An almost-complete transcript of Billy Bob Thornton (and The Boxmasters) on CBC's Q

Okay. I'm still stuck on this whole Boxmasters thing.

I'm listening back to the uncut interview from the beginning. And apparently transcribing it. Enjoy.

"Mod Billy" is the name of the first record by my next guest, The Boxmasters. If the name "Boxmasters" sounds familiar, there might be a couple reasons why. First, "Mod Billy" is the Los Angelas trio's third album in the last year alone (yes this is a band with ambition). Second, the Boxmaster's principle songwriter, singer and drummer is a man by the name of Billy Bob Thornton, whose day job (some of the time) is oscar-winning screenwriter, actor and director. While Billy Bob Thornton's name is most often linked to his cinematic endevours, The Boxmasters is anything but a diversion from the silver screen. He's always intended to make music, he just got sidetracked. These days, music is a major priority in his life and something he's obviously embracing. The Boxmasters are currently on tour with country legend Willie Nelson, and I'm pleased to have all the members in studio here, Hello boys!


JG: Three albums in the past year, that seems ambitious!
(Someone else) That's the ones that have been released. We've got about five.
JG: There's more? Billy-Bob. I mean you guys just formed in the past couple of years, right?
BBT: I don't know what you are talking about.
JG: *chuckle* How so?
BBT: I don't know what you mean by that.
JG: Well.. well.. when did the band form?
BBT: I'm not sure what that means.
JG: Oh. Well when did you guys first start playing together?
(Someone else) We started playing about two years ago, and we haven't stopped since we got the ball rolling.
JG: And you've made three records in that time?
(Someone else) We've actually made about five records. And the first one...
(... talking about the tour with Willie Nelson... general normal interview talk)
JG: What do you learn from Willie Nelson, Billy-Bob?
BB: *silence* I've never met him.
JG *awkward chuckle* Are you being ironic or are you being serious?
BB: I don't really know him.
JG: You've never really met him?
BB: I sat down with him once. He's a nice guy.
JG: But you don't really hang out on tour.
BB: uh.
JG: You don't know what I mean.
BB: no.
*more awkward chuckles from people*
JG: Why do I get the impression that you are going to answer "I don't know what you mean" if I ask you...Did Willie choose you guys to go on tour with him?
BB: shit, I don't know.
JG: Right. Uh. Alright. Well this new record, double record. Tell me about your decision to include a whole record of covers.
(...Other band members answer... about being inspired by different types of music etc.)
JG: And that was true for you too, Billy Bob? Growing up, it was sort of a combo of Stones and Monkeys and Buck Owens?
BB: I just liked baseball as a kid.
JG: And you almost became a professional baseball player, right?
BB: I don't know. Maybe.
JG: Um. But you didn't love music when you were a kid?
BB: Um. Well I subscribed to a magazine called Famous Monsters of Filmland. The publisher was a guy named Forest J. Acherman who passed away recently.
(long awkward silence)
JG: Hm. Do you remember what you were listening to as a kid?
BB: They had a contest where you could build your own model. And it could be like a King Kong or anything from something you created yourself to one of the monsters that was actually in the magazine (goes on to talk about model monsters and entering this build your own model monster contest)
JG: And where does the music fit into that?
BB: Uh? Music? No. It was a monster magazine.
JG: Right, but being as you seem to be so passionate about music, I was wondering about your ...
BB: (interrupts) Would you say that to Tom Petty?
JG: Would I say that he's passionate about music?
BB: Yah.
JG: Yah
BB: Really? Would you explain why it's not a hobby?
JG: (repeating... kind of confusedly) Would I explain why it's not a hobby? ... Are you reacting to the fact that I said...
BB: Yah I am. Since you are instructed not to talk about shit like that. Yah I am reacting to that. Yah.
JG: Instructed? I'm not really instructed... you guys are here as a band, and you're preforming but I...
BB: Well your producer was instructed. Somewhere along the way.
JG: Because I mentioned you were an actor and a screenwriter?
BB: Well first of all that wasn't supposed to be mentioned either.
JG: But that's just giving context, right? I mean I'm happy to interview you guys as a band, but for the listeners, we're giving context for who you are. That's part of your trajectory, isn't it?
BB: Not really.
JG: It's not.
BB: No.
JG: You would prefer I only do this interview not mentioning at all - just to clarify - at all that you've ever done any acting, screenwriting, directing ..
BB: That's right.
JG: But you know people are listening across the country and across North America and they might think that's odd that I would not mention anything to do with your past.
BB: Well I think it's odd that you have to smoke inside a white strip outside.
JG: That is also odd. But that's a little different. That's a rule and regulation. I'm just trying to do a show and give people context for who you guys are.
BB: Well there's pleanty of context without all that.
JG: Right. Okay. Well it does occur to me that the producers did say that you didn't want to ... focus on questions around your acting career etc. And I'm cool with that. Because I'm happy to talk to you as musicians. But it does also occur to me that you are a pretty new band and one of the reasons you get attention is because of the career you had.
BB: We're not really new.
JG: You're not? It says...
BB: I made eight albums.
JG: I know *you* have made a lot of albums, but how long have The Boxmasters been around for?
BB: I don't know.
JG: (long silence) couple years? Maybe? So even the greatest bands in the world... part of the great success you've had is because of the career you've had in other ways. What I'm explaining is that I'm not trying to be insulting to your musical...
BB: (interrupts) What I'm explaining is we said to not talk about shit like that and we also said we didn't want to hear anything about how this is my "first love." You wouldn't say THAT to Tom Petty, would ya? "I understand music is your first love" Well my first love was a chick named Lisa Cohen. You know what I mean?
JG: Alright. Well I think the only reason we would do that is as a point of entry. So do you want to continue this if we talk about music?
BB: Tha'd be great.
JG: Ok. Well if we can call a truce, then I can ask you questions about music. Because when I was asking, you didn't seem to want to answer. But I'm cool to talk about that. So can you talk about your musical influences? Because there is an interesting fusion on this record.
BB: Yah it's a mixture of the British Invasion with hillbilly music. Something that I know more about than a band that was 20 years old, that you wouldn't say that to. I grew up as pretty much a music historian, so. Yah. Cosmic cowboy music.
JG: Can you think of other bands who have been doing what you guys have been doing here.
BB: Not lately, not in the last 30 years, no.
JG: You're opening for Willie Nelson. I'm assuming that's an older crowd. Do you find different audiences react to you in different ways? Because this is quite the ecclectic double-record. You run the gamet from songs that sound kind of country to songs that sound like rock n roll.
BB: The good news is that Willie's audience is pretty ecclectic.He has everything from bikers to old people to young people. So somewhere in there you find an audience. Or at least we do in Europe and the US. Canadian audiences tend to be kind of reserved.
JG: Yah, we've heard that before.
BB: We tend to play places where people throw things at each other. Here they just sort of sit there. And it doesn't matter what you say to them.
JG: And you're playing theatres, right?
BB: Some are theatres, some are like stadiums or whatever you want to call it. But it's very um, well... mashed potatoes with no gravy, you know what I'm sayin'?
JG: Aw, well we've got gravy up here as well .
BB: Yes you do. You've got it on a lot of things.
JG: You might even consider it a national dish.
BB: Absolutely, I've seen that in a lot of shops.
JG: Alright so you guys are going to play a tune for us. What were you going to play?
BB: Well the boys are going to play an instrumental version of a song called Turn it Over.
JG: And you're not going to play?
BB: Um. I'm the drummer.
JG: And you don't have your drums here.
BB: No. We don't cart those around at 6 in the morning.
JG: Okay. Alright. Well lets hear the instrumental version from the Boxmasters. You guys up for it?

