Interview: Boston Manor's Mike Cunniff

During their huge takeover of the Slam Dunk mainstage, Blackpool's Boston Manor looked as confident and bold as ever before. We caught up with guitarist Mike Cunniff to talk politics, food and taking a step up.


Your latest album Welcome to the Neighbourhood has some serious and commentary on the world - what is your opinion on the music vs politics debate in your career?

A big part of me feels like at that point in our career it was hard to ignore what was going on in the country. The record is very angry and does touch on politics a little, but it's more about the society we live in and people. I feel like politics is in the news all the time especially with Brexit, but music for us is more about the escape. We want to take people away from all of that.


People shouldn't look to musicians for politics, we don't know shit. Follow people who are well-informed and well-educated. We all really love Gallows' Grey Britain and that almost predicted everything going on today ten years ago which is amazing but for the mostpart the album is to do with the town. We used our town as an example for the rest of the world.



Have you felt like the huge rise in popularity lately has changed your working dynamic?

I don't really know - we've always been a steadily-growing band and I feel like it's hard to see the progress from the inside. It's only really by the size of the shows. The crowd reactions have been really good and the album has been received really well so I don't know about the popularity but I do know our fans really care about us. That's all that matters. We're not trying to be rockstars or anything; if we can get our music to more people that's one thing, so I think things are going really well.


In terms of live shows, you have far larger stages to fill now - how has your show adapted to fill the space?

Honestly, we do what we've always tried to do. We play every show like we're playing a DIY club show just to be a presence. When we have a big stage like Slam Dunk's main stage, we just use the space we have. Sometimes I used to find we were so far away from the crowd that it felt disjointed and didn't have good interaction but when you settle into it everything seems more comfortable.


What's your favourite song to play live now?

Probably If I Can't Have It, No One Can. It's just a rowdy punk song and it gets pretty chaotic onstage, the crowd go nuts for it. It's loads of fun.



How has your Slam Dunk experience changed from when you first played to this year?

Because we're older and more experienced, it's less about the party and more about the chilling. Obviously the first time we were really excited, but every Slam Dunk is consistently amazing. This year has probably been my favourite one though, even though it's rained. It's awesome coming back every couple of years and doing it, it's a really great mark of progress. I love the new sites, it's easier to get around, everything ran like clockwork. The Leeds date was really cool because not many festivals set up in the middle of a city but I dig the traditional festival vibe.


Who did you watch across the weekend? Any new favourites?

We've got a load of friends from the US now so we've done the rounds to see all those, but all our favourite bands were playing times near us. Wallflower, Trophy Eyes but I manages to catch some of their set, Microwave, Gallows, Glassjaw. Other than that, it's been chilling really.


What do you eat on tour?

In America, a lot of Taco Bell. There's an amazing thing they do called 'Feed the Beat' where they give $500 gift card vouchers to bands so you can really stretch it over the tour. Everything is customisable too so you can make a delicious vegan wrap or burrito, whatever you want. For the mostpart, the meat can be a bit dicey but is pretty healthy, but we try to eat as much fruit and veg as we can. It's important to stay healthy because we're out more than home so if we go out and drink every day and eat junk you won't last very long. We're all pretty healthy at home anyway.


What can we expect going forward?

We've got a lot of new music coming out this year and we'll be writing and recording a new album so we're excited. We've hit a point where we've tapped into something writing Welcome to the Neighbourhood and we're really excited about what we're doing. That's not to say we weren't before but we're the most comfortable writing this kind of music. We've been wanting to do it since we started as a band but we've been figuring out a way to do it.


Four bands for a lineup of any era - who would they be and where?

Deftones, Nirvana, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, and we'd just watch. It sounds like it would be a festival and I'd love to put it on, but probably in the UK and definitely outdoors.



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