THE BOXMASTERS Latest Album, SPECK, Makes A Big Mark!
By Vernon L. Gowdy III
The Boxmasters are an American rock and roll band founded in Bellflower, California in 2007 by Billy Bob Thorton (Bud) and J.D. Andrew. The Boxmasters have released eight albums which are focused on their love of music from the 1960’s with influences from The Beatles, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Big Star (rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee by former singer/songwriter of the band The Box Tops) and more. Previous albums have also had some darker music inspired by Johnny Cash and John Prine.
From the NEW Album SPECK: "Let the Bleeding Pray"
The Boxmasters teamed up with legendary producer/engineer Geoff Emerik for their album, Speck in which Geoff had called "One of the most exciting projects I've worked on since The Beatles." Geoff is known for working on the Beatle' albums "Revolver," "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Paul McCartney's "Band on the Run" album released in 1973. Geoff had also worked on albums by Badfinger, The Zombies, America and more.
The Boxmasters' new album, Speck features eleven songs: "I Wanna Go Where You Go," "Anymore," "Shut The Devil Up," "Let The Bleeding Pray," "Here She Comes," "Days Gone," "Watchin' The Radio," "Someday," "Square," "Speck," and "Somebody To Say."
J.D. Andrew, grammy award winning recording engineer, guitarist, vocalist and Billy Bob Thornton (Bud) vocalist and drummer took the time to talk to me on the phone prior to the June 7, 2019 release date of their new album, Speck.
JAM: Before I ask some obvious questions I want to start out with a question that's pretty much out of order but I just want to know out of curiosity. This is for J.D. and for Bud, what was the first record album that you remember buying as a kid? Mine was the The Monkees, Introducing the Monkees and they had a song, "Last Train to Clarksville."
J.D.: I'm trying to remember because you know, I've been asked this question a bunch of times and the main record I remember listening o all the time as a little kid was a Chipmunks record where they had beetle wings on it. I found that record in my collection back in my parents house when I was home for Christmas, but I still can't remember what the name of the record was. I was a huge Chipmunks fan when I was a little kid and I listened to those songs alto until I was little older and then I really got into The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean and southern California music. So, my first record I think was a Chipmunks records but it could have been one of those Beach Boys hits compilations or one of the ones that had all the surfing and car songs on it. It's hard for me to remember but it's stuff that really influenced me and kind of put me onto the path to musical geekery. And Bud, do you remember what your first record or album that you bought when you was young that you really kind of, you know influenced you. Or you really had to go buy.
Billy: Now, are you talking about the first record I had or the first record I actually bought?
JAM: I'd say either one. Like the first record that you bought or had that you really played over and over that kind of influenced you, so to speak. You really enjoyed it, you really had to have it.
Billy: Well, the first one, the first album I had was given to me by my mother and that was the King Creole's soundtrack by Elivs.
JAM: Wow, okay.
Billy: I loved that record. The first record I bought was the 45 of "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
JAM: Oh, wow.
Billy: That's the one that made me go, yeah. Yeah sometime I'd like to do this.
JAM: Okay. That's what I wanted to hear. That's so cool. I was reading over your bios and I listened to all your songs last night. And I really liked about six of the songs. They're kick ass. And obviously I'm going to ask some questions that everybody's asking. Everybody wants to know about the producer, Geoff. And what I want to know is, I read some bio about Geoff and I know that he did some of the classic Beatle albums. My particular favorite one was the one that he did with Paul McCartney on Band on the Run. I used to play that 8-track forever. And my question is, I know that you were friends with him but how did you actually get him to finally come to the studio and work on your album? Because I know that J.D. previously engineered all the previous albums. What made you decide for this change?
Billy: Well he's been asking us for a long time. We've known him for years. And he was always saying, one of these days I want to mix some of your songs.
Billy: And it just so happened that he'd been by the studio and seen and met with the studio manager and them while we were recording. And they were just talking and he said, "what are those guys up to?" and she said, "oh, they're here making a new record". And so, I didn't have Jeff's number anymore and she gave it to me and I called him and he said, "well you know I'd love to have a crack at mixing a song". And we mixed one song and they go, okay that sounds like that Beatle stuff. So we said, oh let's see and release the records. So that's how it came about. So, we didn't talk him into it because it was just a conversation that was, that had been happening over the years but it just happened to work out this time. And we're willing to give it a shot and he was too. And we all loved it. So that's a great thing to have, the record producer I have. It's really an honor for us you know? And he loved the band too. He wasn't doing it just for the hell of it. He actually was a big fan of the band, and loves mixing our music. He'd heard you know, other records of ours too. He'd come to some listening parties we had at different records; things like that.
