Boston Manor: “Sundiver is a journey into the blissful, glowy world we’re creating”

Boston Manor are back with the second piece of the Datura puzzle, in the form of Sundiver. Here, frontman Henry Cox dives into how the album came together, making perhaps the best song of their career, working with Heriot’s Debbie Gough, and much more…

Boston Manor: “Sundiver is a journey into the blissful, glowy world we’re creating”
Rishi Shah
Megan Doherty

Over three years in the making, Boston Manor’s long-awaited two-part album finally has its second disc – and it goes by the name of Sundiver. The companion to 2022’s 5/5-rated LP Datura will arrive on September 6, less than two weeks before the Blackpool five-piece head out on their biggest-ever UK headline tour – which includes an enormous date at London’s 2,300-capacity O2 Forum Kentish Town.

The news comes alongside the release of the record’s third single, the melodic alt.rock masterclass HEAT ME UP. It’s a sharp twist from the swashbuckling heaviness of Sliding Doors and the agitation of Container, mixing its moody verse – which is straight out of the ’90s – with a soaring chorus, perhaps their finest since 2018’s Halo. Frontman Henry Cox sounds positively invigorated, outpouring his appreciation for the loved ones in his life.

“It is a love song”, he tells Kerrang! at his home in Manchester. “It’s a song about gratitude and being humble, appreciating the people that you have in your life and how lucky you are to have them. Plain and simple.”

Since the birth of his daughter last December, the completion of Sundiver marked a transformative period in his life – and Boston Manor’s – in more ways than one. Emerging from the dark places that permeate Datura was a topsy-turvy process, which clearly shines through on Sundiver.

With influences ranging from Deftones and My Bloody Valentine to Radiohead and The Neighbourhood, the band went in search of a more blissful sound, complemented by its heavier moments – including a monstrous feature from Heriot on the closing track DC Mini.

In an exclusive interview, we get the scoop on Sundiver from Henry himself, who tells us why the redemption story that underpins the album is able to slot right alongside Datura…

Our belated congratulations on becoming a father, Henry. How’s parenting treating you?
“It’s pretty psychedelic. She's coming to 2000trees this year! So she'll get [her] first live music experience, which I'm excited for.”

Your new album Sundiver is part two of the double album. Was it written alongside Datura?
“They were written separately, deliberately. We didn't want to write songs that were just going to sit in a vault for two years and be emotionally outdated at that time. We conceived the concept in the pandemic, the double record – dawn and dusk, two contrasting parts. But we didn't want to write the dawn part when we were still fucking around at 4am, metaphorically. We needed to get there ourselves. We actually finished mastering the record a few weeks ago, so it’s been right to the wire.”

What is it about Sundiver that complements Datura so well?

“I think it’s this complete contrast, you know. It’s littered with Easter eggs and references, there’s stuff that we wrote on Datura to reference stuff what we knew we were going to do on Sundiver, and vice-versa. What we were chasing was this big, bright guitar sound that was really dense, weighty and full, which didn’t sound completely happy. We wanted the feeling of this hazy, wavy mirage in the distance to all the songs. A throughline and sonic aesthetic that's going through the record, and it's all in the guitar.

“We also wanted to pump Datura full of electronics, and then take them entirely away for Sundiver. For the most part, it's traditional rock instruments. Thematically, there is a story that's told throughout the two records, which flow seamlessly on from one another. The same sample that you hear at the very end of Datura is what starts off Sundiver. There’s markers that mark each hour of this 24-hour period as well.”

What’s the optimal way to listen to them – back to back, or over the course of the 24-hour period which you describe?
“I’ve never even thought about that. They're such products of where and when they were recorded. We made Sundiver mostly in the summer, in a studio in Welwyn Garden City that had a private garden. We had barbecues every day! Even if it was raining, we just cooked dinner on the barbecue. There was a meadow across the road, it was pastoral and idyllic. Maybe those are the contexts to listen to the two records, in different seasons. I'm sure at some point, we will release it as a full double album – with a bunch of extra shit.”

HEAT ME UP feels like one of the strongest singles you’ve ever released. Did you feel you’d unlocked something magic?
“That was the first song that we wrote on the album, it was quite a skeletal song to put together. Usually when that happens, there's a reason it was easy to write. It was just flowing out of us. People kept coming back to us saying, ‘That tune’s fucking sick.’ I guess when you're in something so deep, you don't really have the ability to be super objective about things, because everything is attached to how you made it.

“Container was the hardest fucking song to write – there's 46 different versions of that song. There's a version that sounds like Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal. You do not want to hear it, it's fucking terrible! That song took forever to put together, and I started to fall out of love with it for a while. Though once the rest of the record was there, things clicked and we just popped it into place.”

The record has its darker moments, too. Why I Sleep feels somewhat of a turning point…
“We didn't want it to just be this one-note record, emotionally, where the sun's come out and everything's great. When we made Datura, I was drinking loads and not in the best place. I'm not anymore, but you don't just flick a switch, and then everything's fixed. We wanted to take you on a journey of redemption, it [doesn’t] immediately go to 10 where everything's hunky-dory. Every redemption story has moments where you fail, and you have to pick yourself up and try again. That [song] is one of those moments, accepting the path to success or happiness isn’t gonna be an easy one.

“I had boundless confidence when I was in my early 20s. Now, I spend a lot of time second-guessing every little decision that I make. I went through a period last year when I fucking hated this public perception of me. I wondered how much longer I could do this, because I didn’t like how I came across, and I didn’t wanna have this anvil around my neck of my own self-doubt. In part, the album is trying to touch on the countless moments that we go through all the time. I’ve had more of those moments as I’ve gotten older, unfortunately. But with it, I’ve also found a great deal of inner peace. I suppose that’s the duality of the record, in a roundabout way.”

Debbie Gough from Heriot features on the closing track DC Mini. How did that collaboration come about?
“With the bridge and the outro, we wanted to do a big wall of sound. That's where the shoegaze stuff comes into it, layering guitars without trying to make things heavy, but still dense. That's why we asked Debbie to feature on that track. Wouldn't it be cool if we did a blackgaze thing here? We'd recently toured with Heriot, Debbie's vocals are so good. She's an incredible singer, as well as her screams, so we had [her] do some backing vocals. I really love the way that our voices work together.”

It’s not the typical track you’d expect Heriot to feature on…
“On Sliding Doors, we talked with loads of heavy bands. We could have asked someone like Bryan [Garris] from Knocked Loose to do a feature because if we were gonna have somebody who screams, this would be the song. But then we thought, wouldn't it be really cool if Debbie featured on a song that you wouldn't expect Heriot to ever be involved with? It's cool, because it leaves you guessing until the last third of the song.”

Finally, what does the title of Sundiver represent?
“It’s a journey into this blissful, glowy world we’re creating. Leaping into daylight, really.”

Boston Manor's new album Sundiver is released September 6 via SharpTone. They tour the UK this September – get your tickets now

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