The band performing at Slims in San Francisco, California in September 2007
|Origin||Bellflower, California, United States|
|Genres||Sixties Influenced Rock 'n' Roll|
Billy Bob Thornton
|Past members||Micheal Wayne Butler |
Before he formed The Boxmasters, frontman Thornton had played in bands since middle school, worked as a roadie, recorded in 1974 in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and in the 2000's released four solo albums. After listening to "Yesterday's Gone" by Chad & Jeremy and thinking about covering it in a hillbilly music style, he had the idea of making Americanized version of British Invasion pop songs. From mid-2008 to late 2008, the group embarked on a tour across the United States, ending in Los Angeles. It also played for the March 2009 South by Southwest conference. After opening several tours for Willie Nelson in 2009 & 2010, The Boxmasters ceased touring for five years, which they used to write multiple albums and emerged with a more natural sound, as opposed to their early hillbilly leanings.
Billy Bob Thornton—credited on the band's material as W. R. "Bud" Thornton—has said that "[he] never intended to become a movie star, it happened accidentally. [...] Music is what I love." As a teenager he was in several bands, some of which achieved regional fame and opened for larger groups such as Black Oak Arkansas at local festivals. After moving to Houston in the late 1970's, the band "Nothin' Doin'" was approached with the idea of becoming a ZZ Top tribute band. Thornton played drums in "Tres Hombres" for several years before his eventual move to Los Angeles.
Thornton brought in recording engineer J.D. Andrew to help with his 2007 album Beautiful Door. After jamming together, they started to record some of their material. Andrew had known Mike Butler "for six or seven years" and called on him to play guitar for them. According to Andrew, after the trio played together, they said "Shoot, this sounds like a band." The three came up with the name "Boxmasters" after a piece of Southern slang, which they later described by saying "remember the bad boy in high school who got all the girls and left a trail of broken hearts ... and more?" Thornton had also briefly played in country star Porter Wagoner's similarly titled band 'The Wagonmasters', which he later said had brought chills down his spine.
The band started in Bellflower, California in 2007. Their eponymous first album The Boxmasters was released on June 10, 2008 by Vanguard Records. The Washington Post praised the album, and the paper remarked that listeners will get their money's worth if they enjoy the music even half as much as the band did during the recordings.
The group resumed touring in July 2008, adding musicians Bradley Davis on mandolin, guitar, and vocals, Teddy Andreadis on harmonica and organ, and Mike Bruce on drums. Their tour across the United States ended on September 7, 2008 when they played at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. The band released their second album, Christmas Cheer, on November 11, 2008, also through Vanguard Records. USA Today music critic Brian Mansfield named it one of his favorite holiday albums. The Boxmasters went on a post-album 12-city tour with Willie Nelson, playing from November 22 in Enid, Oklahoma to December 6 in Champaign, Illinois. They then embarked on a six-city tour of Texas in March 2009, which included a March 18 appearance at the South by Southwest music conference.
The band released Modbilly on Vanguard on April 21, 2009. Houston Press praised the album, saying that it "confirms that Billy Bob Thornton's writing talents aren't confined to his Oscar-winning screenplays." Prefix gave a mostly positive review, calling it "for real" and stating that "Thornton’s distinct voice continues to be a nice fit with the material".
Return to album releases and touringEdit
In 2015 The Boxmasters returned with the album Somewhere Down The Road released by 101 Ranch Records. Rolling Stone said "This sprawling double album, which amazingly doesn't feel Use Your Illusion bloated, finds him and the ace 'Masters — who play the Grand Ole Opry on August 18th — mixing country noir with bright jangle pop. One disc is all Americana gothic, while the other is Nuggets by way of Liverpool. "Always Lie," from the twangy half of the project, is Thornton devilishly sharing his trick for dealing with the press and ranks with some of country's most honest songwriting. (Or does it?)" "Like the songs of John Hiatt or John Prine, the selections on Somewhere Down the Road tell stories bound to resonate with the listener. Delivering their tunes with gusto and grit, The Boxmasters aren’t afraid to dig deep, and go down the road less traveled in order to makes sure the listener gets something worth listening to. That’s what makes this album such a treasure." wrote Philly Cheeze's Rock & Blues Reviews.
Also in 2015 The Boxmasters released Providence on their website as a download only album.
In 2016 The Boxmasters also released two albums, Boys and Girls...& The World and Tea Surfing, on NDR Records.
In 2018 The Boxmasters released "In Stereo!" on NDR records. "Bud sings his heart out on “Guess That’s Gonna Have to Do,” and the rocking “Clear Enough.” His songs, co-written with JD Andrew, are always filled with thought-provoking lyrics and memorable melodies and always, yes always, a strong danceability factor." wrote Michael "Buffalo" Smith in Kudzoo Magazine.