Backstage at the Fox Theater with BoomBox
Last weekend, the electrofunk duo BoomBox stopped by the Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO to dish out their unique brand of dance worthy club rock to a packed house of Saturday night revelers. Before the show, Grateful Web's Sam Holloway had an opportunity to go backstage and catch up with Zion and Russ about life on the road, the band's next album, and the evolution of BoomBox.
Grateful Web: Last time we talked was in late July when you came through town. Have you been back home at all, or have you been on the road this whole time?
Zion Godchaux: We've been home more lately than we've been in a long time, which isn't a lot.
Russell Randolph: It isn't a lot, I mean, we're still doing three, four shows every week, but we're home Sunday night through Wednesday afternoon, or Tuesday afternoon depending on the week.
ZG: We stay busy.
GW: So do you fly back home after tonight, or do you have a few more stops along the way?
RR: These are fly dates.
ZG: Fly in, fly back and forget about it (laughs). Nah, not really.
GW: When you guys are playing out on the road, are you able to get any sense of what the cities you stop in are like?
ZG: Most places we go to, we've been to more than one time. But even with towns we go to only one time, we can get a general consensus on the default consciousness level of the town.
RR: We kinda have our own way of raiding towns, and seeing their "default consciousness," or their lowest common denominator or whatever. But yeah, most of the time, if we've been to a place more than once I feel like we have a pretty good grasp on it, I think.
GW: Have you been through Boulder a bunch now, or was last time the first?
ZG: We've been here a few times now.
RR: I think this is our fifth of sixth time, something like that.
GW: What do you think of our fair city?
RR: You know what? The jury was out until the last show. Not that we don't dig the town, but usually it takes a few shows to really connect with the town. You know playing shows, it may take us a few times before we are really able to dig out a strong foothold in an area, and last time I felt like we really connected, so its definitely in our good list now.
ZG: Regardless though, we dig the town!
RR: Yeah, regardless of what we do for a living, we love hanging out here.
ZG: It's a really cool place!
GW: Does the altitude bother you?
ZG: It throws me way off. It kinda makes it a bit hard to… its like you're trying to reel you mind in all the time. Kind of like you're about to float off or something. Its very subtle, but after a while you're like 'damn, I'm messed up from this altitude!
GW: Being back home a lot, have you guys had much opportunity to record any tracks for the next album?
RR: Its still in the works. We're not necessarily going to record it like a regular studio album per say. We're developing the songs…
ZG: Building all the pieces, all the components.
RR: …and then just go through the tracks, and set up in front of a crowd at home and record them, sometime in late November, early December. Those will probably be the final tracking days, then well mix for a week or so, master it and be done with it. But we're not really home recording tracks, then going out and playing and coming back to work on them in the studio again. So were developing the tracks when we go back home, but were not recording them in the traditional sense.
ZG: But we're always doing something, like just before we showed up for sound check, we were sampling live drums and bass lines, and constantly working on building our pallet, that kind of thing.
GW: The idea as I understand it is that your intending to, once you've got everything worked out, actually record the thing in a live setting to try to capture the vibe of a live show on a disc.
GW: Is that something you've always done, or plan to keep doing, or is it more of an experiment in progress?
RR: Its kind of the way we plan on making records. We're kind of changing the way we approach record-making in general.
ZG: And it's also a bit of where we're at now. We feel like that's what we need to release, something with a real live feel to it. I mean, we'll probably make studio tracks too, just straight to the dance floor type stuff, but live is definitely where we're coming from.
RR: We need to have something that really represents who we are as a live band. I mean, "Visions" was cool, but it was recorded in the studio, and we hadn't even played a live gig when we made that record. Now we've got years of touring under our belt. Like Z was saying, we'll always probably make dance tracks in the studio, that kind of straight to the dance floor stuff, but we're developing a machine to be able to put out records consistently. We're actually developing the process, developing our sound so that when we're live, we're going through the proper channels, mic pre's, the right EQ's, so that everything sounds like it should on stage…
ZG: And that IS the studio.
RR: …and that is the studio, yes. So we're actually using that stage time as studio time every night. Then when we're back home, we're trying to perfect our own individual inputs and channels to be as good as they can so that when lighting does strike, wherever that might be, Boulder, or back east, we've got that consistent recording thing going. And I think that'll be what we do for the rest of our career, probably.
ZG: And we'll always be recording tracks.
RR: Plus, the live machine is our bread and butter really, that's how we pay our bills is by touring. And people want to be able to take that with them. We get hit up for live shows all the time, but we also want to release something quality, which is why we're developing this process.
