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Boxer Rebellion Goes the Distance

Singer Nate Nicholson will take Key West over a UK winter

By William Harries Graham, 10:07AM, Wed. Oct. 16, 2013

TKO: (l-r) Todd Howe, Nate Nicholson, Adam Harrison, Piers Hewitt
TKO: (l-r) Todd Howe, Nate Nicholson, Adam Harrison, Piers Hewitt

Having played last year’s ACL Fest, the Boxer Rebellion returns to Austin tonight at the Parish. The UK pop quartet became one of my favorites after I discovered them in the romantic comedy Going the Distance.

I caught up with singer Nate Nicholson as the band heads out on an October U.S. trek. Living in England, Nicholson’s an American expatriate who says he’s “absurdly normal.” His idea of the perfect outing sounds readymade for fall.

“Beach, beer, family, friends, and some type of meat being barbequed,” he says. “Basically, a trip to Key West.”

Austin Chronicle: How did you get involved in the movie Going the Distance?

Nate Nicholson: A few people from New Line Cinema came out to our first ever show in the U.S. at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. It snowballed from there. Just being able to walk onto a film set was cool enough. However, having the chance to write a song for a film was quite special and something I hope we have the opportunity to do again.

AC: How has the UK influenced your music?

NN: I think the weather influences more. We wrote [May’s fourth full-length] Promises in London and finished the recording off in Los Angeles. L.A. in January is way nicer than London in January. Sunshine or dreary rain can definitely change the mood.

AC: UK vs. USA?

NN: The thing I miss most about the U.S. is usually the state of mind of people. I miss the South and how laid back most people are. Everyone is very courteous and willing to help. I’m sure nostalgia plays a part. On the flipside, I’ve lived in England for 13 years, so that’s where I feel at home most and where my family is.

AC: What’s one of your secrets?

NN: That my middle name is Ward after a great uncle of mine and I enjoy the fact that I’m going gray.

AC: First big break?

NN: Our break was when our second album, Union, was featured on iTunes and we had their first ever worldwide “Single of the Week.” It immediately made us a global band.

AC: Your most memorable performance thus far?

NN: My favorite gig was probably when we played Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London a few years ago. I’d seen so many big bands there and we’d played the London circuit so many years that it was more than just a gig for us. The same could be said for the Paradiso in Amsterdam. And playing The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show were wonderful moments for us and hugely special.

AC: Advice to bands starting out?

NN: Write constantly even when you think you’ve got enough songs for a record. I’ve learned just as many things from writing bad songs as I have from the good ones. It was also important for us to play together as a band for a long time. And, I know it’s not what musicians want to hear, but if you’re wanting to actually make a career in music you have to learn a little bit about the business.

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