Gino DePinto, AOL London-based indie rockers the Boxer Rebellion is excited to…
- Posted on Feb 8th 2011 2:00PM by Dan Reilly
Gino DePinto, AOL
Now they're primed for an even bigger 2011 with the release of their third LP, 'The Cold Still,' which was produced by Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon, Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne). Spinner recently caught up with frontman Nathan Nicholson to discuss the new album, the pressure of being named "an artist to watch" and how things have changed since their cinematic debut.
This album seems a little mellower than 'Union.' What do you think are the main differences?
I would say it's a bit more laidback. I don't know why that is. We never set out to have some grand design. I remember before 'Union,' we were all listening to a lot of Massive Attack and the album didn't really have anything electronic whatsoever. Whenever we have an end goal, it never ends up that way. We just think we've progressively learned to go with the flow, see how it turns out on its own.
Why did you name the album 'The Cold Still'?
It's more of the feeling of the phrase. There's a lyric the last song on the album, 'Doubt,' "the cold still of night." In my mind, I picture the cold still of night -- you're in a forest, you can hear the wind and there's the trees. It was just that eerie picture. It's not the happiest thought but I wouldn't call it a sad album or a depressing album.
Gino DePinto, AOL
We're doing it all ourselves, so I guess it's easy in that way. There's a lot of hurdles you have to get through that I guess if you're signed you just leave it to the label, but we're effectively our own label team. You've got to have a bit more of a clue of what's going on. I thought I was doing this just to do music but it turns out you have to have some wits about you and knowledge of business.
Why did you bring Ethan Johns in to produce this album?
'Union' we did all by ourselves with an engineer. We had done some demos for the movie we wrote a song for and one of the songs, 'Both Sides Are Even,' ended up being in album contention. We had done a demo for it kind of the same way we had done 'Union.' We realized we wanted to kind of broaden our horizons a little bit -- otherwise it was just going to sound exactly like 'Union.' We wanted to get someone else to help us out and we got Ethan Johns because he was the only one we all wanted to work with.
He had this clarity in his mixes and production and it's just really refreshing, really pleasant on the ears. We all loved the first three Kings of Leon albums, before they went a bit pop, when they were still doing a bit more interesting stuff, to me at least -- that probably sounds like I'm slagging them off. And then Ryan Adams' 'Heartbreak' and Ray LaMontagne's first three albums that Ethan did. There's just a great sound to it all and it's really personal while being big. That's the reason we chose him.
How did having that extra opinion in the mix affect the sessions?
It was good because since we all respected Ethan so much. When we would have some idea and he thought it was crap, he'd tell us that's a crap idea. He didn't really beat around the bush. We were the screenwriters, he was the director, so he interpreted what we were writing, in a way. We recorded most of it live, which was something we had never done before. We enjoyed every minute of it.
It was Ethan's idea [to track it live] but we wanted that as well. He does that on a regular basis. He's kind of old-school in the sense that you do it to tape, not computers. You press play and hope for the best. It's the energy of just kind of knowing that you've got something going and you don't want to mess it up. You stay on your toes.
Have you noticed an influx of fans since 'Going the Distance' came out?
Yeah, loads, which is great. Only time will tell if they just like that song and then they move on or if they actually genuinely like everything we're doing. You never really know. That's been our first taste of having a -- I wouldn't even call it a hit, but we've never had that song where people turned up to hear that song at a gig. I just hope the people that liked that like the new album and we can keep them as fans.
Gino DePinto, AOL
Yeah, I hope so. I hope we stay busy.
Do you feel any pressure because of that?
We've never, at least in the past five or six years, held any sort of hope for anything spectacular purely because we know how much the music business can let you down. In the US and hugely in England, every year it's like "the best new artist" list -- we're not on the best new artist because we've been around for 10 years -- but there will be this huge list of bands and they're supposed to be the next massive thing. It seems like 5% of them actually have success. No matter how big you're built up, you have to have music to back it up.