TMF meets The Boxer Rebellion

Their name may be borrowed from pro-nationalist movement in China, but the music is anything but revolutionary. On the contrary, the lush melodies and beautiful harmonies of The Boxer Rebellion will leave you feeling peaceful and serene rather than ready for a fight. On the eve of their UK tour which starts the 3rd of March in Edinburgh, lead vocalist Nathan Nicholson took a few moments out for a quick chat.

You’re named after a nationalist Chinese uprising which opposed Western influence in China. Why did you choose this name for the band? Do you think there is still too much interference in the affairs of other countries by more powerful nations?

We chose the name from an encyclopaedia of history when we were looking for band names. It was just a combination of something that both sounded good and everyone agreed on instantly. The name seemed to blend well with the music we were making as well. We have no attachment to any political leanings, but I do believe there is too much interference going on. I think the events surrounding the Chinese uprising were the basis of modern day communism in China and it all stemmed from foreign exploitation. The imperialists thought they could exploit China for commerce and even religious gain. Having said that, you can't keep people in a box, and we're a hundred years down the line. People want freedom.

You’re a bit of a mish-mash of cultures: American, Australian, English. Do you think this has an effect on the band’s sound?

If anything I think the fact that we weren't school mates has brought us closer. We all have different influences and enjoy different music. Our sound is our sound, we enjoy making the type of music we make, from a sonic perspective. We have a very democratic songwriting process in which we all have to like the end result and agree on all songs to go on an album.

Your latest album 'The Cold Still' is really beautiful. There is a sad sort of haunted quality to the songs especially 'Caught By The Light' and my favourite 'Locked In The Basement'. What influenced the writing and the sound of this album?

The album really took on a mood of its own, maybe halfway through the writing process. When that happens you can easily tell what is going to be good for the record and what is not. I wouldn't say it is sad, I would say it's introspective. I think there's a lyrical honesty and direction we possibly hadn't reached before and it's all based around different circumstances at different times. We were at a different period in our lives.

'Caught By The Light' touches on the subject of death at the very moments surrounding it and was really inspired by some sad situations. 'Locked In The Basement' is really trying to make sense of various forms of obsession. Doubt as well, is really about looking inward in the final moment and making sense of your life, asking yourself whether you are/were happy?

Who are your musical heroes?

Way to many to list, sorry! I never have trouble listening to Bowie though. EVER.


Nathan, you’re an American ex-pat like me. What was the biggest challenge for you settling in the UK?

I think I was quite lucky that I instantly found myself with friends that felt like family. I can imagine it would be quite difficult otherwise. Within our band and through the band I've made many a lifelong friend. I am glad we're visiting the US on a much more regular basis now though as I can stock up on an entire assortment of food that is terrible for me.

Your music has been used in American TV shows and commercials. Is that good exposure for the band? Do you have a say in which shows and adverts use your music?

It's all proven to be good exposure. For a band like us, who don’t get massive radio play, this is our way of reaching people. We don't say yes to everything, in fact we scrutinise everything that comes our way very closely. We turned down appearing in a TV show recently because it wasn't right for us or general the perception of the band.

What’s next for the band?

I think we're all are looking forward to touring a lot. We're just about to start (we play our biggest ever London show at Heaven on March 10th) and it's going to be good to play the new album, even more so because we've lived and breathed Union for so long. The crowds are getting bigger and busier everywhere and that's a good.

The Cold Still is out now. Visit the band on MySpace

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