Modbilly Comes to Franklin

F or a self-proclaimed “accidental” actor, Billy Bob Thornton is enjoying the fruits of small and large screen success. As a kid, he wanted to be a musician. In his younger days, Thornton spent time working as a roadie and assisted acts like the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Johnny Paycheck. The jobs let him […]

Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters at J.D. Legends


Billy Bob “Bud” Thornton, Teddy Andreadis, and J.D. Andrew (l-r). Photo: Rob Fenn.

 

By Allyson B. Crawford

For a self-proclaimed “accidental” actor, Billy Bob Thornton is enjoying the fruits of small and large screen success. As a kid, he wanted to be a musician. In his younger days, Thornton spent time working as a roadie and assisted acts like the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Johnny Paycheck. The jobs let him be around the music world and observe live stagecraft. Much has been made of his roadie days, perhaps because it is hard to picture a wealthy Oscar winner doing the hard manual labor of rigging stage equipment for live shows. These days, Thornton, who is sometimes credited as W.R. “Bud” Thornton with his band The Boxmasters, splits his time between starring in Goliath, an Amazon TV series and touring.

“I grew up in music, so I came to acting later,” Thornton tells The Dayton City Paper. “Music absolutely influenced me as an actor. Acting and editing movies, directing movies… they are all a rhythmic thing. They are all about dynamics. That way, you have an advantage if you are musically inclined. I love both of them, I really do. I don’t love one more than the other. I appreciate everything I have every day of my life.”

Thornton is happiest when creating music with The Boxmasters. He formed the band in 2007 with guitarist J.D. Andrew. Thornton sings and plays drums in the band. Andrew does the guitar and bass parts and keyboardist Teddy Andreadis rounds out the band. If you recognize his name, that is because he is known for playing with heavyweights like Alice Cooper and members of Guns n’ Roses.

What started as a tongue-in-cheek mix of rock and hillbilly music has morphed into a straight rock n’ roll affair, now a decade old and still going strong.

“We were born out of this idea we had with combining the British invasion with Hillbilly music. So those first couple of records were very experimental,” explains Thornton. “They had a sense of humor to them that most people didn’t get. Some people got it and said ‘This is brilliant’ but most people said ‘These guys can’t play anything!’ I would sing it like David Allen Coe so it was very stylized. Concepts were lost for people in the last two decades. Now a lot of people compare [us] to sounds like The Byrds and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. We’ll never be a tenth [as good as] those guys–we bow before them!–but in terms of our influences, we sound like we’re in that world.”

The Boxmasters will perform at J.D. Legends in Franklin on Saturday, August 11. The band is used to playing smaller cities and older or more unique venues.

“Our tours are very intense,” explains J. D. Andrew. “We typically play every single night of the week. We have played in Ohio several times. It’s usually not Columbus or Toledo or Cleveland. Usually it’s places that aren’t so heard of like Franklin and towns that have a little theatre that they’ve rebuilt or kept going for a long time. Most places are old theaters. Someone’s pet project they’ve kept alive.”

While the Boxmasters don’t sound like your average rock band in 2018, they don’t really look the part either. Known for typically dressing in suits, a Boxmasters show might come off as a formal affair, but it’s really just another nod to the band’s sixties influences.

“We don’t always wear suits,” Thornton interjects. “It depends on the venue. If it’s a proper theatre, that’s usually where we wear the suits. There are times we’ll wear mod clothing. We get a lot of clothes out of England. Like The Small Faces or Traffic. We do have a couple of the guys in the band who are… larger than the average bear. They have more trouble–”

At this point, Andrew interjects excitedly and exclaims, “We’re not 20! When you live on a diet of chicken fingers and fries, it’s hard to stay in touring shape!”

Not missing a beat, Thornton—an exceptionally thin and health-conscious eater—continues explaining the band’s clothing choices and marketing strategy.

“This tour we decided, since it’s summer, [to wear] all cotton Dickies coveralls and we’ve got our name patch like a mechanic would—and then on the other side we have an oval patch with our astrological sign as a little point of interest in our uniform. We’ve found a way to maintain a look and not wear the wool Beatles suits.”

It makes sense for someone like Thornton to worry about details like name patches on coveralls. Creating the look of a Boxmaster’s show is the same as creating set design for a movie project. Plus, he originally hand-drew the Boxmaster’s throwback logo many years ago. In a word, The Boxmasters are trying to set a mood.

In a world where seemingly no one buys full albums anymore, the Boxmasters continue to record and release new material. During 2016 alone, the Boxmasters released two albums. Even on the road, the band writes and stays creative.

“We write songs constantly,” explains Thornton. “We love to be in the studio. That’s where we feel the most comfortable. Including my four solo records, we have eight albums out as the Boxmasters. We still sequence albums. We still sell CDs and vinyl. We have a pretty terrific cult following. Our fans do love the old school approach. We record almost exclusively at A&M studios. It’s called Henson now, but it’s the old A&M studios. It’s an amazing place. I’ve been recording there since 1998.”

Like Thornton, Andrew has another job in addition to the Boxmasters. A sound engineer by trade, he earned a Grammy for his efforts on Kanye West’s debut album The College Dropout. These days he works on projects for foreign language TV and film mixing. It’s work he’s able to do from home while watching his three boys. Of course, his main job is mixing all the Boxmasters songs.

Billy Bob Thornton and the Boxmasters will appear at J.D. Legends, 65 Millard Dr., Franklin on August 11. For tickets and more information, call 937.746.4950, or visit jdlegends.com. For more details on the band, visit theboxmasters.com.

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About Allyson B. Crawford

View all posts by Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog bringbackglam.com. You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at AllysonCrawford@DaytonCityPaper.com

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