Exclusive Chat With Mike Cunniff from Boston Manor
Have an exclusive chat to bring you today featuring Mike Cunniff, guitarist of the Blackpool, UK based Boston Manor, who will be playing in the Boston area for the first time later tonight @ Out of The Blue in Cambridge. The guys have been a constant presence on the site over the last several years, dating back to when they were first featured on the "Towering Over London" Bandcamp compilation, and have grown tremendously as musicians over that span of time. Boston Manor have finally arrived on American shores, and are ready to take the U.S. by storm where audiences are waiting with open arms and feverish potential for a band that has been generating quite a buzz across the pond. Mike was awesome enough to delve into some details on arriving to the U.S. for the first time, his hopes for the current tour, and the recording of their brand new LP "Be Nothing". Here is the transcript from our chat:
First off, welcome to America! How does it feel to play in the U.S.A. for the first time?
We set off for the US in a couple of days! We're all pretty excited and so hard to believe that we'll be playing songs we wrote in a bedroom on the other side of the world. It's seriously so mad. We can't wait.
Let's go back to your beginnings and how Boston Manor all met?
It sounds super cliche but we all met through our local scene. Dan and myself played in a band and used to organise shows at our local. We put on all kinds of bands. Ash and Jord played in a metalcore band together and we actually put on their first show. The scene slowly died down as more and more places either shut down or refused to put on shows. People stopped coming down to shows and most if the bands broke up. We met Henry through mutual friends and decided to give it another go but instead of playing local shows we bought a cheap small red van and headed out on DIY tours. Our new local scene became Manchester and we discovered a whole new world of music, DIY ethos and community.
How influential has bands like Brand New been to your sound and how have they helped shape you as individuals?
Brand New have been a huge influence on the way we write music and progress as a band. They made us all realise that you don't have to write the same album twice and it's always more fun to do something different and risky. Especially since we're all such big fans of such a wide variety of music. The new wave of late 90s early 00s bands have been highly influential in shaping our sound as well as older bands like Nirvana, The Smiths, The Pixies and Radiohead. We always want to step outside of our comfort zone stylistically.
The U.K. music scene seems to be exploding with bands like Roam, Neck Deep, and As It Is leading the charge. What does it feel like to be leading this charge of British pop-punk storming out of the gate?
What a time to be alive! If it had been 10 years earlier, being in a successful band seemed like a total pipe dream unless you were backed by a big label or well connected. We're so lucky that so many indie labels have reached out to the UK and built this scene. The UK is one of the most exciting places to be for live music right now and we're so lucky to be a part of it.
What was the most difficult part about getting your band started early on and what did you ultimately learn from it?
Finding an audience to listen to what you've made is always difficult. We self booked a lot of shows and tours early on and although it was super fun sometimes we would drive miles to play to the sound guy and the other bands. Being heard is one of the hardest things for any band starting out. Play harder, be original, be louder and go to shows and meet people.
Take us behind the recording process of "Be Nothing" and what the entire process was like for you guys?
Writing that record definitely wasn't easy for us. We wanted to make something distinctive and something that completely solidified our sound. I feel that writing Saudade really helped to lay the ground work but we wanted to push into new territories just a little more. We normally start by tracking demos in Dan's room with skeleton ideas. The idea will change when every member would make input and we kind of sculpt the songs from there. We worked with some great producers Neil Kennedy and Kyle Black and I feel that they brought out the best in us. It was interesting to have an outside perspective and it was super comfortable working with them. They both seemed to completely get where we were coming from and what we wanted to do with the record.
What is your favorite track off the new LP that you cherish the most?
We all have different favourites. Personally I like the heavier more brooding tracks like "Burn You Up" and "Kill Your Conscience". They're so loud and sound great live. Another personal favourite is "Broken Glass". That song seemed to write itself. Henry had a vocal melody which we put simple guitars too and recorded a basic structure. We did a lot of colouring in and textures in that song and it was really fun creating that kind of atmosphere that it has. The song itself is about a close friend of Henry's who was in a nearly fatal car accident.
Which city on the US tour are you looking most forward to play in?
Only a few of us have been over to the US before but we've heard really great things about Boston...
How do you guys usually spend your downtime when not playing shows?
We had a lot of downtime over summer. We all work jobs and spend time with family and girlfriends. We're probably going to be touring quite a lot now so downtime will be few and far between.
Lastly, how has being in this band affected your lives and any words for your fans?
There are definitely pros and cons of being in a band. You give up and sacrifice a lot of things like stability and you don't always get to see loved ones as much as you would like to. Luckily we're all really great friends and the Boston Manor family continues to grow. We work with some awesome people and we've made new friends all over. It's also pretty crazy being on the other side...doing HMV acoustic performances and signings, playing shows to great crowds. Everything is pretty great right now and we're really looking forward to what's around the corner. Words for our fans? "Expect us".
Thanks once again to Mike for doing this interview! Over the last few years, I've grown particularly close to the members of the band, especially with Mike and I still have the patch and handwritten note they sent me a couple of years back along with one of their T-shirts that I hold on to with great pride. I'm looking forward immensely to meeting Mike and the rest of the band later tonight, five gents that have become part of my extended musical family and my brothers in arms that I will always support no matter what. For more on Boston Manor, please 'Like' them on Facebook over at this link here and pick up their new album "Be Nothing" over on Amazon, iTunes, and whereever fine music is sold.