So, I have a question for you, just pique my curiosity. You said there's six of the songs on the album you really liked. But I'm more curious about the ones you don't like.
JAM: Well, I'll tell you what. Not that I don't like them, but I will get through them. Last night I listened to all of them, I took notes. There was one song I didn't understand so I'm going to ask you later. But I took notes on all the songs and I have all 11 songs here with the lyrics. There's a couple songs I want to ask you about the lyrics per se, so I will go through it. I promise.
JAM: But my next question is, which I know that Geoff was a very strong advocate of analog technology versus digital. Now my question is, did your studio have the big old tapes of analog where he could actually go in there and do his thing as far as the special sound effects and all that kind of stuff? Or how'd that work out anyway, you know?
J.D.: Well, it did and we recorded everything with consoles which we've always done as a necessary evil because we record so much that hard drives are a lot cheaper than tape. And finding a tape machine that works is always hit or miss. So we've always just stuck to personals and using a DAW because of the ease of use and also because I do a lot of the work at my house where I don't have a tape machine but I have a pro tools series. So I can always take things from the studio, come home and work on them. Take them back to the studio, and it's just easier for us to do that kind of stuff. And Jeff, when he mixed the record he mixed it from pro tools but he incorporated some of his old tricks, you might say. He was using tape machines for vocals, slack backed delays. He was using other techniques and a lot of you know, analog, outboard gear and compression and equalizers and a lot of the equipment that's still analog. And he used an amazing old API console; which just sounds really, really good. So he used as much analog as he could but it was coming from a digital format. And he mixed down to half inch tape which was then sent over to Ron McMaster at Capitol Mastering and he mastered the record and made up some CDs and vinyl records for us.
JAM: When he was doing some of his special effects, I was reading the bio about, did he let you watch him do some of the effects? Or his he secretive about it and did he care that you knew how he did certain techniques? Was he pretty much protective about that, you know?
J.D.: Well, that's a good question because, I went to Jeff's memorial at Capitol Records, four or five months after his passing. So it was sometime, December or January, whichever it was; and there was an endless stream of people who got up and they had a microphone open where people could talk and share some stories about Geoff and things. And there was person after person who said how free and giving he was with his knowledge and all of his techniques and things that he had learned and pioneered and invented. And I just sat there and I thought back to that first song that Geoff mixed. I was trying to ask him how he did the vocal effects on "I Wanna Go Where You Go." And I asked him, said, "Geoff, how did you do that? What is that sound? It sounds like a lot of different things. It sounds like the effects you did on John Lennon. What did you do? Can you tell me what you did?" And he was like, no.
JAM: Now, why do you think he said that? Do you have any idea on why he would not want to tell you? I mean...
J.D.: He was a cranky old Englishman who I think delighted in just a... yeah.
JAM: He liked the mystery, his secret. Is that what it was?
J.D.: I think he was just giving me shit, is basically what it was.
JAM: Oh, okay.
J.D.: But I didn't ask again. But all these people were saying how much they had learned from Geoff and the things he had taught them. And I just, kind of hanging my head because that wasn't the case for me. But perhaps if I was coming at it, I was a guitar player, bass player, and you know, the musician aspect rather than an engineer. So maybe he's more open to sharing tricks with engineers than musicians. But I don't know. It's hard to say. Just being able to listen to it, the stuff he did, is still pretty good.
JAM: Speaking of that first song; I played every song last night and this is my first time. Now, I will be honest, I haven't previously listened to the older Boxmasters albums and Jeremy turned me onto you guys. So I played every song. And I'm 64 years old so I like the old 60s and 70s sound. I grew up with The Beatles, The Monkees and Pink Floyd and all that kind of stuff, you know. And I heard this song, "I Wanna Go Where You Go," and I just, I liked it right off the bat. I liked it the first time. You know how some songs you got to play several times before you like it. But this song, I liked it the first time I heard it. And it made me feel good. The song gave me a good feeling. There was a couple lyrics in there I want to ask you about. I like this one line that goes, "Tomorrow's even worse than yesterday" and then "Cause living without you is the only jail I know."
And then the last one I like is, "You're lying to yourself but you ain't fooling me, don't put me on the shelf if you won't set me free". I thought that was kind of cool.
Billy: Well, that's really just a song about telling somebody, even though you hate yourself, I don't. So don't run me off. It's just like you know, it's trying to tell a person that they're better than they think they are. And they're trying to do you a favor by saying, hey don't hook up with me because I'm not worth this shit. And you're trying to tell them, why don't you let me be the judge of that, you know.
JAM: Okay. Now on that song right there, like on this song, how long did it take you to write that? What kind of inspiration did it take? Can you kind of remember when you first got the idea for, "I Wanna Go Where You Go." I mean, how'd that come to be?
Billy: That was a while ago, back in our old studio, the Cave. And we were working on a record, and these specifically a 60s sounding record. And a lot of times your chorus melodies come first. I remember on that one that the verse melody came first.
Billy: And a lot of times I'll be singing a melody around the house and keep playing a few chords and come up with a melody and I'll instantly sing what the song ends up being.
Billy: And in that case, that's what happened. And I'm not real sure where it came from other than, actually I'm probably in my life, that's probably not me singing to someone else saying that. It's probably what I'm wishing somebody would sing to me because I'm the one that don't think I'm worth a shit. I think that song is probably more directed at me than it was this person in the song.
JAM: Okay. Well, I think it's a great song. Like I said, I played it the first time and I liked it automatically the first time. And I thought that was kind of cool, so. I just think it's very catchy. I have another question for you on these songs. On this one song called "Here She Comes," now this song was written by all three of you guys. And this song, correct me if I'm wrong but, I live out here in Grady County in Oklahoma, we get a lot of tornadoes and twisters. Now, is that a tornado? A hurricane? Because when I read this song, I had this imagery of, it was almost like a romantic disaster. Can you kind of like explain. Is this a personal experience? What does this song exactly mean?
Billy: Well, it's about a tornado.
JAM: Okay, that's what I thought.
Billy: The thing about it is, most the time in rock and roll, when you sing the lyrics like that, you're really talking about a girl.
JAM: I know.
Billy: But in this case, I'm really not talking about a girl. What the song is about, because the bigger picture of the album, which is called Speck, it's about how we're all you know, specks of dust in the universe and how much bigger nature and the universe is then we are as individuals. So we have songs about our individual problems, our personal problems. We have a song on there about the homeless, we have a song about not wanting the government to listen to everything we say. We have songs that are questioning our own government. So it's everything from the personal to the global. And that's why the album's called Speck, because you know, you got worthy, little people but they're big problems. But we also have our own little problems you know, but they might be big to us. And one of the reasons that this song is on the album is because it's about the beauty and the awesome part of nature. The serious power in nature. But it's also about the devastation that the beauty can leave behind.
JAM: Yes. I know.
Billy: And so, this song is literally about a tornado. And I was raised in Arkansas, so I spent my life with snakes and tornadoes.
JAM: Yeah, me too. We lost our house in 1999 from a tornado. So I have a personal experience with this and so I relate to that. But at the same time, the song is almost like a romantic tragedy so to speak. You know, where it talks about tragedy but then again it's kind of... I don't know. I just thought maybe it might be a personal experience, you know.
Billy: It's the beauty and power of nature and the devastation and sorrow it leaves behind. And so in other words, here she comes. It's like you know what that means. You know? I feel like when you hear the rumbling train, you know what's coming. And when you look at it from a distance you can look at it in awe because it's so powerful and amazing. Nature does that. But then once it's come to your town, there's a line in there that says, she took a souvenir too, meaning basically the buildings and people and everything else. You know a cow or two maybe three.
JAM: That's true.
Billy: You know, it's literally about the beauty beforehand and the devastation after a tornado.
JAM: I totally agree on that. Another song I found very catchy was Square. One thing I liked about it, on the lyrics, the one line you say is, "Surfing around our square, hoping someday you'll be awake". I like the fact you're surfing around a square. Non conformity going to the side of conform and beyond. It just kind of blew me away. I like the way at the very ending you had these horns and trumpets and you had this fade out thing. Can you kind of go through that song? How did Square come about?
