Billy Bob Thornton Interview:
The Boxmasters, New Album & More
This American roots rock quartet is made up of a cast of musical all-stars and a talented singer and drummer who also happens to be an A-list movie star. The Boxmasters are made up of Billy Bob Thornton; J.D. Andrew, Grammy award-winning recording engineer who’s credits include The Rolling Stones and Kanye West; Teddy Andreadis, who has shared the stage with B.B. King and Guns N’ Roses; and Brad Davis, Grammy award-winning producer who has worked with David Lee Roth and Merle Haggard.
And now The Boxmasters are back with a brand new album, just released, called “Somewhere Down The Road.” They had the release party and concert in my hometown of Franklin, Tennessee at the Historical Franklin Theatre, and they are currently on a tour through the South, with their first stops in Texas and Tennessee. Learn more about The Boxmasters where you can get online-only products like an autographed version of the new album (though that is in very limited quantities and may not be available at the time of this article’s publication).
I spoke with Billy Bob Thornton and J.D. Andrew:
[To J.D.] You guys have an all-star band of award-winning, talented musicians; how did you guys get together and decide to start this band?
J.D. Andrew: We just make time for it. We are all pals that really love hanging out with each other, and we love working together as well. Really, once we start getting a plan for something, we are going to do it. We just make time for it, to do it and get at it. This is what we all love to do.
I see a lot of The Boxmasters current tour dates are in the South. Is there something comfortable about playing here [in Josh’s home region — Nashville area]?
J.D. Andrew: We just initially decided that because the people that we know and the people who enjoy what we do are in the South. I used to live in Tennessee. Brad used to live in Tennessee. Billy is from Arkansas. So the places we have done well and the places where people come and see us are places like Alabama and Tennessee and Texas. So we make sure we hit those. But, honestly, some of the best places that we go over well are here in the South. We also have dates in Chicago and places up north.
[To Billy] Congrats on the new album release. What made you decide to perform in Franklin, Tennessee for your official release party?
Billy Bob Thornton: We had done three shows in Texas already before we got to Franklin, but we thought, you know, the label is out of here, and so it just made sense, and plus this area [Nashville] and town is one of the last towns that is just a pure music town, and Franklin also is such a neat little town. It has got that village feeling about it, and it has some cool places to go and it just all made sense.
I noticed on your first album you played drums. Do you play drums on all your albums?
Billy Bob Thornton: Yes. There are four, actually, Boxmasters band members — Terry Andreadis, J.D. Andrew, me, and Brad Davis — and when we play live we have a bass player and a drummer because I have to be out front. On the records I do the lead and background vocals and drums. JD plays electric, rhythm, and bass, so we make the records as the four of us. I grew up as a drummer, so, yeah, I play drums on all of the records.
A fun fact about your band is that The Boxmasters are great bowlers and you once beat Def Leppard?
Billy Bob Thornton: Yes, we took Def Leppard up in Grand Rapids, Michigan several years ago. They were off on the same night in Grand Rapids as us, so we ran into Joe down in the lobby, the singer, and he said, “What are you guys up to tonight?” and I said, “We are going bowling,” and he said, “We’d love to go bowling.” So they went down there to the bowling alley with us, and we had the greatest time. A lot of fans in the bowling alley, so we just lined them up and took pictures with them in the bowling alley. It was a real fun night.
Did you feel The Boxmasters had an advantage because the drummer for Def Leppards only has one arm?
Billy Bob Thornton: You know, he was good [laughs] — Rick Allen — he was a terrific bowler actually. I had to help him tie his shoes [laughs], but, boy, once he got out there he was as good as anybody, and he is a really nice guy too.
Do you do any southern gospel standards when you perform?
Billy Bob Thornton: Not really. We haven’t. We do them sometimes. Brad and I know most of the gospel, so we do it sometimes in the studio for ourselves. We will just start playing a gospel song, and we have done that. Years ago, we used to do “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” which, I guess, is not really a southern gospel song but is kind of in that area. I really enjoy performing and listening to gospel. I just bought my mom the Elvis gospel collection.