Khaleej times – October 22nd 2013
By Adam Zacharias
Gary Tierney, front man for local rock hotshots The Boxtones, chats with us about recent glories ahead of their show at Gulf Bike Week.
Six years after forming in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, The Boxtones made the leap from established covers band to writing and performing their own material in 2013.
The group settled on its current line-up in May 2012 – comprising singer-guitarist Gary Tierney, singer Louise Peel, keyboardist Will Janssen, bassist Patrick Thibault and drummer Gill Tierney (Gary’s sister).
In February this year, they established themselves as a company in Dubai and shortly after began penning tracks for their debut album ‘In the Pockets of Clowns’, recorded in the band’s own studio and due for release in November.
“It’s a full-time job for all five members,” Gary tells us, adding that the quintet now run their operation as nine-to-five business people in addition to their performing and recording schedule.
“I say 9am, but we all know musos don’t see the morning very often,” he concedes.
Just last month, The Boxtones beat out 2,000 other acts to win the Rolling Stone Street to Stage competition – cementing their status as one of the region’s most exciting up-and-coming bands – and they’ve got a busy schedule ahead with a performance at Gulf Bike Week on Thursday and a support slot for Swedish rock veterans Europe next month.
We spoke with Gary about siblings, spandex and the state of the music industry.
How has becoming a full-time band and professional outfit changed the way The Boxtones function?
Being our own boss now gives us the freedom to choose what work we do on the corporate side, and being independent frees us up to do more varied work. We perform covers for events ranging from product launches and staff parties to weddings and large festivals. On the original side, we’re getting involved in lots of events and, with the album release coming up, you’re going to be seeing a lot more of us.
You’re scheduled to play Gulf Bike Week. Is anyone in the band a biker?
I think being musicians we all wished we also rode motorbikes at some point in our lives. It just doubles the cool factor, doesn’t it?
You’re also supporting Europe on November 22nd at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium. What memories does their signature hit The Final Countdown bring to your mind?
It’s an awesome ‘80s keys tune – our keyboard player Will had to learn this in his previous band and performed it to a bunch of Americans who went crazy for it! The rest of the band played it at a previous gig too, but for an ‘80s brunch dressed in spandex with big wigs! Now we get to meet the legends themselves, minus the spandex on our part though!
What influences shaped your upcoming album?
The album started out as one song, Circusarium, which was an insight into the state of the music industry right now – how fat cats are making money off of talented people, and talentless people are making more money than real artists (not naming any names). From there it developed into a project. I had a couple of old songs I’d written with my earlier band, Fuse, and we started reworking them. One thing led to another and we had six songs completed. We’ve just finished two more, and I have an acoustic number I’ll be working on to finish off the album. We’re all really excited about it, and should be getting it distributed throughout the Gulf with a little help from our friends.
How easy is it being in a band with your sister?
It’s easier than you would think. I don’t really think Gill and I have had a serious argument in years. We get along well, and we can really read each other on stage well. We’ve been in a band for 20 years now, and we’re still as tight as ever.
What’s been The Boxtones’ most embarrassing onstage mishap?
Probably playing on New Year’s Eve at Nell Gwynne pub, Byblos Marina last year. Louise accidentally unplugged all the power right at the countdown to midnight – she couldn’t have timed it any worse! But luckily everyone in the crowd was merry enough by that point that they made enough noise for all of us.
What doors have opened for the band after winning the 2013 Rolling Stone Street to Stage competition?
Our prizes included recording sessions, endorsement from Rolling Stone Middle East and mentorship from Sony Music. So we’re hoping this will open some doors for our original career. There are lots of exciting things on the horizon and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing, so we’re off to a good start! Dubai is our home base, but we hope to travel and showcase our music worldwide.