This passionate band have been on our radar for a while, but they really took the city’s music scene by storm after signing a record deal with Universal.
“It’s such a nice recognition for all the hard work we’ve put in,” says Gary Tierney, the band’s singer, guitarist and manager. “It was great to be picked up by a label and give us such worldwide exposure.”
It’s one small step in a much bigger picture for the band, which also sees Louise Peel on lead vocals, Gill Tierney on drums and vocals, Will Janssen on keyboards, guitar and vocals, and Patrick Thibault on bass and vocals. They’re aiming to take things further, to the international market.
“That’s the plan, anyway,” says Tierney. “Every time we reach something like a milestone, we look at the next one. So right now we’re focusing on what’s next and then, after that, we’ll probably focus on what’s next again and it will keep on happening like that.”
It’s been working for them so far. In recent months they’ve also been in the company of some of the world’s biggest stars, supporting Bryan Adams, and being announced as the official supporting act for Elton John, who’s due to play in Dubai at the end of the year. In fact, we’ve been so impressed by them that when the time came to crown the winners of our 2017 Music & Nightlife Awards, there was little debate over who would take Best Dubai Act.
And how would Tierney describe their mucic? “We’re Scottish, Canadian, Celtic, pop-rock. But Celtic with a bracket,” he says. “I don’t think it’s very Celtic, but some of our songs have been described that way.”
The band’s sound has changed since its beginnings (The Boxtones’ first album In the Pockets of Clowns was made in a basement and distributed independently), and Tierney says they’ve made their music more accessible.
“[When we started] we were kind of alternative, heavy rock music, basically.
[We were] children of the grunge era, so that’s where it all came from,” he says.
“When we got picked up by the label, we went back to the drawing board and went, ‘Right, how do we keep the rock element, but become more, sort of like, accessible to your mums and dads, or accessible to kids?’”
Though their signature style remains, tracks on their new album, Home, are more structured, and they’ve kept solos to a minimum. It’s also an album that’s dedicated, in many ways, to Dubai and the people who live here. After spending almost 30 years as expats, Tierney says they wanted to tap into the feeling that many of their ilk now have of being from Dubai, even if they are not UAE nationals.
“The whole thing is about us kind of giving a nod to all the expats out here, and home [being] where the heart is,” he says.
Their music is relatable and energetic, and they have a booming stage presence. If you don’t know them yet, we’ve no doubt you soon will.
Where to see them play: Wed 10pm. Lock, Stock & Barrel, Grand Millennium Dubai, Barsha Heights (04 514 9195). www.boxtonesband.com.