Billy: Well, the meaning behind the song is about a bunch of little boys who, one wants to explore life more and you know, it's like a bored couple basically. So circling around the square means walking around your house kind of avoiding each other and one of them saying, come on let's go out again. Let's do stuff. It's like, what's wrong with you? It's like you look at this dull guy running around the house here, but the fact of the matter is if you'd just come with me every now then. And the deeper meaning, well not the deeper meaning of it, the means by which this guy does that is, she didn't want to take acid with him.
That's what I mean by, next time I go out to see.
JAM: It sound like a Grateful Dead concert there. All right, cool.
Billy: The circling around the square, the opening tune audio, is supposed to be aware not awake. I don't know if there was a misprint there or what.
J.D.: It's all my fault. And it's probably wrong on record, or-
JAM: It's supposed to be awake. No, it says aware on it. It does. Hoping someday you'll be aware. It's okay.
J.D.: You made me real nervous.
JAM: No, it says aware.
Billy: I got nervous for a minute because awake doesn't rhyme with square.
JAM: I may have read it wrong. Excuse me on that part. Okay.
I wanted to back track on one thing. Bud, on one thing, back when I was in my college days at University of Oklahoma, the daily newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily; I did a story on roadies, okay? I spent one night being a roadie at a Willie Nelson show and then the Commodores show, so it's two different extremes. I read something that you were a roadie in your early years. What made you become a roadie and can you kind of describe; how young were you and how long did you do that and what was the purpose of that? Can you kind of give me a little story thing about the roadie thing?
Billy: Well, my band in high school, we had an agent in Little Rock and they also owned a sound company.
Billy: The biggest sound company in those days was out of Dallas called Showco.
JAM: That's who I worked with as a roadie for one night, Showco. Yes, in 1979. Okay.
Billy: Showco did all the big shows.
JAM: Yes they did.
Billy: This sound company that I worked for was out of Little Rock and they did big shows but instead of doing the Stones, they would do like, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. So the venues weren't quite as big. It wasn't like arenas, you know.
JAM: Got you.
Billy: So, since they knew the agent for the band and I knew the agents and they called the sub company and I needed to make some money. The first time I roadied for them I was at some show, I don't even know which one it was, and one of their sounds guys said, "hey help me do this." And he wanted me to wrap up all the mic cords and put them in a case. And I did it and he said, "and then I have to load the truck." And he said, "how'd you like to do this tomorrow?"
JAM: So you became a roadie.
Billy: And I became a roadie for a while. I worked for the sound company so I would go out with a couple other guys, lifting sound systems. So we ended up working for a lot of big name bands but, I wasn't the personal roadie for any of those bands. But we did shows like Pure Prairie League and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Lighthouse out of Canada, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Ozark Mountain Daredevils; Lots of people.
JAM: How old were you when you did this?
Billy: Well, I probably started doing that like at 17.
From the NEW Album SPECK: "I Wanna Go Where You Go"
JAM: Oh, wow.
Billy: And did it up through you know, 20-ish or so.
JAM: So you was a roadie and then they got you during this time, this was like a prelude before you started wanting to be in a band and write songs and all this stuff. Is that correct?
Billy: I was actually doing that first.
JAM: Oh, you were doing that first? Okay.
Billy: I was in band in junior high school.
JAM: Oh my goodness. You started early.
Billy: Yeah. I played drums in the first couple bands I was in. We did songs like Hanky Panky and House of the Rising Sun; all that stuff that everybody did. But then later on I got in a band that did a original music. By the time I was 16, I was already writing some songs and playing original music. But you still had to play...
JAM: The top 40 songs. Yeah.
Billy: ... yeah the other stuff. You couldn't go play a prom and play original music.
JAM: I know.
Billy: They'd run you out of town.
JAM: Now, how'd you meet J.D.?
Billy: J.D. and I known each other since 2005?
J.D.: It was 2006 I was hired to record vocals and that was for Billy's fourth solo record called Beautiful Door.
J.D.: And a couple weeks after we started doing that and working on that record, he asked me to record a version of a Hanks Williams song for a Korean TV show. And we did it and had a sound that we really liked. And so, I don't know if there was ever a real invitation. It was just a hey, let's record this now. Let's record this. And so we just started going down the road doing some cover things and that became The Boxmasters.
JAM: So after that, you just stayed with him every step. Pretty cool.
J.D.: Yeah, exactly. It's our 13th year. Yeah.
