On a warm Nashville afternoon last month, I called up U.K. punk band Boston Manor, only to find them 10 minutes from my hometown in New Jersey. After exchanging greetings and complimenting each other’s band shirts (my Brand New shirt and guitarist Ash Wilson’s Slipknot shirt), guitarists Ash Wilson and Mike Cunniff and I quickly got to discussing the band’s writing process, their fondest memories, and their rise to success.
Vanderbilt Hustler: So you guys will be in Nashville in about a month. Have you guys ever been here before?
Ash Wilson: Only once. We played Warped Tour in Nashville, which was cool. We got to walk around the Nashville strip and things like that.
VH: As guitarists, what does your writing process for the band look like? Do you find that it sort of starts more with the lyrics or do you guys go off on your own and bring stuff to the band?
AW: I think that it’s more of the latter. It’s kind of useful for us because we have Logic on our Macbooks so we can kind of go off by ourselves and have a bit of time to ourselves and write and bring everything to the table, and then everybody else chimes in and then we develop a song that way, as opposed to sitting in a practice room for hours and not really coming up with much.
Mike Cunniff: It’s way more productive, because you can stare at the music you’re doing as well and if you don’t like a part, you can change it.
VH: So your album (2016’s Be Nothing.) just dropped last year and it’s probably doing the best out of anything you guys have done. What was the writing process for that like? Was there a common theme that you were looking for to get across when you were writing it or was it more of just a natural thing?
AW: I think it was just trying to get as many songs together that we all liked and that all encompassed a theme. We did obviously think about it, we thought a bit more about what our influences were and stuff outside the realms of the scene and just tried to change it up a bit. We always say with EP’s you’re trying to get across a concise idea of what your band’s about in four tracks, but when we had 10-11 songs to play with we were able to try new ideas.
MC: You could explore a lot more with it.
AW: It was more about learning about who we were as a band and working with various producers and stuff like that.
VH: How long did that process take? Like, the full writing and then going and recording.
AW: So when we dropped the EP (2015’s Saudade), I think it was November of the year before, we were already writings songs for the album. We already had the album pretty much ready by the time the EP dropped and went into the studio for only like two weeks, which isn’t a lot of time to record an album. It was a lot of work to cram into that amount time but it all came out cool. It feels like years and years ago, because it was released last year but those songs are two years old. It’s weird to think that, like you’re releasing songs that are almost two years old, and by our standards is already dated. After we finished writing the songs we were already moving on to what we’re planning on doing next.
MC: I think that’s cool, though. I think we evolve at a nice pace.
VH: You guys definitely have a somewhat diverse range of artists that you cite as influences. Like I know you frequently will cite Brand New and Thrice and bands like that. But you’re (Ash) also wearing a Slipknot shirt right now and you’ve tweeted about Sigor Rós. Do you feel like, when you’re listening to and writing music, that it becomes a sum of all your influences or do you fracture off certain days?
AW: Yeah, as a band we have probably the most eclectic and diverse mix of interests that I’ve ever seen. A lot of bands it seems like listen to one thing exclusively and when it comes to writing it all ends up sounding like that one thing. But because we listen to shit that’s just so different I guess we just take parts from everything.
MC: Sometimes as well we can not listen to really anything and come out with something that we just feel is right and natural. Sometimes that’s better, as well, because I feel like you can come out with something that’s a bit more original and something that you, yourself, personally love and enjoy, rather than being confined to a genre. I feel like everyone that’s in a band should always be a fan of the music that they’re making rather than making it for other people. If other people like it I feel like that’s a bonus. I guess that way is a little bit selfish in a way, but I think that’s one of the best reasons to be in a band- is to write stuff that you want to hear.
VH: What would be some of the weirder stuff that you guys listen to that people wouldn’t expect?
AW: We don’t listen to a lot of things that I think people would say we listen to. A guy called King Krule. Other than that maybe Nine Inch Nails, Deftones, Tool, Marilyn Manson, Radiohead. A lot of hip-hop, as well, and hardcore. A lot of the stuff in scene- I don’t know why- it just doesn’t do it for us. I think when you’ve listened to pop-punk music and stuff like that, I feel like as musicians you’re always hungry for something that’s a little bit different. It can be tiring to listen to the same shit over and over again.
VH: Was there ever a moment, maybe in the past year or so, where you feel like you transcended that level of anonymity and realized that this was a real thing and that this was a viable career for you and that people are actually listening to you and it’s not just you and your friends anymore?
AW: I don’t really know when it was, but when we started out we played a lot of shitty shows. We played to just kind of each other and other bands that were on the bill. I think maybe that first Moose Blood tour, around that time.
MC: I think the first time we played Slam Dunk. And then the second time we played Slam Dunk it was even bigger. Slam Dunk is like a festival in the U.K., it’s about three days, it’s huge. When we hit that, I couldn’t believe how many people had come to watch us, it was spilling out of the room. The room was over capacity and they wouldn’t let more people into the room.
VH: Is there a pressure that comes with that, where realize that this is no longer just a hobby for you guys?
AW: I think the pressure comes when you realize that you no longer have time to work a normal job and you’re kind of relying on the band. At this point, we’re all putting all of our eggs in one basket, so to speak. I’m kind of over the pressure now, though. I’m kind of just enjoying really this thing we’ve got going and I want to see where it takes us and I hope it doesn’t stop going.
Tickets available here.