Hardcore pioneers Boysetsfire are back with a bang, seven years after their groundbreaking album “Misery Index – Notes From The Plague Years”. With a new record, their own label and new shows – the departure from the past, coupled with a fervent inner drive, makes the band’s new album “While A Nation Sleeps…” (June 7, 2013) perhaps the most important hardcore release of the year.
Boysetsfire has been a driving force in the hardcore scene since 1994, achieving the fine balance between furious old-school hardcore and melodic punk rock hooks like no other band to date. Nathan Gray is an often-disputed frontman, but also a unique spearhead whose charismatic presence has stamped a unique mark on Boysetsfire for over two decades. From humble beginnings playing basement shows in squats to supporting Metallica and playing at the world’s largest festivals (Rock Am Ring, Lollapalooza, Warped Tour, Leeds/Reading, Hurricane), Boysetsfire has become an institution in the hardcore scene and one of the most hard-working bands in the industry, with over 1,000 shows under their belt and 200,000 albums sold worldwide.
Frontman Nathan Gray describes the band’s beginnings and how the name came about and talks about the band’s upcoming fifth album:
“When we were just starting this band, we would create little flyers with cryptic pictures and esoteric slogans written on them and paste them around the sleepy little town we were from; the tiny village of Newark, Delaware. One in particular has stuck in our collective psyches. It was a clip-art picture of the classic 50s businessman, pipe and scotch in hand. Over him loomed a sniper’s rifle and the script, “While America Sleeps - Boy Sets Fire.”
“While A Nation Sleeps...” will be released in June 2013 and represents one step back for the band as well as two steps forward. Boysetsfire continues to be affected by their tumultuous experiences with major labels, which, despite launching the US five-piece on the global stage with the 2003 album “Tomorrow Come Today”, also shed light on the profit-driven nature of multinational recording companies. In the run-up to the production of the band’s most-recent studio album “The Misery Index” (which ended up being released on acclaimed punk rock/indie label Burning Heart Records due to an ongoing dispute with major Wind Up Records), Boysetsfire quickly found themselves never wanting to have to bow to the commercial interests of others again. Other bands probably would have crumbled under the pressure and the problems that arose over subsequent years: Management chaos, dozens of tours, new members, side projects, a hiatus, an acclaimed reunion show in Berlin (in front of 6,000 people), more new members, and so on, and so on.
In late 2012, the band came to a point where a decision had to be made: all or nothing? And they went for it all.
In January 2013, Boysetsfire began recording “While A Nation Sleeps…” which was produced by guitarist Chad Istvan in his own studio. Only the band members themselves or close friends were given access to the recording sessions. The album was then mixed by Lou Giordano, someone with vast experience in bringing together the angular guitar sounds of bands such as Hüsker Dü or Sunny Day Real Estate.
Boysetsfire also decided to return to familiar ground with the album’s release too. Together with long-time friend of the band and tour manager Oise, the band founded the label End Hits Records to provide a platform for Boysetsfire’s own output in Europe. Never again would outsiders be permitted to threaten the existence of such a fragile construct.
During recording, Nathan Gray found it difficult to pinpoint a particular theme for the new album: “There is nothing concrete, and there are no themes...much like every BSF album before, the lyrical content is an outburst of love, anger, hope, and the inspiration to question everything. BSF does not dictate what people must take from their songs. These songs are and always will be open to the interpretation of the listener. We are merely "cheerleaders" for the want of something more and the lust for life. Enjoy.”
However, themes that have become important to Boysetsfire still remain. Never before have the US hardcore band committed themselves to the needs of others to such an extent. Together with a group of close friends, the band helped raise almost €10,000 for a youth center threatened with closure in the Bavarian town of Zwiesel. The band has also recognized the signs of the times and focused their activities on environmentally friendly fairtrade merchandise. This bunch of teenagers who used to spend their time printing out black and white flyers has grown up into a group of men who are passing the baton of the hardcore scene on to younger generations without losing contact with their fanbase.
On April 20, Boysetsfire will release their first new output for over seven years as part of Record Store Day. Their 7” single “Bled Dry” is perhaps the heaviest track they’ve ever written. In the accompanying video, a staccato film shows the audience all the cruelty this world has to offer, with more anger and distress in two minutes than most can bear.
The new album “While A Nation Sleeps...” is set to follow on June 7, and showcases once more the band’s unique ability to combine crushing hardcore with melodic choruses, despairing angst with a hope that never fades: “Writing this record was a true labor of love. We didn't want to do this record, we had to do it. Something inside us still ached and we needed to share it with you. 20 years later we still want to inspire. We still want to provide the impetus that inspires. But now we see that we are part of a global community. So we are proud to give you “While A Nation Sleeps... Boy Sets Fire.”
- Until Nothing Remains
- Heads Will Roll
- Phone Call (4am)
- Everything Went Black
- Save Yourself
- Reason to Believe
- Far From Over
- Let It Bleed
- Never Said
- Wolves of Babylon
- Altar of God
FUZE #40 - S.32
"Sieben Jahre sind eine lange Zeit im schnelllebigen Musikgeschäft. So lange liegt die letzte Veröffentlichung von BOYSETSFIRE zurück. Während die Band im Dornröschenschlaf darauf wartete, wieder zum Leben zu erwachen, hat sich die Welt verändert. Finanzkrise, Regierungswechsel in den USA, Arabischer Frühling und diverse weitere Folgen von Globalisierung und Kapitalismus zeugen von einer Gesellschaft im Wandel. Musikalisch hat sich nicht minder viel getan, doch BOYSETSFIRE blieben auch nach ihrer Auflösung im Jahr 2007 in den Köpfen und Herzen ihrer Fans präsent. Mit der Veröffentlichung von „While A Nation Sleeps ...“ folgt nun der letzte logische Schritt der Wiedervereinigung. Dabei knüpfen die Musiker nahtlos an vergangene Produktionen an, was einerseits überrascht, andererseits aber auch ein- leuchtet, legt man die Aussage der Band zugrunde, dass das Album hauptsächlich auf bereits vorher vorhandenen Ideen und Demos basiert. Mit im Kern zeitlosen sozialkritischen Botschaften sind BOYSETSFIRE im Jahr 2013 angekommen und transportieren Wut ohne Hass, Hoffnung ohne Resignation und Kritik ohne Belehrung. Die Band ist und bleibt eine unumstrittene Größe im Hardcore-Genre."