Guitarist and songwriter Todd Howe was among the founding members of the Boxer Rebellion, along with American vocalist Nathan Nicholson and Brits Piers Hewitt and Adam Harrison on drums and bass, respectively. (Howe was born in Adelaide, Australia.) After partnering in 2009 with iTunes to market their second album, they remained an independent group, releasing their own recordings and touring around the world. In 2013, they issued their fourth album, “Promises.”
Late last month, Howe announced, via Twitter and Facebook, that he was leaving the Boxer Rebellion. This week, ReNew Music editor Jim Fusilli checked in by phone with Howe, who was in London.
RNM: I have to say I was shocked to hear you were leaving the band.
A: It was just a logical next step, and I think it was a logical next step for the guys as well. We’ve been together for 13 years. It wasn’t anything other than a decision that it’s time to move on and experience other things in life and be with my family. Being away from them was quite difficult.
Now, as I’m coming out the other side of the decision, I’m so proud of everything we’ve achieved. It’s a unique thing.
RNM: How so?
A: Being able, right from the start, to be in a band that was so independent. We had to struggle to overcome and be successful in our way. I wouldn’t say we pioneered a different business model, but we went out on our own and it worked. We were able to remain independent, retain control and dictate what we wanted to do.
RNM: When did you decide to make a change?
A: A couple of weeks ago. A day or two before the announcement.
A: (Laughs) I don’t think anyone in the band was surprised. We’re all so close. They knew my situation and knew what I was going through. I was married in November, and my wife Jessica and I are living in different countries – she’s in Phoenix now and I’m in London for the moment. We’ll be moving to Los Angeles, which is where we met. She was a fan of the band – still is. So Los Angeles has special meaning for us.
Also, I’m heavily in the production and mixing side of things, and I think I’d like to look at new opportunities.
RNM: You have a special relationship with Augustines.
A: Working with them, and on their behalf, is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I have complete adoration for their music, and I recognized the pure level of talent. The first song I heard in 2008, I was: ‘Oh my god, yeah.’ Our relationship grew, and when we traveled to NY, I’d meet with Bill (McCarthy) and Eric (Sanderson). Bill went through his tragedies. (Editor’s Note: McCarthy’s lost his brother to suicide) It was very difficult for them. I was able to keep their spirits up. I knew there was an audience out there for their music. I don’t have a formal business relationship with them. Do you know the Oracle from “The Matrix”? There’s some sort of weird Oracle vibe going on with us. I feel like the overseer and the protector. I’m so happy for them. They’ve been able to carve out career.
I was on stage with them last night. After the show, they took the whole audience, about 400 people, out into the street and played, and then took them to the pub and played some more.
RNM: Do you have a desire to manage?
A: I think so, if it’s right for me. But I’m only two weeks out of the Boxer Rebellion. I just want to breath the air right now and see how things unfold. I have a lot of experience that I can give back. I know how the business side works and I’ve been around the world with the band. If I do go into it, I will go in full bore. I consider myself to be a pretty good spotter of talent. But I’m still writing music. I didn’t think I’d do it so quickly. But it just hit me.
RMN: I don’t know if I could jump without a parachute like you’re doing, Todd.
A: I don’t really need a parachute. What’s the worse that can happen? I am very cautious and I do plan, so I’m not throwing caution to the wind. I’ve got a lot of ideas. When I talk about breathing space, I want to assess priorities. Like I said, I have a lot of opportunities.