The Boxtones are a Scottish/Canadian 5 piece award winning band based in Dubai and signed to Universal Music MENA.
The band consists of: Louise Peel (Lead Vocals), Gary Tierney (Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals), Gill Tierney(Drums, Vocals), Will Janssen (Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals) and Patrick Thibault on Bass and vocals.
Since setting up their own Dubai-based company in early 2013 as full-time musicians, The Boxtones with their energetic and engaging live performances have captivated hundreds of thousands of fans at all of the big events in the region. Such events include Yasalam Beats on the Beach, Formula One Abu Dhabi Party in the Park, Emirates Airline Dubai Rugby Sevens and more.
The Boxtones are recipients of the prestigious Ahlan! Hot 100 Title winners of Best UAE Act at the annual Hype Awards and Rolling Stone Magazine’s Street to Stage competition winners. Leading brands Shure and Vic Firth also endorse the band.
The Boxtones have so far performed alongside Stereophonics, Kaiser Chiefs, Pharrell Williams, The Who, Blur, Florence & The Machine, Enrique Iglesias, Lily Allen, Jason Derulo, Travis, Razorlight, Richard Ashcroft, The Charlatans, The Ting Tings and many more.
The Boxtone’s new album ‘Home’ is out now and features the single "Against The Odds", "City of Mirrors” feat. Two Tone and ‘Home’. The album was produced by Gary Tierney and Elvis Garagic at Sound Struck Studios in Dubai.
How would you describe your music?
Gary: The band’s music comes from a rock and roll background, but people have often said that we sound like a whole bunch of bands that live in widely different genres. I write a lot of the tracks, and my background was the grunge days of the 90’s so I used to write a lot of heavy songs, with a lot of shouting. The band as we are today draws from the high energy of that decade, and the pop sensibilities of today’s music scene. I mean we have a rap, a folk and a near RnB song on our new album…ha ha (kind of)
What inspired you to start a career in the music business?
Gary: I have always loved music from a very young age. My mum and dad were The Beatles and The Stones, so every weekend we would have a stand-off between who would be played. Often it ended up both and we were assaulted with ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ and ‘Start Me Up’ constantly. I got a keyboard for Christmas when I was 5 or 6, and just lived on it. It had light up keys so you could follow the notes. I got my first guitar at 18 I think, and because it was cooler, I dropped the keyboard and learned guitar. Singing came afterwards and Gill and I started our first band when she was about 11. We both have never looked back, music is everything.
Tell us about your creative process. Who writes and produces your material and what instruments or software do you use in creating your sound?
Gary: I record ideas on my phone. Everywhere, anywhere. Modern technology has really helped the musician in so many ways, as before I had a dictaphone, now I just use an App. I get home, or when I get some time, I sit in my home studio and record the keyboards or guitars first depending on the idea. Then it’s the vocals or melody, followed by the drums and bass. Its not always this way, but most of the time the song comes from a melody or a drum beat I like or hear somewhere…then it just takes shape. I’m gone for at least 8 to 10 hours when I go in there…it has to be finished before I let anyone hear it. We then all sit together and rip it apart (if it needs it) and arrange the song into a Boxtones song…
Where can people buy or stream your music?
Will: The main places to get hold of our music are online, which is the trend nowadays for most artists. We are planning to make some vinyls of the latest album too. We do sell CD’s and merch at live gigs, as well as select stores, so there’s always that too. The one stop for everything is via Linkfire: https://UmusicMENA.lnk.to/TheBoxtonesHome
Can you recommend any artists from your home country or town that you like or would like to collaborate or work with? Where are you based? Tell us about your local music scene.
Gill: Scotland has had some great big bands come out in the past 10 years or more, and we have actually played with one of the bigger ones recently – Travis – In Dubai. You have Franz Ferdinand, Biffy, Twin Atlantic, Idlewild, The Fratellis and all those guys, who would be great to work with.
Gary: The Boxtones are actually based in Dubai. We have been here for 3 years now, running our own company providing entertainment at events throughout the region. We all wear many hats, myself running the company with Gill who is Managing Partner, Louise – who is our social media blogger, Will – who takes care of all social media, marketing and press, and Pat – who runs our tech and equipment department.
