Henry Cox of Boston Manor

A Near Decade with Boston Manor

Boston Manor from the UK made their way back to the States, this time on a headlining tour in support of their recently released Desperate Times, Desperate Pleasure EP on SharpTone Records.  Playing a much longer set than when they were last here supporting Neck Deep, Boston Manor unveiled selections from a near decade in music.  Highwire Daze caught up with front man Henry Cox at The Lodge in Highland Park, California to discuss their upcoming 10-Year Anniversary as a band, being back on the road after a pandemic inflicted hiatus, their brand-new single Foxglove, and a whole lot more!   Read on…

We’re here with Henry from Boston Manor. How has this current tour been going and what have been some of the highlights?
It’s been great! It’s been really fun to be back out in America – obviously, we’re very used to touring here. Having to spend two years at home, it’s great to be back. We were lucky enough to come back in November, so this isn’t our first time back here. A headlining tour is something different. It’s been sick! The shows have been crazy. It’s more fun to play some of the more intimate rooms at some of the shows – and kind of really talk to the fans in between the songs. There’s no big barrier sometimes and they’re just there – they’ll ask you questions, and you’ll just answer them because they’re just standing right there. It’s been great and really fun to sort of reconnect with everybody.

Your previous tour you mentioned was supporting Neck Deep here in the States. What were some of the highlights and what was it like being on the road again after all of this time?
The tour was amazing! It was big rooms. We played to a lot of people who had never heard of our band before, which was super refreshing. We made a lot of fans. And yep, it was obviously the first time since the pandemic, so we had a lot of energy because we were so excited to be back out there. We feel so comfortable in America – it’s our second home. I missed it so much over the pandemic. Some of my favorite experiences in a band have been travelling around this country. I was just itching to get back out here with the boys and play shows. So yeah, the tour didn’t disappoint at all. It was wild! It was crazy! There were some big rooms on that tour! It was really fun!

Where were you when the pandemic started? Where you on tour?
I was actually on a flight coming back from New Zealand. I was with my fiancée, and we had been on vacation for six weeks. We had been reading about it online while we were there and then we got back – and then two days later they closed all the borders and put everybody into lockdown. Fortunately, we weren’t halfway into a tour. I’m thankful for that. I know a lot of my friends had to do that. So yeah, it was 100 miles an hour to zero very quickly – same as everybody else.

Desperate Times, Desperate Pleasures EP

Let’s talk about the new EP Desperate Times, Desperate Pleasures. Is there any overall story or concept behind that title?
To be quite frank, it’s a real pandemic record. It was written and recorded during the pandemic – even the name reflects all that. It is about isolation and then frustration – a lot of it was written in response to not necessarily the actual lockdowns, but sort of people’s responses to it. Also, people’s behavior responses to it – good things but mostly bad things – the way I saw people treating each other. I kept an eye on things over here, but the UK – it was a bit depressing, to be honest. One the one hand, you get people putting their mobile phone numbers through the door – “You know, if you need anything, give me a call. I’m just down the street.” But you also see people fighting over pasta in the supermarket and toilet rolls and things like that. My fiancée has to work throughout the whole pandemic, and she was telling me about just how she saw people’s behavior change as the year went on. And it got worse and worse and worse. The way that people’s patience was a lot thinner – they would treat people not very nicely. And to me, that made it all harder.

What does your fiancée do for a living?
She’s a veterinarian nurse. People need to get their animals looked after, so she had to work the whole time. She had to work more than usual during the pandemic – she had a rough go of it, bless her. She’s a really hard worker and I’m really proud of her. It was really hard. She’d come home and she’d be like, “We had to call the police because some guy was screaming because his vet bill was more than he thought it was going to be.” Or some people wouldn’t wear a mask. You know what I mean – you hear about it everywhere. Not fun to read about it and hear about it.

Let’s talk about a few of the songs on the EP. Algorithm – you also did an acoustic version of it. Tell me about the inspiration behind that song.
It kind of again just falls in line with all of the things I’ve been talking about really. We wrote most of the record in one really short batch of writing. And that song was kind if inspired by a Lana Del Rey sound that we liked – kind of thinking about this – California, palm trees and stuff – kind of a pop song – imagine driving with your shades on. But I really like kind of juxtaposing a sound with the lyrics. The lyrics are quite dark, and the song is like a feel-good hit summer kind of thing. I love that song – it’s probably my favorite on the record.

