Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (formally titled just The Boxmasters) have been together for 12 years and have recently released a new album, titled ‘Speck,‘ on Keentone Records, for which they are touring in support.
Billy Bob Thornton has been playing in bands since he was a young teenager, well before Hollywood stardom, and even released four studio albums in the early 2000’s before forming The Boxmasters with J.D. Andrew. Thornton had the idea to form a band that would take British Invasion pop songs and redo them with a hillbilly twist, and, thus, The Boxmasters was born. The band has since released nine studio albums, which chronicled their change in sound over time from over the top hillbilly to a more natural sound. The band’s new album was produced by the English sound engineer Geoff Emerick, renowned for his work on The Beatles’ albums from Revolver in 1966 through Abbey Road in 1969. Both lived in Los Angeles and “we run in the same music circles, and we had mutual friends. So we met him socially,” Thornton notes. “We decided pretty early on that it was going to be called Speck, and it was gonna be, you know, kind of a thematic album. Not what you’d call a full-blown concept album, but, you know, along the lines of when The Beatles did ‘Sgt. Pepper’ — just a collection of songs, but they fit together in a way that made sense.” Unfortunately, this was the last album Emerick ever would produce, as he passed on soon after. But, with ‘Speck,’ he left a great parting note to the world of music.
Andrew, who normally does all the sound mixing, noted that “Geoff really did an amazing job on the mixing of this album and did it in a way that you recognize sounds you have known all of your life, but at that same time are in a new way. And I really loved being able to sit back and enjoy the mixes of the album instead of sweating every tiny detail of every song.”
The eleven songs on the album all are original material. Musically, ‘Speck’ references all The Boxmasters’ influences, including The Beatles, The Byrds and Big Star, but there are other musical elements as well—ukulele, cardboard boxes and the Beatles’ famous ‘tea towels on the drums trick’ emerge on songs throughout the album.
Lyrically, it covers everything from personal relationships to politics and social issues, with the central theme of how small we are as humans in the universe. Thornton states “The reason it’s called Speck, is how we’re all just little specks of stardust out here in this giant universe and it’s like the struggle — man versus nature and try to figure out our place in the universe and all that. So the songs go everywhere, from problems in your own backyard to social issues to political stuff to just being scared little humans, you know? And wondering who we are.”
All seats are reserved and priced at $35 or $25.
Tickets can be purchased in person at the Kent Stage box office or online, below: