Boys from the shop floor head for the red carpet

Only last year they were working in London clothes shops, selling suits and dresses.

Today an underground indie rock band called The Boxer Rebellion find themselves Hollywood celebrities, sharing red carpets and paparazzi flashes with Drew Barrymore.

They're still unsigned and have never troubled the singles charts, but that's set to change, now that The Boxer Rebellion are film stars. The band take a central role in Going the Distance, the big Warner Brothers release of the autumn, performing their own songs on stage with their name writ large on the backdrop and a packed audience screaming in appreciation. Not only that, Barrymore is depicted as one of their most ardent fans.

Her co-star Justin Long, who plays a record company A&R man, is shown excitedly logging in to the band's website and purchasing a CD at a gig. At a time when the music industry is financially stricken and record companies are playing every promotional trick in the book to raise the profile of their artists, The Boxer Rebellion have pulled off an unprecedented product placement deal without paying a penny.

Until early last year, lead singer Nathan Nicholson and bassist Adam Harrison had jobs at the London clothes shop Ted Baker, having previously worked in the shoe chain Office. "It was kind of embarrassing," said Nicholson. "There were a couple of times when I was serving customers and they would ask me, 'Are you in The Boxer Rebellion?'"

As they trod the red carpet at the world premiere of Going the Distance in London on Thursday, the band were swamped by autograph hunters, many of whom will not have known whose signatures they were collecting. On Monday, The Boxer Rebellion fly to Los Angeles for the US premiere.

The band was formed in 2001, shortly after Nicholson arrived in England from his native Tennessee. Harrison and drummer Piers Hewitt are British, and lead guitarist Todd Howe is Australian. They appeared at Glastonbury in 2003 and briefly signed to Alan McGee's Poptones label, which collapsed shortly after the release of their first album Exits. With the music business in decline their careers stagnated and they were obliged to make a living in retail. When they met their manager Sumit Bothra at the end of 2008, The Boxer Rebellion had another album of material but no cash to release it.

The band got a break when an iTunes executive, who had heard their ill-fated first album, offered to support the release of the second album, Union, as a download. It was popular enough for Bothra to persuade the band to "give up their day jobs" and hit the road.

Among the audience at The Boxer Rebellion's first US show, at The Troubadour in LA, was a group of film industry spotters looking for soundtrack material. They were so smitten that they advised the director Nanette Burstein, who was making Going the Distance, to attend a New York show. Impressed, Burstein invited the band to her Manhattan bar The Half-King, where she asked them if they would like to appear in the film. "At that time the script had a completely nondescript band that only appeared as a CD," said Bothra. The Boxer Rebellion were asked to contribute two tracks to the soundtrack, which is released on Monday.

The Boxer Rebellion were filmed performing "Evacuate" and "Spitting Fire" at the Southpaw club in Brooklyn, New York. A second gig, the climax of the movie, was filmed at the prestigious Bowery Ballroom in Manhattan, where they played "If You Run", written for the film. "The weirdest thing was that there was a room full of extras and they were going absolutely crazy," said Nicholson. "Then the director yells 'cut' and they go silent." The band will realise a dream on 23 September when they play the Bowery for real.

Although "If You Run" is the prelude to Barrymore and Long's characters being reunited, the previous draft of the script of Going the Distance left the two lovers in the limbo of a more ambiguous finale, for which the band made an alternative track, "Both Sides Are Even". But whatever the ending, this looks like just the happy beginning for The Boxer Rebellion.

Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tvReview: Bread-making skills of the Bake Off hopefuls put to the test
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
    eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

    eBay's enduring appeal

    The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

    Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

    Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
    Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

    Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

    After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
    Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

    Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

    After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
    Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

    Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

    Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

    The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home