LOOT & RIOT MAGAZINE
Ink Tone Swep
I’m looking at your tour schedule and it’s insane, which is dope. How cool is it to be this busy all spring and summer long? MATT (M): It’s a welcome change of pace! We keep waiting to feel exhausted by all this touring, but we’ve been banking on being this busy for so long that it really just feels great right now, especially since this summer is gonna be a straight up Euro trip adventure. We have no idea what to expect abroad and we’re just feeling very optimistic about how the crowds will receive us.
How did your band tag The Shadowboxers come to be? Is there a specific meaning to the name? Is it in some way symbolic of something? SCOTT (S): When we were starting out, we realized that we all wanted to work. We practiced a lot, we listened a lot, we studied a lot… all before we left our dorm room. So we wanted to call ourselves something that reflected that in a classic and soulful way. Shadowboxing is the art of preparing for a fight, literally boxing your shadow. We love the idea of simultaneous attack and defense, competing with ourselves to constantly be better at our craft. That’s what the name represents, and through the years, as we’ve logged our 10,000 hours writing and playing live, the significance of the name rings even more true.
The three of you initially began writing and recording together in college. How did that early musical chemistry translate into all of the success you are enjoying now? Bright future ahead for this group. I see and hear longevity. ADAM (A): First of all, thank you. Longevity is actually something we talk about a lot because there can be so much pressure and temptation in this industry to chase hype. We try to always check that and really make sure we stay focused and true to the idea, not the way the idea is dressed up. And that is something that has been true for us from day one. Aside from the initial sonic chemistry that we all had when we started singing and playing together, our respect for the craft and our commitment to staying honest with it has allowed us to grow and evolve with our identity in tact.
Let’s visit the Apollo EP. This is an official six song introduction to the crew. What statement does this project make, from production and songwriting to musicianship and vocals? (A) You know the best part about the reception of Apollo has been that almost everyone we talk to has a different favorite song. And that’s exactly what we wanted Apollo to be. We wanted it to be a collection of pop songs that says something a little different than what you’re used to hearing, that presents ideas, conceptually and sonically, in a different way, and that from top to bottom is a fucking canon shot all the way through.
You were discovered by Justin Timberlake. Where did JT bump into you guys, give us the rundown. (S) Ok here’s the rundown, bullet point-style – This is the last four years of our lives by the way. We put out a video on YouTube of us doing JT’s “Pusher Love Girl”. JT saw it somehow and tweeted about it. JT sent us a DM on Twitter wanting to know more about us; Takes us to dinner when he comes through Atlanta on his tour a week later, tells us he wants to mentor us. We write like 100 songs and bombard his inbox with them while he’s still on tour. He gives us feedback. We pick our favorites. We get in the studio with him and record Apollo. We open for him on his worldwide tour.
Tell us about the Man Of The Woods Tour, how has that experience been? You guys just played Madison Square Garden, right? (M) We did? Sorry, I’m from New York and I’m pretty sure I blacked out from intense emotions that night. The experience has been truly educational; we learned a ton about how to perform at that scale from watching Justin’s show every night and by snagging pointers from just about everyone on his team. Thirty minutes in front of that many people is a kick to the face of endorphins unlike anything else, so learning how to control the stage and all that energy took time and plenty of shows where we were still learning the ropes. I think we know a lot more about ourselves as performers now and I’m excited to see how we build upon what we gained.
I am very familiar with Atlanta’s indie scene – from Ponce and Peachtree to the Piedmont and Buckhead areas, there’s a lot of dive bars and night spots that book live music. Where did you play at in the A and how did your time there help shape your sound? (M) Man oh man, we made the rounds over the years. We hit The Earl, Space 2, The 5 Spot, but we definitely played Eddie’s Attic and Smith’s Olde Bar the most. Our first real gigs were there and here are the main take-aways from them: After carrying bass cabinets up the stairs behind Smith’s, load-in never felt like much of a chore ever again. That shit is straight out of Indiana Jones, spike pits, skeleton remains of roadies, and dart traps to boot. We learned how to rock out and deal with drunk people and shitty promoters here. At Eddie’s, we learned that even in this era, you can find a group of people who just want to shut up and listen to a songwriter tell his or her stories. We learned how to invoke emotion and use silence as a friend here.
If we’re talking goals, and looking at legacy, what do you want career-wise for The Shadowboxers? I mean, The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, and Journey still kill their live shows. (S) I want The Shadowboxers to make songs that people care about 20, 30, 50 years from now. I want us to make songs that matter.