GW: Do you guys have any new toys that you're working into your act this time around?
ZG: I've got some synth stuff that I'm using now, and some new drum machines.
RR: I think we both have new toys, actually.
ZG: I mean, we could both go the full DJ, electronic route now if we wanted, throw that stuff down. So it's nice to have those tools as well.
GW: You mentioned that during the sound check you playing around with sampling live drums. Is actually having a drum kit up on stage something you would like incorporate at some point down the road?
RR: Well, yes and no. I'm working a drum set into my role now, but it may not look like a traditional drum set, its gonna be more like an electronic controller with four pieces. I'm not saying that at some point in time if we have the resources to carry a full kit that I wouldn't like to, because I'd love to have a full kit up there with looping capabilities.
ZG: Yeah, me too.
RR: But more realistically, day in and day out touring, at this phase of the game there will be some sort of electronic drums and percussion, and I think people will see a lot of that with the new album. That's the sound I'm really pushing for, because we're both drummers originally, and we both think real time, percussion-like in the moment. To be able to really add that dynamic to our show will be really cool, and it will help people to further understand our bigger vision, and our bigger picture that we're trying to paint.
ZG: I mean, ultimately I think we'll get around to where we've got a kit or two up there with looping devices hooked up to them, and we'll be able to do what we both do best, play drums. It's like having to come full circle, and we've got a lot to take care of before we can get back to the easy shit.
GW: Back to life on the road. It sounds like you've had more time to relax lately, but when you're out and touring, do you have much opportunity to reflect on where you've been?
RR: It's all kind of a whirlwind, really. This fall's gonna be the first time that we've really taken any time off, and we're taking off most of December.
ZG: See, we live in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, well I live in Florence right across the river, and it is slow.
RR: Way slow.
ZG: Nothing's really going on there, so we'll come off a tour, some two week long brain bender, at about 160 miles per hour. I'll come back into Florence, and all of a sudden I'll be chillin' at my house, and it's like hitting the brakes. You almost tumble a few times those first few days. And no one knows what we do, no one cares. We're just regular people.
RR: It's a great place to kind of slip in and out of.
ZG: I feel like we've got Bat suits or something.
GW: Like a secret identity?
ZG: Yeah, well no one knows what we're up to this weekend back home, and there's no way you could convey what happened.
GW: Do you find that you attract a certain crowd, or a certain age group to your shows? And do you think the show tonight will be any different now that the college students are back in town, unlike when you were here this summer and much of the college crowd had gone home?
ZG: I feel like we get a wide range of people, and the one prerequisite in all of those people is the need to have that funky itch scratched, whether they be business men, or hippies, or ravers, or club kids, just all different types of people. The ones that have to have that itch scratched, those are the people who are at our shows.
RR: The school thing does play into that, but it's weird because, well like last night in Denver it was a whole new group of kids. We've played down there a few times, and you start to recognize certain heads and their crew of people, but last night they were all new people. And shows are fun because we're starting to see a new wave of people coming to shows.
ZG: But they're all just new people who want to get down.
RR: Yeah, they're coming to get down, but they're not necessarily all college people. Sometimes if it's a college town we'll get older people, but if we have an all ages shows, we get a lot of younger kids as well, and its cool, but it's hard to put your finger on.
ZG: We definitely don't have a certain class of people who come to our shows, which I'm really proud of.
RR: Like a certain income bracket or something (laughs).
ZG: And that's what we've been working towards, a type of music that appeals to people across the board.
GW: Does BoomBox have anything else exciting in the mix these days?
RR: The album is a big one, because it's gonna be a much bigger step for us. With "Visions" we were just slinging it out of the trunk of our car. And we're still just basically doing that one independently. If it is in a store, it's because one of us, or our manager called somebody. This album is gonna be a whole different jump, we're partnering with another record label, and we've got bigger distribution, so it's a different ballgame. And we really have to step up our game, and its taken a lot of time and resources, but it's good.
ZG: Lately live we've figured something else out. It's kind of hard to explain, but we're in a new place live, and it's a whole new chapter. Like, we've been playing the same song for however long, and we're opening new chapters on them now, and it's like a deeper understanding of them.
RR: It's cool. The band took another step forward and I thought it would just be the album step, but we took another step forward live before we did the album stuff.
ZG: Every night we play we're learning a little more, an in the past month we've really figured a few things out.
GW: Well it'll be exciting to see! Thanks again for taking the time to catch up with us.
RR: Thank you, man!
ZG: Hell yeah! Our pleasure.