New Band of the Week: Boston Manor

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In this modern day and age of online existence, instant gratification and fast-paced living, it’s easy to forget the old adage that slow and steady wins the race.

And while that applies to pretty much everything, it’s especially true in the ever-increasingly fickle, unstable and changing music industry, where bands can sink just as quickly as they swim in a sea of hype. Which is why Boston Manor’s approach to things is both refreshing and wise. Formed in March 2013, the five-piece from Blackpool straddle a line between emo, punk and pop-punk and have been taking their time to find the right combination of all three.

With their forthcoming EP Saudade, the band – vocalist Henry Cox, guitarists Mike Cunniff and Ash Wilson, bassist Dan Cunniff and drummer Jordan Pugh – absolutely nailed it, making the record they’ve been striving for since they first started.

“It’s really weird,” says vocalist Henry Cox, “because I listen to Saudade and our first demo and [2014 EP] Driftwood and I feel like we’re a completely different band now. When we wrote that first EP, there was only me, Dan and Mike – Ash and Jordan hadn’t even joined the band yet – and we were just writing songs for fun. And if you listen to that EP, you can tell we’re still not quite sure what kind of band we want to be. I’m really proud of all those other songs, but we’ve now worked out who we are as a band. It took us a while to get there, but it just sort of clicked and then Saudade is the start of that.”

The word ‘saudade’ comes from Portuguese folk culture and translates as “a deep emotional state of melancholic longing for a person or thing that is absent.” Which, while these songs are impulsive and insistent rushes of cathartic energy, is precisely the feeling that runs throughout the EP. It’s heartbreaking yet hopeful, ferocious yet fragile, and intelligent as it is impassioned – and it comes from a very honest place.

“I suffer – and have done all my life – from depression and various mental health issues,” says Cox, “and while some of the record is about us being away and missing the people that we love, there’s also the whole melancholia of lamenting your earlier life, your childhood or whatever, and sometimes even things you haven’t experienced. I think a large part of my depression when I was younger came from that, and I think subconsciously that made its way into the record. Mike actually put me onto the term ‘saudade’ – we’d written these songs and he was like ‘Dude, check this out – this just kind of fits everything!’ And it did really just fall into place with the various meanings of the songs. We all got super into it and did loads of research on it – it’s such a beautiful word and a really interesting concept, and it just sort of worked! It just summed up the whole EP perfectly.”

As such, it’s a record – and Boston Manor are a band – who have an uncanny knack for conjuring up memories that both did and did not exist. Their world opens a door into an alternative reality, where you’re always young and wide-eyed with the world at your fingertips. Yes, it’s full of regret, too, but through these songs there’s a chance to retrace steps and take – at least in your mind – a different route that follows all the ‘what ifs’ of your past that never were but which you can never quite escape.

“I think it’s interesting,” Cox says, “that no matter how old we get, we always look at this younger version of ourselves. Whether you’re 18 and you’re like ‘Oh, I wish I was 8!” or whether you’re 60 and are like “Man, I wish I was in my 40s!”, I do think – and it’s not just wanting to be healthier and fitter – there’s always this element of looking back. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but everyone tends to do it.”

As much as the band have one foot in the past, they also have eyes for the future. They’ve already begun recording their debut full-length, which, if all goes according to plan, should see the light of day in early summer. But that’s about all the five-piece have actually planned – everything else they’re just taking it as it comes.

“There’s absolutely no goalposts,” declares Cox. “We just want to see what we can do!”

Saudade will be released on November 20 through Pure Noise Records. For more information on the band, visit their Facebook page.