Entering the cycle of their third full-length, GLUE, Boston Manor have made the conscious decision to evolve rather than evaporate. Armed with dark, metaphoric lyrics and rapid-fire instrumentation, the Blackpool five-piece have clawed their way from the underground into the spotlight. Trust us, they deserve to be here.
Casting a shadow over their sophomore release, Welcome To The Neighbourhood, with standout singles such as “Liquid” featuring John Floreani of Trophy Eyes and “On A High Ledge,” Boston Manor have created a collection of work that echoes with transparency. Frontman Henry Cox revealed to AltPress what helps the band stick together (no pun intended) as well as the difficulties they faced writing and recording GLUE.
When I found out that the album’s name was GLUE, I thought it was so strange because it felt simplistic in the best way. What was the inspiration behind the album title?
Well, we were looking for a name for a while. Nothing was really sticking. We wanted it to represent the album, but we didn’t want it to be too simple. I really liked the last album name, and I think it summed up the record so well. It was such an aesthetically pleasing statement, like a line. I wanted something a bit less wordy, but I wanted it to be really clean and simple and bold but get to the point of what the record was. For a while, I wanted to call it Glue Trap. I didn’t even know those things existed until recently. I thought, “That is such a crazy fucking barbaric thing to be able to set glue traps. What a horrible death.” And then I started being a bit morbid, and I started thinking about some of the darker themes on the record, and I was like, “Yeah, Glue Trap. That’s hard, man. That’s a heavy, heavy name.” But then it didn’t feel very genuine because I thought, “Well, it’s an angry record, but it’s also a positive record.” I think it ends on a positive note. And I think it aims to inspire positivity and hope. And I don’t think calling it something that dark is very fitting. But then I thought GLUE. It can be something like a glue trap, or it also binds things together, and it’s strong, but it’s also fluid. It just seemed right, and it just stuck from that. And that is not meant to be a joke. [Laughs.]
Boston Manor have released two full-lengths, both of which are dramatically different from each other. What was your headspace going into the third album? How did Boston Manor plan to make this record different?
I think the main problem was the headspace when making this album. We did factor into it the change from the first album to the second album. The second album had gone down pretty well, so we felt like we actually had some expectations to follow. Which we haven’t had before that, and [we were] conscious that we always want to push things forward and try new things and be experimental. But also not alienate fans that we got into a tennis match in our heads. That threw us off for a while. It really disrupted the writing process, actually, and got us into a bit of a rut. But we crawled out of it.
Boston Manor’s second album, Welcome To The Neighbourhood, has a dark feel to it. But GLUE holds a lot of charged aggression throughout most of the tracks. What inspired the writing process going into the album?
I mean, the whole world has gone so awry. The whole world and people’s lives have gone a little bit awry. I think it all really came to a head toward the end of last year, and you can just feel it in the atmosphere. And people aren’t very happy at the moment. There’s a lot to be very angry about. And we were in a really bad spot, as I mentioned. We were burnt out from touring, and we felt a little bit frustrated. We weren’t getting the time to write that we wanted, and when we could write, we got stuck. I guess the growing unrest in the world has really crescendoed in the past year or so. All of that factored into the tension in the writing process. I think all of the songs sound quite questionable but in a good way. Deliberately, it all sounds a little bit pent up and goes quite heavy in parts and tender in others as well. But I think generally it comes from a place of anxiousness, tension and frustration. It was actually a really cathartic process, to be honest, because it felt like we went into a tunnel to make it. But we did come out the other side, and there was a real sense of victory elation when we wrote it. Since then, we’ve actually been in a really good spot. I think that coupled with some time off to make a record has helped us work through some stuff in our personal lives. It was a real journey making it.
Listening to GLUE feels very personal. It’s very intimate in a lot of ways. Was it hard to pen songs that were so revealing?
Definitely. That was the biggest challenge for me personally. [It’s] something I’ve never felt super comfortable with in a lot of ways. Also, I think there’s a bit of self-doubt there because the songs I grew up with [and] loved came from people with such interesting stories to tell. I don’t have that much of a different take on life or a life experience to really save myself. I think the average person has had to face a fair amount of adversity in their life, and I don’t think I have anything unique in terms of a take on all of that. I’m not particularly interesting. So that’s why I tend to try and project my feelings and thoughts on the world through someone else’s lens, or I prefer for the camera to be pointed away from me on the subject rather than me being the subject.
Sometimes songs come from a deeply personal place, and I think there’s a lot of value to being vulnerable. That’s where I come from. And I think that’s a really hard thing to do because I just cringe sometimes. I try to write something really honest, something relatable and just genuine, [and] it comes off as cringy. So I’ll do a metaphor instead. I definitely found value in the songs where I did do that, and I’m trying to do that more.
I think the best songs are when you can boil them down. The best songs are the simplest. You look back at all of the greats of history, but even up to stuff now, like pop songs and [Drake’s] “Hotline Bling,” that is the simplest song ever. And actually, it’s so great. [In] 2015, “Hotline Bling” was the tune of that whole year. So I think we cover up our songs a lot. I do that lyrically as well. I think if you can boil it down to its most honest and simple, you can take out a lot of shit and just leave the core elements. Sometimes that can be the best song. That’s something I’m going to be trying to do more [with] my writing in the future.
In June 2019, Boston Manor released the first single “Liquid” featuring John Floreani. What was the significance of making sure this track was included on the album instead of being released as a single?
We did a track called “Drowned In Gold” in between the first album and the second album. And the track, quite honestly, got a little bit lost, especially the way it sits on Spotify. Things can easily just get buried in the singles section. I think “Liquid” started working really well live, and people liked it. We’d written it as part of an early writing session and recorded it in separate sessions with another track on this record. So initially we were like, “Do we just release it like a double-sided single, or do we put it on the record?” I didn’t want it to get lost, and it fits in with the rest of this record.
What was the easiest track for you to write and record?
“1’s & 0’s,” the second track on the record. We actually wrote that in the studio right toward the end of the session. We’d written most of the record, and we weren’t going to do anything else. There were these two songs we were trying to write, and it was actually Jordan (Pugh, drummer) that said, “Nah, let’s keep going with this song.” So we did. And then it just became this rowdy punk track. And it was really easy to lay down because it’s really simple.
How has the creation of this album shaped you personally and as an artist?
I think it’s definitely shaped me as an artist in terms of giving me a lot of confidence to try and develop myself as a musician rather than just a singer. I don’t have a lot of self-confidence [or] self-belief. This has definitely made me very energized to write more music and see where we can take this as a project and what kind of music we can write and play. It’s definitely inspired me so much to keep pushing and to not be stuck in this cycle of writing. I want to keep creating and evolving all the time.