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The Winnipeg Lance, Free Press

Winnipeg’s The Lance newspaper – 17th
June 2014

Living the rock ’n’ roll dream

St. Vital native working hard with The Boxtones in Dubai

By Simon Fuller

A St. Vital native is busy rocking all over the world.

Will Janssen, 35, is a member of the five-piece rock band The Boxtones; which includes lead vocalist Louise Peel; lead guitarist/vocalist Gary Tierney; his sister, drummer Gill Tierney, who is Janssen’s girlfriend; and bass player Patrick Thibault. Janssen is the band’s keyboard player.

The band is currently based in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and is busy making a name for itself in the Middle East. The band was formed in 2006 in Edinburgh, Scotland by the Tierney siblings and Peel joined shortly after. The trio then ventured to Bahrain for some corporate gigs. Janssen and Thibault joined in 2012.

In an email interview with The Lance, Janssen said The Boxtones have become established as the "top rock band" in the UAE. "It’s easy to quantify. We’re known for being one of the hardest-working bands in the UAE and we have facts to back it up," he said.

"We have been featured in all the newspapers and magazines at least once, been nominated for best band by Hype Magazine, won the Rolling Stone Middle East magazine Street to Stage competition out of more than 2,000+ bands, as well as placing in the top 40 out of more than 10,000 bands worldwide for Hard Rock Rising, where we won the Dubai heat, representing the entire Middle East against all the other Hard Rock Cafes in the world," Janssen said.

Another highlight for the band was landing the support spot for legendary ’80s band Europe — those of The Final Countdown fame — at the Dubai Tennis Centre in front of a crowd of around 5,000. Add to the list the band’s first original album titled ‘In The Pockets of Clowns’ and you’ll see why Janssen is confident the band will achieve one of his ultimate personal goals — to become a household name.

"We are doing really well right now, but we are in the early stages of this musical adventure," Janssen said. "With only one album released and a few music videos, we’ve received plenty of attention from the local and corporate scene in Dubai. The next plan is to continue writing and recording more material, tour with it, and getting global attention."

Dubai is a long way from St. Vital, which is where Janssen spent part of his youth. He said he went to preschool at the YMCA-YWCA on Fermor Avenue, followed by stints at Hastings elementary school, École St. Germain and the former Norberry School.

"Here’s where it all began with piano lessons under the direction of Shirley Yip and Jane Patroni, when I’d spend hours on a daily and weekly basis with my piano studies," Janssen said, noting he later graduated from Vincent Massey Collegiate in Fort Garry.

"I also found the time to enjoy extra curricular activities, such as playing ice hockey with the Dakota Lazers. When in Canada — play hockey!"

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