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The boys in the Box

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Bandmates J.D. Andrew and Mike Butler, on life with - Billy Bob
  • Bandmates J.D. Andrew and Mike Butler, on life with Billy Bob

Let's begin with the coleslaw incident.

"Well, like the bands that we grew up loving, there was always some sort of back story, like how the band met," explains Boxmaster J.D. Andrew. "And Billy, of course, is a great storyteller, so he came up with the idea that the Boxmasters were founded in Bellflower, Calif., and that the way we met was that I was working at a fast-food chicken restaurant and he came in there and we had an argument about whether or not there was supposed to be coleslaw with his chicken meal."

Back in reality, Andrew is a Grammy-winning engineer for Kanye West, the Rolling Stones and Guy Clark, and had been working with Thornton on his Beautiful Door album. When Thornton needed a guitarist to help record a cover of Hank Williams' "Lost Highway" for a Canadian TV show, he asked Andrew how well he could play.

"I told him I hadn't played in a band in 10 or 12 years, but I could get by," says Andrew. "So we cut the song and it had a great sound and a great feel to it."

They soon recruited another engineer/guitarist, Mike Butler, whom Andrew had met during a recording session for the artist Pink.

"Living in L.A. and being a recording engineer and producer, you sort of go where the work is," says Butler, whose credits range from Death Cab for Cutie to Reba McEntire. "But the engineering gig for me has always been the day job, and being able to play music is where our hearts are at.

"[Thornton] knows more about music than just about anybody I've ever met," Butler adds. "I learned more from him, just having conversations about music and through the whole process of making this record and hanging out with him, than I would have in 10 years trying to figure it out on my own."

Andrew concurs: "When we're working with him, he's so not a movie star. He's a brilliant actor and a brilliant songwriter, a great drummer and a great producer. But mainly, he's our friend and he's the guy we get to make music with, and he's given us a tremendous opportunity here."

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