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Rolling Stone Middle East Magazine

Rolling Stone Magazine ME – March 1st 2014

The Boxtones Get Serious With 'Clowns'

Dubai-based rockers launch their debut album this month.

After years on the covers circuit in the GCC and beyond, The Boxtones officially launch their debut LP of original material, In The Pockets Of Clowns, this month.

The band - founded by siblings Gary and Gill Tierney (vocalist-guitarist and drummer respectively) - only cemented their current roster (singer Louise Peel, keyboardist Will Janssen and bassist Patrick Thibault complete the lineup) a little over a year ago. And it was the first time Gary believed he had a group serious enough about producing their own material to get an album finished. The result is a nine-track LP which displays the kind of eclectic influences you'd expect from a group who've made a living playing hours of covers every night.

"Every song's different," says Janssen, "but it's the same sound overall. I think people who aren't musicians will appreciate it, and those who are will admire the craft and all the thought that's been put into it."

While most of the original material for the songs was Gary's - compiled from 200-300 tracks written over the past 13 years or so, he's quick to stress that the input of the other members was crucial. But, he says, the LP is "basically a 'Best Of' "those demos, from which the other four members had to cherry pick.” “It was, like, a week's work just listening to all those songs," says Janssen. "I was sick of Gary's voice!"

Some tracks, though, were written just weeks before the record was completed. "After All Is Said And Done" is one of them. The "rock anthem," Gary says, was chosen as the first single because "it kind of sums everything up, really. It's literally about the fact that we’d finished, and the story of making the record."

"The whole album's like a love story, really. It's a bit of a cliché, but ..." Gary continues, "...it's also a kind of 'F*** you' to the record industry." Hence the title. ...Clowns dropped online last month, and shifted 1,000 copies in just it’s first week on CD Baby and other music sites. But, Gary says, "We're not doing this for the money. The first CD is, like, promotion." Because it's so difficult to land regular gigs as an original band here," he says, "It's really about trying to create a presence without gigging." Not easy, when you don't have a team of publicists. "We're spending so much time on computers," says Janssen, "that we don't get to play our instruments as much. You get to rehearse and you're like 'What is this? This isn't my laptop.'" Still, Gary admits, "I don't think we ever aimed for us to be [huge] here. It's a launching platform really. We're just trying to get as much going as we can."

By Adam Grundey