013)

The Boxer Rebellion - Promises

‘Even more than on ‘The Cold Still’ we felt that we arrived at where we want to be with this album. We changed the way we write song prior to this one, so that an impact. We got our own studio with own tools by then which also helped. It felt a bit as if we were at place, even after Todd decided to leave the band following the release and first touring for the album We were quite confident on continuing after his departure. Still, it were big shows to fill. Todd has a good ear for things which always helped us.’ (Nathan)

‘Joining a band that already played together for over a decade is a pretty unique experience, I must say. The whole thing went really smooth. I had a few weeks warning before I played the first show. But I own those old songs respect and that also counts for the fans. It was a good point to get to know each other before we started writing the new LP together. It was a long process and that really helped me.’ (Andrew)

Favourite Song: Diamonds

‘Ocean By Ocean’ (2016)

The Boxer Rebellion - Ocean By Ocean

‘It sounds quite positive although there’s still a bit space for life’s sadder moments. You have to experience sadness to really appreciate happiness. The album’s final track, ‘Let It Go’, is about these things. It’s about realising how many great things can happen in life. Any no matter how good things are I also tend to focus a lot on the bad aspects so even I need so motivate myself on changing this. Still, we wanted it to sound way more colourful than previous albums which also explains the artwork, created by comic book artist and illustrator Trevor McCarthy. This new album felt so easy and such a pleasure to make. It almost feels as if it’s a taboo to enjoy recording your albums but we really did have a good time. Running the band is still a bit struggle today as we never got to a point where we announce a tour and it sells out within a few minutes. But on the other hand it’s not such a big struggle anymore as we are able to continue to play and we record in a way we’d like to.’ (Nathan)

 ‘At the start it wasn’t as free flowing for me as it later became. But that’s the time it takes. Later we found a direction we were satisfied with. When we wrote the album’s opener ‘Weapon’ we got that immediate sort that it sounds like the 80s. We could almost picture the images to it. Quite ‘Miami Vice’-like. And all the other songs we wrote after this one kept that same atmosphere, resulting in the sound this album got in the end. It even inspired other songs we recorded earlier in our sessions. There’s definitely a lot of positivity and optimism wrapped up in this album and we can’t wait for you to hear it.’ (Andrew)

Favourite Songs: Let It Go (Nathan), Pull Yourself Together (Andrew)

Ocean By Ocean will be released on April 29.