JAM: Now, I'm going to ask you a question everybody's started to ask. I'm a big Carl Sagan fan, astronomy, all that kind of stuff. When I saw the name Speck, I saw the album cover and of course the little hearts, you know, the King of Spades and all this kind of stuff. Now of course I went on Google and I looked it up, what a spade's supposed to mean. And I saw the Speck and the song, you know, I watched the show How the Universe Works. I liked the lyrics that, "When a speck gets in your eye, it's going to make you cry. Specks are what we are, we're a little bit of star." Now, of course being an astronomy person, I know how we all came from the stardust, star formation. This is a song that all three of you guys wrote, so tell me how that come about writing this song. Also, to make this song the name of your album. I want to hear the story on that.
Billy: You want to take it J.D. or you want me to?
J.D.: I remember that I started with the kind of intro, hook line chord progression, like a dun-dun-dun, thing and I started with that and then... Billy, did you already have the idea that the record would be called Speck, before the song Speck was written? Is that how it happened?
Billy: Pretty much.
J.D.: You already knew what the record was but you didn't have the song that was the title song yet.
Billy: Yeah, well I mostly just remember the melody for the chorus and singing that and singing the chorus first in terms of lyrics. And I remember that hook you had with the guitar. But yeah, I mean pretty much I knew it was going to be.
J.D.: You're calling the record Speck even though the song Speck wasn't written yet.
Billy: That's correct, yes. We were going to call the record that already and we needed the song called Speck.
JAM: Oh, okay. So you already had this idea of...
Billy: We knew what it was going to be. We knew what the idea of the song was. But it was written after the fact.
J.D.: But we were all on the bus and it was one of the few times that we were actually all together in the same time.
JAM: So where were you guys at when you wrote this? You actually all three together on the bus or at home?
J.D.: We were on tour last summer and I couldn't tell you where we were but just that we all sit in the back lounge of the bus and there's a little travel guitar that somebody brought along, either Billy or Teddy and we just all pick the thing up and throw it around and banged on it here and there. At times we get a song to come out of it. So yes. That was the time that that song jumped out of the guitar. I don't remember what Teddy actually did on it. But he was with us that night. I think he helped us come up with some of the stuff for the outro or something. Either Billy or Teddy and Billy, so it's just a matter of who's around to help figure out what the music's going to be.
JAM: Well, I like the concept because like I said, I'm a Carl Sagan fan. When I see the word Speck, I think of, we're like a dot. Look at the whole universe. Our planet Earth is like one little dot, a little speck. And billions and billions of planets throughout the system. Which brings me to the cover. And obviously, I've heard people and I think I've heard you talk about the cover. I love covers that are very simplistic but yet have a deep meaning. And I see this cover, I see this spade, you know the King of Hearts spade, I see a little speck on the spade and I like stuff like that because it makes you think about things. And I like these concept types. Can you kind of tell me how that came about on the cover? Who designed it? Whoever wants to take that question.
Billy: A friend of ours named Matt Cullen, he has a post production house, he's directed a lot of rock videos. But he's an expert on sort of graphic design and stuff.
Billy: And we said, this album's called Speck. So our first thought was to have like a cell, just a white or a black cover with just like a cell or a drop of blood or something that represented the formation of life or whatever. But he did a bunch of covers so he put together eight or ten covers for us and showed them to us and J.D. and I were both automatically drawn to that one. I mean, we liked a couple of the other ones, but they looked a little bit.
J.D.: They were all pretty great and they all sit with what the record was about. But that one we always came back to, just because; it is, it's a striking looking cover.
JAM: Well, why? I mean, what was so striking?
Billy: It has an iconic look. If you looked at the prism on Dark Side of the Moon-
Billy: Yeah, you don't look at that. And the other ones, while they fit, still didn't necessarily have an iconic look. They looked like certain record covers you'd seen before.
JAM: I got you.
Billy: They weren't as striking. This one was striking.
JAM: It is.
Billy: And so we wanted to go with that and then once we started studying about it, we thought, well it's perfect because the spade, if you read up on meanings of different symbols on cards, the spade is the struggle about the thoughts of life and death. So the spade worked perfectly. And then on the card, if you notice there's a bunch of yellow stains and little specks and dots and stuff, so that represents all the people over the years that have touched. Imagine over the years somebody playing cards. And there's a little DNA from all the people who have ever held that card. And schematically it works perfectly because of that. In terms of a look, it's just iconic looking. It's striking.