Dubai is a very young city with a maturing music scene developing. We have helped to pioneer some of that scene over the last few years, and we are all really excited to see it flourish into something unique, given the right set of circumstances. It’s definitely different living and working out here, but there is a sense of community amongst musicians here that we hope will bring the best acts out of the UAE and deliver them to the rest of the world
What was the first song you ever played or learnt?
Gary: On Piano – ‘Michael row the boat ashore’, on guitar ‘Welcome to Paradise’ – Green Day
Louise: I became obsessed with learning the guitar when I was backpacking around Canada so a friend gave me his dad’s old acoustic and I had a few lessons. The first song I learnt was ‘Born to be Wild’. It was pretty apt for that time in my life.
Gill: First song I played on drums (badly) – Green Day – ‘When I Come Around’
Will: On Piano – either ‘Fur Elise’ or ‘Moonlight Sonata’ by classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven, and spookily the same as Gill’s answer ‘When I Come Around’ by Green Day on guitar.
Pat: I first picked up the bass in a jam party and stumbled along The Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’. They told me “Just follow the guitarist’s index finger”. Easy enough!
What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?
Louise: I think for most lyricists anything that you write will always have a piece of your psyche in there, no matter how buried or hidden it is. It’s impossible to completely separate yourself from your words even if it’s a fantasy story about an imagined person’s life. It probably still has an element in there that appeals to you or ruminates within you. I’m a really nostalgic person so most of the lyrics I write are about human relationships, breaking ties that bind you (whatever they may be) or about new life beginnings. Freedom is a theme I always find myself coming back to. The more uplifting lyrics often feature elements inspired by travel and adventure, about embracing life and being brave in your choices.
Describe what a typical day/week is like for you?
Gill: Our job is unlike many others. There’s no set work day or clocking in and out, it’s constant. We work when most of our friends are off and have some time off when they are all working, it’s pretty topsy-turvy. We started our own company and we work for ourselves which ultimately means when we aren’t performing or practicing music, we are doing all the behind the scenes admin, networking, promotion, planning and general slog to keep the machine running. It’s tiring and can be pretty stressful living in each other’s pockets every day, but it just makes the rewards that much more sweet in the end!
Who of your contemporaries in music do you listen to the most?
Gary: I just got Ellipsis by Biffy. It’s a departure from their usual sound, but I’m enjoying it.
Louise: Believe it or not I very rarely listen to music now. I think sometimes there’s an element of being ‘muso’d out’ sometimes. It is something I plan to remedy this year though so send me your recommendations.
Gill: I got a vinyl player for Xmas so I am listening to more nostalgic music at the moment than anything else, I’m just loving buying physical music and artwork again.
Will: The recently released 10th studio album from Metallica, “Hardwired…To Self Destruct”. They’ve gone back to their thrash roots after years of ‘going with the flow’ on the commercial front. I’m loving the whole record, front to back!
Pat: These days I’m heavily into The Flaming Lips “The Soft Bulletin”. What a great album! Frightened Rabbit’s ‘Poke’ is a song I was just made aware of last summer and can’t get enough of it. Beautiful track! Apart from that, not a day goes by without me putting on one of Rancid’s many albums.
Any celebrity crushes?
Louise: At one of our performances at Middle East Film and Comic Con one of the interviewers lost her voice and as I was a (ahem) huge fan of the actor and the Vikings TV show, I was roped in to holding the Q and A panel for Clive Standen who plays Rollo. It was a pretty great yet terrifying hour of my life.
What’s your favourite colour?
Pat: My favourite one is orange, but I do like neon green and dark purple as well. I love to mix and match contrasting neon colours, ocular violence. Off stage I sometimes accidentally end up dressing like The Joker, which I try to avoid as I’m mostly hanging with the guys who tend to stick to 50 shades of black. It’s a good thing Louise is here to create a balance as she tends to be quite colourful.
If you could win any award, one of your choice what award would it be?
Will: That’s a tough one because there are so many prestigious awards a band can receive for songwriting, performance, music video concepts, etc. Honestly, it’s an honour to win an award for doing something you love. We already get so much out of our music, and we aren’t about collecting trophies for things we do. I wouldn’t say no to a Grammy though….