One singly solitary voice: Sure.


So the only thing Jian and Billy Bob could talk about amicably was gravy. Interesting. And now I have a new Facebook status.


Anonymous April 8, 2009 at 2:41 PM  

Interesting. In addition to coming off as a dick, he actually accomplishes the exact opposite of what he hopes.

By not acknowledging that he is (a heck of) an actor, and refusing to talk about it, he doesn't come off as "serious" musician. Instead he comes off as someone who is scared to admit that he had some help in the industry by virtue of his other talent.

I haven't heard his music, but really, his avocation as an actor is a legitimate topic, in fact, he would come off a whole lot more credible if he brought it up first. It is as of a legitimate question as questioning Jon Bon Jovi's musical past when talking about acting.

Having a talent as an actor, doesn't nullify any musical talent, but it certainly is a reasonable starting point in an interview.

KOTN April 8, 2009 at 2:53 PM  

Jian Gomeshi is a telentless hack, a douchebag who constantly interupts his guests, and deserves whatever happens to him.

Jackie S. Quire April 8, 2009 at 2:56 PM  

Normally I would agree, but not in this case my friend :)

That's actually the funny thing about all this. If he'd not made such a stink about it, it would have taken up NONE of the interview. The "offending" material was only in the intro to the story... not the body of the interview. Because BBT made this huge deal over it, it took over half of the interview time.

Wendy April 8, 2009 at 3:46 PM  

Hey Northern Journalist- I caught your blog looking for other reviews of BBT's incredible performance this morning on the CBC, and I'm glad to see people talking about this. I'd like to share this scathing review of the Boxmasters' work:

Kind of says it all- but makes me sorry for all the people stuck with tickets to Willie Nelson in Southern Ontario this week!

WR in London

bhaggart April 8, 2009 at 4:25 PM  

Thanks for the transcript; the interview's almost too painful to listen to.

I was actually at the Willie Nelson/Ray Price show last night in Ottawa and thought BBT's performance was pretty good (though he's a better singer than he is a drummer). He even had a nice, friendly rapport w/ the crowd. Nothing to match Willie and Ray's sets, but they're legends. As opening acts go, the Boxmasters were more than passable.

