Written by Stephen Brolan.
The formation of The Boxer Rebellion, like so many of history’s wonders, was the result of pure chance: the crossing of paths at a London venue between American vocalist Nathan Nicholson and Aussie guitarist Todd Howe. As fate would have it Nicholson’s powerful yet ethereal vocals couldn’t have found a more perfect counterfoil in Howe’s relentless guitar assaults had he wailed imploringly into the catacombs of cyberspace for a willing accomplice. Completed by a supremely talented rhythm section in Englishmen Adam Harrison (bass) and Piers Hewitt (drums), The Boxer Rebellion set about making their eponymous debut EP, which was released in 2003 to a rapturous reception from press and public alike. This was followed in 2005 by debut album EXITS, with NME stating “This band will change your life,” and both The Fly magazine and MusicOMH dubbing the album “flawless”.
At almost precisely the same moment the album’s ill-fated label, Poptones, breathed its last, and so what should have been the grand campaign that brought The Boxer Rebellion to the world’s attention turned to dust, leaving the band on indefinite hiatus and returning to their day jobs. Their masterpiece debut, however, began to live a covert, underground life – being passed quietly from person to person until it had amassed itself a small army of feverishly devoted fans. Never failing to sell out venues in London or indeed across Europe, the band’s incendiary live shows - whenever they happened to manifest themselves - soon became the stuff of legend, underpinned always by performances of new songs well before they could ever be recorded.
Over the last 4 years, the guys have worked hard and saved diligently, pooling their resources and an unshakeable self-belief to finally give back to their enduring supporters by way of a second album that would surpass even the vertiginous ambitions of its predecessor. Very soon, word began to spread that the Boxers were back recording in London’s Fortress Studios, and the industry once again began to ruffle its collective feathers. The aptly-titled and self-produced UNION is the result of what can be achieved when sublime ability, relentless drive, and true commitment converge towards a shared, immovable goal.
First to be knocked out by the album’s might were the good people at iTunes US and UK, who announced that alongside a UNION album release, lead track ‘Evacuate’ would be their worldwide Free Single Of The Week on January 13th 2009 - an unprecedented move made even more remarkable given the band were, and remain, unsigned. And so finally, this jealously guarded secret, this preserve of a few, would be bought to the world’s attention with no record label backing whatsoever.
It has to be said that the belief within The Boxer Rebellion is as infectious as the songs that emerge from within it – a unity wherein every fibrous vocal, every skyward-bound chord, every heart-seizing beat feels like a hands-aloft leap of unassailable faith. This is The Boxer Rebellion – a collective heartbeat greater than the sum of its parts and well beyond any adversity that seeks to confront it.