JAM: Yeah. I agree. I like album covers that are simplistic yet when you look at it, it has a lot of meaning to it. I love those kind of album concept ideas like that.
J.D.: For me, yeah, there's a lot of meaning in it. But what I always told Billy was, this would look great on a fucking poster. It would look good hanging on the wall. Meaning schmeaning, whatever. It's a good looking picture.
JAM: It'd make a good t-shirt too.
J.D.: Yeah. To me it's a piece of art.
JAM: It is. It is.
J.D.: But it has meaning that goes with the meaning of the record, then, that's even better. To break it down into more simplistic, dumb people kind of speak, it's a good looking picture.
JAM: All right, there's another song I have a question on. There's a song I listen to and it's called, "Watching the Radio." Now this song, I like it, but for some reason, excuse my ignorance, I wasn't quite sure of the meaning. I got lost a little bit because I read the lyrics about, "Afraid to use the telephone it's wired into the crown" and you keep talking about watching the radio again. I guess because it's just me, I didn't quite understand what the song was about. So please help me in my ignorance on that.
Billy: Okay, well, "Watching the Radio" is a song about how little privacy we have these days. Wired into the crown means exactly that. Meaning, the government's listening to you.
JAM: Oh, okay.
Billy: So, when it's wired to the crown, that's just what it means. Watching the radio means, it's supposed to be slightly humorous because you have a radio that you used to listen to but now you're afraid to because you're afraid it's listening to you. So the guy just turns the radio off and he sits there and stares it and he's saying, one of these days maybe I'll be able to turn this thing back on again if they change things.
JAM: Okay, now I get it. Okay. All right.
Billy: So the whole song, there's symbolism in almost every line of the song. One of these days if I run into you I can give you line by line what each thing means. But it's essentially, a radio's not something you watch so there's the irony in the lyrics. You know, a radio is something you listen to.
JAM: Yeah, that's what threw me off. I felt like I was being stupid. I thought to myself, at first I thought, what does he mean watching the radio? I couldn't figure it out right off the bat. Okay, so now I get it.
Billy: You're just afraid to turn your cell phone on, afraid it will hear you. It's really all about how we have a lack of privacy these days.
JAM: Okay. Now, on the song, "Days Gone," correct me if I'm wrong but I thought I heard a bunch of good special effects. Am I correct on that? As far as on the production on "Days Gone" Did I hear some drums dampening or some ukuleles or whatever, I mean?
J.D.: I'm trying to remember.
JAM: I like the song.
Billy: He rearranged a few things, I know that. There's some background vocals that we have in there that were already where they were supposed to be but then he lifted them from certain places and put them in a different place in the song also, as an answer.
Billy: So he did that. The drums were pretty... I think we probably used them and there was a reverb on the ukulele and different stuff like that.
JAM: Yeah, that was a good song. I like that one too. That was a good one.
Billy: That's the song about the homeless. And particularly inspired by a homeless encampment in Westwood out here.
JAM: Wow. Yeah that was a good song.
And then the song, "Let the Bleeding Pray." I like the way the song flows. It just flows, you know what I mean? When I heard it the first time, the lyrics and the music, it just flows right on down. And I like a song like that where it just flows, you know what I mean? You don't get bored for two seconds, it just flows through the very end. And that song was cool.
Billy: Oh good, thank you. Yeah, we're fond of that song. We like that song a lot.
JAM: When I first heard the first song, "I Wanna Go Where You Go", I did not know that that was going to be your first single release. I just automatically liked it the first time. What other songs do you think they would try to release after that, that you think would be good, as far as you guys are concerned, after that song? Do they have any ideas what you might want to put out the second solo song?
Billy: "Let the Bleeding Pray" and "Here She Comes" are two that I would.
JAM: That's true. I agree. Those are good.
Billy: One of my favorite songs on the record, which I think would be good for certain types of radio, is one of the ballads which is called "Anymore."
JAM: Yeah, you know what, on "Anymore", that one I heard a Beatles influence. Am I wrong on that? I liked it. It just had this...
Billy: You're absolutely right. J.D. and I talked about it at a time, that song's got a very bold John Lennon sort of playing to Ono brand into it.
