We meet Henry Cox during the midst of his whirlwind trip down under and Boston Manor’s first Australian tour, an albeit brief flurry of festival slots and sideshows. And while Henry’s keen to get his Melbourne coffee fix, time limits him to the selection of crate-cafes between Spring Street and Sydney Road. A fair glimpse at Melbourne CBD but barely dusting the surface of what the city has to offer anyone with an interest in music, fashion and tattoos.
Still, Boston Manor are busy breaking the ice with afternoon sets at Good Things Festival and sweaty support slots opening for The Wonder Years. Their reception is exhilarating and immediate proof that the British quintet’s sophomore record, ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ is transcending continents.
It’s a snowball effect that required significant momentum. The Northern seaside town of Blackpool which Boston Manor hail from isn’t off the map, but it could’ve quite easily put the band out of reach of the action. Similar to the challenge young Australian artists face when trying to break out of remote suburbs. Debut album ‘Be Nothing’ was good enough to get Boston Manor noticed, both on home turf and in the US, but ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ doubled their intent at the tail end of 2018, thick with ’90s rock influences and structured by mature songwriting and improved musicianship. They’ve had a glow of confidence outlining them ever since.
Henry recalls the album process for ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’, “We were writing for a year and when we were due to actually record the thing, we kind of realised it wasn’t really up to scratch, and we wrote half the record in January . We recorded in February and it came out in September.
“We’ve been trying to write this record for f**king years and not long after we did that first album, we all started to get on the same page musically and sonically. It feels like it was quite a long time in the making.”
Taking us back through the band’s influences while deep in the production process, Henry explains, “I think we all kind of listen to a lot of the music that we all listened to since we were kids, but then we started being on the same page with what those influences were.
“We’re all in our mid-twenties, we all grew up listening to a lot of nu-metal stuff. We kind of went back and listened to Nine Inch Nails, Faith No More and a lot of industrial stuff. That whole era of music. And we thought, we like Hip hop and catchy pop music, so how can we kind of blend the two together really.
“I’m not saying we did it perfectly but I think we definitely surprised ourselves with what we could achieve collectively, I do remember that.”
Still on the topic of building up his influences as a child of the ’90s, Henry acknowledges the impact of mainstream pop music, “Pop is cool though. You know, it’s such a wider genre than it used to be. It’s not just *NSYNC and Spice Girls anymore. Not that I’m talking any smack about the Spice Girls by the way, I plan to go to a reunion gig. It’s gonna be great.”
The impact of ’90s styles has left its mark on Henry’s wardrobe too, an avid wearer of Doc Martens and fiercely loyal to everything black with trouser hems rolled above the ankle.
His tattoos follow suit, black and grey shading, detailed and undeniably creative, yet fun and not without irony. Henry doesn’t boast about his current tattoo collection, but does indulge us in details. Like his next piece, on his torso, an area he’s pumped to add to.
The monochrome aesthetic trickles down into the band’s merch designs too, predominantly black and dominated by thinly-lined motifs. Splashes of red accent the collection, the signature colour from ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ and in-keeping with Henry’s Eastpak bumbag.
It’s an unassuming palette on the surface of things, but one which compliments Boston Manor’s presence as a band. Not overly in your face, but decidedly confident and considered. Placing priority on the details at play – be it riffs or streetwear accessories – is what cements their style in the mind of fans and has everyone always wanting more.
Boston Manor photographed at Stay Gold, Melbourne, 6 December 2018:
Boston Manor’s latest album, ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’ is out now.