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JoBoxers – This Time The Gloves Are Off!

For a while they were everywhere – on the radio, the TV and the covers of magazines – then, suddenly, they were gone. But now, at last, JoBoxers could be about to smash back onto the music scene – as bassist, Chris Bostock, explains to star-struck Huw Collingbourne…


JoBoxers - from left to right: Dig Wayne; Rob Marche; Sean McLusky; Chris Bostock; Dave Collard

Most other pop bands at the time were swanning around in frilly shirts and makeup – and then along came JoBoxers, all boots, bracers and attitude, pounding up the charts in 1983 with the annoyingly catchy Boxerbeat and the even catchier Just Got Lucky.

You might think this was a classic case of ‘overnight stardom’. I mean, according to legend, one day the band were running a second hand clothes stall and the next day they were on the covers of magazine and doing Top Of The Pops! (Yup, you’re right – I am jealous!)

JoBoxers – A Potted History
Bassist Chris Bostock, guitarist Rob Marche, keyboard player Dave Collard and drummer Sean McLusky first performed together as the backing band for singer, Vic Goddard in the early ’80s. After recording the album, Songs for Sale, in 1982, they split up and the four of them briefly went into business running a second-hand clothes stall on a street market. Here they met American singer, Dig Wayne, who was also running a market stall. They rapidly came to the conclusion that being pop stars might be moderately more entertaining than selling second hand clothes, so they formed a new band – JoBoxers. After getting a record with RCA, JoBoxers had a top ten hits with their singles, Boxerbeat and Just Got Lucky. This latter song featured in the 2005 movie, The 40 Year Old Virgin, which has helped to renew an interest in their music…

To keep up with the latest news on JoBoxers, visit their web site at:
www.joboxers.net

When I caught up with bassist, Chris Bostock, recently, the first thing I wanted to know is what the heck it feels like to wake up one morning and realize that you are a pop star…

“I don’t think it made a lot of difference to us,” he told me.

Yes, well, I’m not convinced. Like most boys, I always dreamed of becoming a pop star. Sadly, for me, it never happened. OK, so maybe that’s because I didn’t have the talent, the looks or the determination – but apart from that, I think I’d have been perfect for the job. I mean, heck, it must have been a terrific kick to see yourself staring out from the covers of Smash Hits and Jackie

“Nah. Appearing on the covers of teen magazines was just part of the process of promoting our music and style – it was all part of the game of introducing people to us.”

But, come on -  the first time you did Top Of The Pops, that must have been incredible!

“You have to remember that there was some anti-traditionalist feeling in the post punk era after the Clash refused to play on Top Of The Pops…”

But JoBoxers did the show even so. I remember seeing you!

“You’re right. We appeared on Top Of The Pops seven times in the early ‘80s. We tried to keep the performances feeling live and like our shows. Personally, I always felt the show was fairly progressive and entertaining. I was pleased to be a part of it."

“I think Top Of The Pops really flourished in the ‘60s when popular music was in one of its most pioneering stages. I remember being impressed by Jimmy Savile who used to present the show back then – he always had that ‘Pop Art’ look – you know, with his clothes and hair coloured white down one side and black down the other. Jimmy’s is a hard act to follow. And then, to me, the next pioneering age was the early ‘80s."

What about the ‘70s? You are not a fan of glam, punk and disco, I take it …?

“Oh yes - glam, punk and disco were certainly all influential movements, I was into Bowie, early funk and Chic but the early ‘80s was a special period as it came at the end of a steady stream of music scenes from Punk to New Wave to Ska to New Romantic.  It also seemed to work particularly well with Top of the Pops, being visual, colourful, innovative and entertaining.

“The early 80s has an easily identifiable sound, partly because of the abundance of well written pop songs and partly because of the technology of the time. It may be that it’s easier now, twenty or so years on, to see the eighties in perspective; to see it for what it really was. I feel that ‘entertainment and innovation’ are key elements of the 80’s that are often missed today."

So are there any bands today that you rate?

“Well, I quite like The Scissor Sisters, The Hives, The Strokes, The Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand.”

Looking back on those days, in the early ‘80s I mean, what was the most enjoyable thing about being in a successful band back then?

“The most enjoyable thing was seeing the hard work pay off and realising that going against the grain was the right thing – that’s particularly satisfying when you see the influence rub off on other groups.”

And the worst thing?

“I can’t think of anything bad about being in a successful band.”

TV shows and pop magazines in the ‘80s were always trying to get bands to do daft stuff. Were you ever asked to do any weird things?

“I think we must have been lucky here - maybe because we had a strong image.  We once had a request to take our clothes off for a French magazine! It didn’t go down too well, though, so we declined.”

Ah, what a missed opportunity! (Rushes off and takes a cold shower) Ahem, but to get back to the subject… After all the success you had with JoBoxers, how did you feel when it all came to an end?

“It was devastating because so much hard work had gone into it, only to evaporate into thin air. I tried to be philosophical – after all, we needed some kind of break after slogging flat-out for nearly four years. But that break just ended up being a bit too permanent! We should have left the door open for occasional shows as there are often requests for JoBoxers appearances at festivals. Thankfully, the music lives on through the ‘Anthology’ and ‘Essential Boxerbeat’ albums.”

Was it a conscious decision to call it a day or was there a ‘falling out’?

“No, there wasn’t a ‘falling out’. We were just tired out because we had taken it all very seriously for a long time and needed a break to try out different projects, these projects then gradually led us further apart.

“Anyhow, after the break, we all achieved success in different musical projects – the list is lengthy. I worked with the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart on albums, touring and other projects in LA as a member of the Spiritual Cowboys before going on to produce bands for major labels. I also played sessions with the Style Council, Sandie Shaw, Shakespear’s Sister, Rhythm Sisters and many more. Also a short stint in A & R.

"Last year I gained a Master’s Degree at London South Bank University – it’s an MSc in Advanced Information Technology, which I did because I wanted to experience other technologies and it enabled me to get involved in areas such as multimedia.”

You started the JoBoxers web site recently. What prompted that? Is it the prelude to something new from the group?

“There is actually something big in the pipeline. We are in negotiations to release the long lost ‘third album’ which has never been heard. Twelve tracks in total, all in the spirit of Boxerbeat and Just Got Lucky. If we were re-united tomorrow, this is what we would play. When the band went their separate ways, the album was abandoned and left in a vacuum.  It represents an unheard section of the ‘80s which never saw the light of day but still sounds fresh and formidable today.  For news on this, keep an eye on the website.
  
You say “if we were reunited”. Is that more than just “if”…?

“It’s always going to be hard to do anything long term when some of the group live in London and some in the States but with a new release there will be no shortage of new material ready to perform. Festivals could be a distinct possibility. Other groups in a similar position seem to manage to make appearances when opportunities arise; you just never know what’s around the corner…”

February 2006

 

 

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