JAM: I like that one. I wrote two notes, I put, heavy Beatle influence. That one caught my attention. It kind of struck a chord in me, wow, this sounds good. The tone of the song caught my attention. But I knew it had some kind of Beatles influence but I couldn't specify where or when. I just liked the way it sounded. So that was good.
Billy: Like a Lennon solo song and we intended that.
JAM: Okay. And I have another question that's kind of like, off the wall because, there's a couple more questions. I've been seeing a few bands, like Reverend Horton Heat. I like the idea that some of the bands and you guys too, are going back to these amps that have the tubes versus you know, like the silver tone amps and stuff. It must be hard getting these tubes for those things. When did you first start using those amps anyway, on your shows?
J.D.: Well, we're pretty traditional as far as the way we want our amps to look. We really want a back light. We don't want a stage that's empty and you know, doesn't have any equipment on it. The things that we really love are a stage full of gear with roadies and flashlights, people up there putting on a rock show. So it was really important to us that we have a look that is classic as well as has the sound that we want to have.
So we stick to VOX AC30s, which are the amps of the British invasion and we have a bunch of them. We just love VOX, we are huge supporters of VOX and endorsers of their stuff. But we only endorse because they let us because we talk about it so much. We talked to another amp company at one point about an endorsement kind of opportunity and all we did was talk about VOX AC30s and how much that's what we wanted. We wanted stuff that looked and sounded like VOX AC30s. And luckily the guy we were talking to worked for the same distribution company that distributed VOX. So we were able to just, he's like, why don't you just go talk to them? And so he made the introduction for us and we were able to get what we wanted. Which was what we wanted all along. And they have the sound. They have the sound of all the music that we love, really. All of the British invasion bands played VOXs for most part and the Beatles were known especially for their VOX amps. And so, we tried to get VOX to make the super Beatle amp, which was a big amps that they made, but they haven't entertained us yet. So, we'll keep sticking with the AC30s and we love them.
Billy: We already use them in the studio anyway.
JAM: Oh really? Okay. Well that's just basically-
J.D.: Every guitar sound on that record you're listening to is through one VOX AC30 amp.
JAM: That's cool. Which brings me to the point, how I love the fact that vinyl over the past five years is making a big comeback. Because you know, I grew up with vinyl and we had the CD period how all CDs were supposed to be so great. But then the CDs didn't capture some of the tones, some of the sounds. And then over the past five years, vinyl sales have gone through the roof. Everybody's going back because people want to hold a record. They want to pull out a poster. They want to look at it, they want to feel it, they want to touch it. A CD, you don't have that effect. And so I like the fact that you know, peoples going back in time, using the older type technology to create more of a fuller sound.I just think it's so cool, you know, that we're doing that.
Billy: I'm actually only going to be on an 8-track.
JAM: You mean with the click where the song gets cut? -Then goes to track three.
Billy: Yeah, we love when it gets to the end of the 8-track and the song cuts off and about two minutes later you hear the rest of. I love that mystery of wondering what that rest of the song sounds like.
JAM: Oh I remember the 8-track tape Queen, the song Bohemian Rhapsody, You would hear a click, then all of a sudden you have like a two second delay. That's hilarious. But you're right.
J.D.: So, the vinyl record sounds so good. I finally got my record player set up so I could hear the test pressing of the vinyl of this record. And it blew my mind because I hadn't heard vinyl record in so many years. Even though I had a player, it had been sitting in storage forever. And I was just blown away and it sounded so good and so now I want everything to sound like that. And it's, CDs and especially MP3s or additional audio files do not sound like a vinyl record. There's nothing like it.
JAM: No, they're too bland. Yeah, they're bland.
J.D.: The way the vinyl... you lose a bunch of stuff. You lose that very high end, you can't have a ton of bass on it otherwise the record skips. So you have this rounding of the edges of the frequency spectrum that fit on a record until the way that it does it make it super pleasing to your ear. And having forgotten how that sounds, you just lose that appreciation of how great it sounds and how great it sounds to have that limitation on the frequency spectrum where it really just fits inside the ear naturally. And I think people, along with holding the record and looking at it, hearing that sound and why it sounds so great is really something special. So I'm glad that people are getting to listen to it and I'm glad that I get to listen to it again and hear our records really sound the best they can. Because that is the best way you can hear your music. So, I love it. I'm all over the vinyl.
