One of the hardest working bands in show business, The Boxtones have just released their debut single on Universal Music MENA, the barnstorming 'Against The Odds.' We caught up with singer-songwriter and guitarist Gary to find out how the video featuring 150 extras, cheerleaders and bag pipers went down...
Congratulations on your debut single on Universal - what does it sound like, if it was a word what word would it be?
First Part: It sounds like a hundred thousand people singing in a football field filled with drum kits. Second Part: Epic.
UAE labels seem to be increasingly supportive of local bands and talent, is that something you've found?
The UAE music scene for western live bands is still in its infancy at the minute, as there aren't that many of us signed to labels. However Universal MENA have been fantastic to work with, and they support almost all of our crazy ideas. We try our best to include all the artists in the region in our music and social media, as we really believe in bringing this region to the top of the pile when it comes to local, regional and international attention on the worldwide music scene. There are some ridiculously talented people here, and they deserve to get attention for their art.
What was shooting the video like - what input did you have, was it glamorous, fun, hard work?
It took 19 hours... straight! We had over 150 extras. We had water companies deliver fifty gallons of water. The guys at 815 Studios (the video production team) were there for nearly 24 hours and were fantastic. We found a few little trinkets from the Nicki Minaj show that was on the night before, and the guys at 117Live were really accommodating. It was hard work, but well worth it - we can't wait to hear what everyone thinks...
What's being in a rock and roll band like - women, booze, and fast and furious lifestyles, or hustling for gigs, working long hours and carrying your equipment round in 50 degree heat?
A bit of both really. It's a lot of hard work. It's also a hell of a lot of fun. We have travelled the world doing what we love, and we have been well rewarded for our hard work. There are days with no sleep, days and nights of endless partying, gig after gig when touring, one hotel room blending with another, but I don't think any of us would change a single thing...
You balance your work well - corporate band who are also a rocking originals band, how hard is it to straddle that divide?
It is hard to balance it. We have our own company here in the UAE so we tend to about 4 to 500 enquiries, and perform about 150 to 200 corporate gigs each year since 2013. Now that we are signed and developing our original material on some pretty big stages around the region, a lot of our focus is on this part of our careers. We spent 9 months making the new album, cancelled holiday plans last year, and sacrificed a lot of potential well-paid gigs to pursue our own music, but I think Dubai and the rest of the region are now ready for our sound...
The UAE's live music scene is growing with open mic nights and lots of talent appearing - what's your take on it, have bands asked for your help, what advice would you give?
A good friend of ours does about 17 open mic nights each week and they are really gathering momentum in the community. It's a testament to the fact that there is a lot of talent here, and are looking for ways to express that art. Because we vanished from the public eye for the past 6 to 9 months or so working on this record, we have kept ourselves pretty much to ourselves, but we did ask a few artists in the region to feature on the album, and we are really excited to announce their involvement.
Where can people find you playing live at the moment?
We have some big announcements coming up soon for some shows we will be a part of, but we can let you know that we will be playing at this year's Party in the Park on November 11th with The Kaiser Chiefs and more.
'Against The Odds' is out now