But, man, that interview. What a jerk.

Jackie S. Quire April 8, 2009 at 4:39 PM  

Wow. Scathing is right. The best part I think is the first line about his RIDICULOUS pseudonym. Hilarious. Goes to show I guess how deep that insane "I'm not BBT. I'm not an actor" obsession goes.

@ bhaggart
I know what you mean. I heard it the first time because it was on the radio at work. I only caught it because I heard the word "shit" and that's pretty rare for CBC.

When I went back and transcribed it, I was shaking as I typed, because it just... blew my mind that someone would act that way on live radio. Not to mention live, NATIONAL radio. I think I got a second-hand adrenaline rush from it haha.

Thanks for stopping by!

Robyn April 8, 2009 at 4:49 PM  

This was actually on air?? The whole thing??? Oh man, reading that totally made my day :)

(I cringed the whole entire way through.... especially through the "I don't know what you mean by that" section that lasted far too long. Man, this Gomeshi guy must have been sweating! Kudos to him for turning it around.)

Meandering Michael April 8, 2009 at 6:58 PM  

I COULD have been thinking "what a talented guy - he can do all that stuff". Now I'm thinking "what an arse." Sadly, from now on, every time I see a movie with BBT in it ('cause I sure won't be seeking out his music), I'll be thinking "what an arse."

Every Photo Tells A Story April 8, 2009 at 8:04 PM  

Well, of course, I agree that Billy Bob behaved like a ten year old. But,(and perhaps I will sound like a ten year old writing this)it was pure entertainment. Not your typical boring interview, was it? My first time listening to Gian Gomeshi, and I think he handled himself like a pro considering the length of the interview, and that it was live. I'm sure this interview will look great on his resume. AND, I had a great laugh. Thank you:)

dogsled_stacie April 8, 2009 at 10:38 PM  

Jian rocks! I love that guy. Thanks for the transcription, I'm too lazy to go find it... lol

Never really liked BBT, still don't. :)

Anonymous April 8, 2009 at 11:09 PM  

Hello there, I'm just writing to let you know that I'm linking your most excellent post to one that I wrote....I wanted to put the YouTube video of the interview on my post, but by the time I finished writing, the video was mysteriously no longer available. I found your transcript and wanted to give a better context to my post, being as the video is not available.

And in a serendipitous way, I'm glad I had to seek out the transcripts, because I found your blog! I look forward to coming back.

Thanks again,

KOTN April 9, 2009 at 8:37 AM  

I have heard Gomeshi interupt Leonard Cohen.

Thornton is a karma-rang.

Why not lay off Gomeshi and save some reporter jobs over there.

Amy April 9, 2009 at 10:01 AM  

O my goodness.I know it'll make little difference in the grand scheme of things, but I have now shuffled BBT into the crazy file with Tom Cruise. And in the same way I do not pay to see Tom Cruise movies or support his crazy in any way, I will not pay to support the jackass that is BBT.

nomad April 21, 2009 at 12:18 AM  

Joaquin Phoenix might be able to orchestrate a PR spoof to advance his career, but Billy Bog just isn't cool enough to pull off something like that

RK Henderson April 21, 2009 at 7:02 PM  

Wow. I was unaware that there were people who hate Jian Gomeshi. Same people that complain about Christmas decorations, I guess.

For the record (and I've nothing against the guy and always listen to interviews with him), I think Leonard Cohen needs to be interrupted sometimes.

Anyway, you have to have a big Jian-hate going to side with Thornton on this one. To my mind, it's kind of like saying Nazi Germany was OK because it finally did something about those uppity Norwegians.

I was a confirmed Jian fan before, but now I see that beneath that softball pop-culture exterior he's also a disciplined journalist, when we need him to be.


Martha May 9, 2009 at 11:55 PM  

Hi, I dont know anything about Jian, but the real jerk in this is BBT. Unless this is some kind of weird performance art, i'm going to do like Amy and boycott too.

ceecee2012 July 4, 2012 at 5:45 PM  

Hi Jackie
Good job with the transcript of the B.B. Thornton CBC interview. I did want to mention that you did not include Jian's introducing the individual band members. I think it is important only because it is something that BBT made a issue of in his book (he apparently did not watch the video of his interview himself!)
After Jian's intro lead-in he says: 'I am pleased to have all the members of the Boxmasters, Billy Bob Thornton, J.D. Andrews, Mike Butler and Danny Baker here in the studio. Hello boys!'

Also the band member who answered most of the early questions was J.D. Andrews, and a little later Mike Butler also answered questions. Danny Baker (aka Unknown Hinton) spoke very little, either because he was uncomfortable or unwilling. Hopefully he was not following Thornton's sulky behaviour.

I must disagree with those who call Jian talentless and rude. I think this interview in particular shows that he is neither of those things.