The Boxtones are one of Dubai’s biggest rock bands, and after being signed to Universal Music Middle East last year, they’re finally about to release their long-awaited album, Home.
The band have been together for four years, gigging across the UAE and the Middle East. Their three founding members – Gill Tierney, Gary Tierney, and Louise Peel – used to work in Edinburgh, playing corporate gigs. Peel says that they were just “trying to make a living and keep our heads above water, and we got sick of it”. So they decided to make a go of it in the Middle East. That was ten years ago.
One of the first places they played here in Dubai was Nell Gwynne’s in the Marina. “It helped us get a fanbase,” says Gary Tierney. “So when we moved on and did another job, people came with us.”
The band that exists now only got together about a year and a half ago. “We met Will when we were working in Bahrain, but he didn’t join the band until we moved to Dubai, and Pat was working in Abu Dhabi when we met him,” explains drummer Gill Tierney.
All five of them have been in other bands, both here and back home. Bass player Patrick Thibault has been in more than others, though. “Every time we go out somewhere and see a new band, he’ll be like, ‘Oh, I used to play with them,” says Gary Tierney.
They’ve played a number of big gigs over the years, including Comic Con, the Dubai Rugby Sevens and Beats on the Beach in Abu Dhabi, where they shared the stage with Jason Derulo.
“I think there were around 29,000 fans – well, they weren’t fans until we’d finished our show,” says Will Janssen.
Their big break came in March last year, when they signed with Universal. “We’d already released something here in Dubai, independently,” says Gary Tierney. “The album was called In the Pockets of Clowns. But we got picked up in March last year, and they said, ‘Right, new album’. We had to rewrite everything.”
“The thing was,” Gill Tierney explains, “the song that we got signed on, Against the Odds [their latest single], came out not long after we’d released that album. Then we got signed to Universal and the whole game changed.”
Following their signing, the band spent the next few months writing 18 brand-new songs, before cutting that down to ten, and that was before they even started recording anything. “It’s a long process,” says Gary Tierney. “Everyone thinks, ‘But you were signed a year and a half ago’. We’ve had to do a whole new project since then, from the very beginning. It’s a bit of a challenge.”
The Boxtones’ new album, Home, is due out on Friday November 25. “I can’t wait,” says Gary Tierney, adding that they’ve had to be quiet “for months, not able to say anything about it”. But the silence is now over…
The Boxtones’ latest single, Against the Odds, is out now on iTunes for Dhs4.49.