I Don’t Like People And They Don’t Like Me. Where is that coming from, Henry?
(Laughs) Well again, hearing these shitty stories about people and seeing people do horrible things. But I also think that song is sort of like a paranoia anthem. You start to spend a lot of time indoors. There was a real kind of us-vs-them thing going on across the internet and all the news outlets. I mean, we could talk about this all day. We’ve all seen it on any news station in the world right now – it’s a very divisive time. And I think just the way that people have to be split into camps over every single little thing. Masks or no masks. Vaccine or no vaccine – and a plethora of other things. I was in lockdown, so I wasn’t going anywhere, so I really started to feel a bit “the walls are getting a little higher and a little thinner” – and it sort of channeled into a little tongue and cheek song about paranoia – being a bit scared to go outside.

Foxglove single cover art

How close are you to releasing a full-length album or new music? Anything coming up?
Well, we put something out two days ago – our first new song since the EP called Foxglove. And yeah, we’ve been working on music constantly over the last three years. We have stuff – nothing I can talk about at the moment, but we have cool shit coming up.

Let’s talk about Foxglove and the inspiration behind it.
Yeah, it came out literally two days ago and it’s the first song we wrote out of a big batch of songs last year. We recorded it last year. We just wanted to write a sort of woozy kind of song that revolved around this weird, offbeat rhythm that could kind of get kids jumping up and down. We just kind of wanted to go back to that dark Welcome To The Neighbourhood sound that we had – like experiment with that again. It felt cool – it felt like putting on an old comfortable pair of jeans – it fits just right.

Next year – and I couldn’t even believe this when I read it – marks the 10-year anniversary of Boston Manor…
It’s crazy! Right?

First of all, how does it make you feel that you’ve done this band for 10 years?
It makes me feel old, man. I was a teenager when we started the band. It’s been a wild, wild ride. It’s something that I never, never thought I would get to do – and I’m so incredibly grateful to all the people who helped us – but mainly to my four best friends for going on this journey with me. The things I’ve been able to do – I’m thankful for every day and I never, ever take it for granted. I’m excited for what the next chapter is going to hold for us. We’re not planning on slowing down anytime soon.

I saw you had an EP back then released called Here/Now which I didn’t know anything about…
Yeah, it was our demo basically. So, it’s kind of off social media. But it was what we were selling – bootleg CD’s and cassettes in pubs and stuff when we first started playing. It’s a record that old heads pretend that they liked so they seem like that they’re OG fans – but really, it’s a bunch of songs that we wrote when we really didn’t know how to write music – in my opinion.

Boston Manor at The Lodge

Also going back, what’s your favorite memory of the Van’s Warped Tour?
It’s our first time we’ve been back in a van wagon since then, so we’ve been talking about it a lot – there’s so much stuff. I think my favorite memory was we did a day off where we floated down a big, long river in Texas. It was us and Movements and Knocked Loose and Microwave – and we all – I guess it’s a thing in America that we don’t have in the UK – kind of like a rubber ring float thing and it’s just chill. It was crazy! Loved it! But every day it was a weird carnival adventure. I feel very lucky I got to do it. I kind of wish we could have done it again but at the same time I like that it’s untainted in my memory. I didn’t do it enough times to be cynical. One of our friend bands did it like five times. For me, it was this one magical summer that we did, and I loved every second of it.

What’s up next for you after this tour is all over?
So, we have a whole month in Europe – we’re doing loads and loads of festivals – so if you’re in Europe and reading this, check out our website. We’ve got all the dates up there. We’re doing loads of shows in between with Neck Deep and Rise Against. So, if we’re not playing a festival, we’ll be doing a show somewhere. It’s going to be a really busy, nonstop month. And then we have a lot of cool plans for the fall and winter, but that’s yet to be announced. And we’re playing Riot Fest later this year as well, which will be awesome.

Rise Against – legendary band!
I’m so excited! I grew up loving that band, so it will be cool to play alongside them.

And do you have any messages for Boston Manor fans who are reading this right now?
Just thank you so much for your ongoing support. Whether you’re a brand-new fan or have been with us for years, I’m just so grateful that you’ve invested your time and energy into our creative endeavors. It’s something I’ll never take for granted.

(Interview by Ken Morton – Henry Cox Photos by Jack Lue)

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