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.
JG: You don't know what I mean.
*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: 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.
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.
Okay. I'm still stuck on this whole Boxmasters thing.