JAM: Yeah and people are really... I've had all my friends, everybody I know, are rediscovering vinyl because they realize that listening to a file on their phone or a computer, an MP3 file or whatever, you know, a CD, it doesn't sound the same. And so people want to go back, they want to hear the real sound. And so I agree with you totally on that. I'm just really glad that there's been an increase in vinyl. People starting to really appreciate, you know, hearing the way the song was supposed to really sound, you know? Not just some little bland sound through an android phone or whatever, you know?
J.D.: Yeah, exactly. I'm with you on that. I'm just so glad that we got a proper vinyl record out of this. Especially with the way the cover looks, the way the record sounds, it was a perfect one for us to put on a vinyl. And it fits all on one records. A lot of our records are 20 songs. Or 21 or 22 songs, we'll do double or... I don't even know if it would fit on you know, a double record. We like to put out records that give people value for their money. If they're going to buy our record we want to give them something that's worth having. This record's special because of what it is and you know, having Geoff work on it with us. But, the rest of our records that we do we'd like to give people a lot of songs and so they'll hopefully they'll find one that they like. So.
JAM: Well, like I said-
J.D.: You have a better chance.
JAM: Yeah. Well all I can tell you is that, like I said, I listened to every song last night and I really enjoyed quite a few of the songs and I was impressed. I really like the sound, you know, I heard different influences of some songs of certain groups throughout the past, of course that's always going to happen with any kind of song. But I just really enjoyed the style of the music and the songs and I found it overall a very pleasing album. And so I really enjoyed it.
And you know, I was brought up in tradition of 11 songs or 12 songs in an album anyway, you know, so that's how I always was brought up.
J.D.: Oh yeah. Well, it's how we were too. But at the same time we write so much that we want to get them out there. And the only way to get songs out there really is to put them on a record. So we typically do that before every tour and we get a record out that will have a few songs from the new record in the set and get out there and play it fort people.
JAM: Listen, I have one last question only because I did not understand on your bio sheet there is one little line I did not quite understand, so help me out on my stupidity. The vinyl says the always prolific Bud, J.D. and Teddy have been working on finishing a long awaited project titled, "And There We Drove." It talks about upcoming music for an independent future film called "Spareroom." And my question is, what music did y'all contribute to this "Spareroom?" I'm not really familiar with that. That bio stuff left me kind of confused. What does that mean exactly on that?
Billy: We just did some... there's a little independent film called "Spareroom" and the producers asked me to sing the title. Not the title song, but the theme song for it, which I did. And after that they said they were having some trouble with the person who was scoring it they weren't knowing exactly what they wanted. So we played them a bunch of music that we had as score, that we hadn't used in a movie. But it was some music we'd been working and we took out the lyrics out of it and then we did some new stuff. And they loved it. It was exactly the tone they were looking for. It's kind of spookier, more you know, Roger Waters like.
JAM: Is it vocals on there or just music background?
Billy: Well, we had vocals on some of it. But because it was part of a concept we happened to be working on but we stripped it down to just make it sound more scarer.
Billy: So that movie is partially scored by us and we did the theme song for it.
JAM: So is it already come out? Is that in the future or what? What's the deal on that?
Billy: Well, yeah, it's pretty new. I think they're taking it around the film festival; and trying to get distribution on it.
JAM: Okay, well that's cool. When I read that, I didn't quite understand that you know, that sentence. It kind of through me for a loop. That's why I kind of had to clarify it. You know.
Billy: Right on.
JAM: Well, anyway, listen, I really enjoyed talking to you guys. I mean, I hope I didn't bore you guys. Overall, I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed the songs and I really enjoyed printing out these lyrics of each song. And like I said, I'm glad you explained it to me, that one song about the radio. That was the only one I couldn't figure out. But I'm glad you told me what that meant. But, it really, overall I just, I've never seen you guys play live. So when you get here in Shawnee in July, I'm going to have to come out and check you guys play and you know take some photographs with you guys.
J.D.: All right.
Billy: Yeah, please. Please do that.
J.D.: Will do, man.
JAM: Will do, man.
J.D.: Yeah, just stay in touch with me, Vernon, and we'll get you set up buddy.
JAM: Okay, I appreciate it. When I get this story written, I'll send you a copy.
J.D.: Excellent, thanks, man.
JAM: Okay, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
J.D.: Appreciate it.
JAM: Thank you.
Billy: Thanks a lot.
"She Looks Like Betty Page" by Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters