Some people made sourdough bread during lockdown. Others did Zoom happy hours.
Billy Bob Thornton and The Boxmasters did some music. Three albums, to be exact, the second of which, “Help… I’m Alive”, was released last month.
“It’s a little faster and with a little more universal subject matter,” Thornton said in a phone interview. “It’s much less dark and anxiety-provoking than the first one we did in shutdown.”
That first, “Nothing Personal,” has yet to be released, and their third, holiday-appropriate “Christmas in California,” was released in November. Thornton must have been invited to the latter by Boxmasters guitarist and bassist JD Andrew, but he ultimately agreed it was an interesting idea. Of the 10 songs, eight are original.
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“You might listen to them and not know they’re Christmas songs,” Thornton said. “They are dark and humorous. It was as cathartic and fun to write these songs for a Christmas album as it was for any other record. Some sound like Boxmasters songs.
Thornton and The Boxmasters will perform at Boot Barn Hall on Friday.
You’d be forgiven for scratching your head at the thought of Thornton fronting a band, because you probably know him as an actor. There was the Oscar he won for writing the 1997 film ‘Sling Blade’, in which he played the role of a mentally handicapped man, and the multitude of films that followed, including ‘Primary Colors”, “Armageddon”, “A Simple Plan”, “Monster’s Ball” and “Bad Santa”. And more recently, his award-winning TV roles in FX’s “Fargo” and Amazon’s “Goliath.”
He accidentally fell into acting, but it was music that was always his love. After playing in bands as a child, he worked for a few years as a roadie for bands such as The Statler Brothers, Johnny Paycheck and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
“It humbled me; for sure,” he said. “It was one of those experiences where when you have your own roadies you treat them well. We had it harder than them now. We didn’t get on the bus. We were working all the time, driving the trucks . I loved every minute.”
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Thornton started making solo albums in 2001 before meeting Andrew in 2007, when he was hired as a sound engineer for Thornton’s 2007 album, ‘Beautiful Door’. He asked Andrew to play guitar for a song, and they’ve been making music ever since.
And what does this music sound like? Each album has a “different sonic timbre,” Thornton said, but they always start from the same foundation: a crazy, passionate love for ’60s music, especially the Beatles, Beach Boys and Byrds. To this day, Thornton emphasizes the importance of bands.
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“Everyone was inspired by the Beatles,” he said. “When you look at the all-time greats, it’s the people who started something that ultimately got on people’s nerves. They had a perfect blend together. Chemistry has a lot to do with things. That’s what this group (Boxmasters) has. If you replaced any of these Beatles, they wouldn’t sound the same. Beach Boys, same thing. The Byrds sat down and said. ‘listen to our voices, they blend perfectly.’”
Contact the writer: 719-636-0270
Contact the writer: 719-636-0270