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Billy Bob Thornton and J.D. Andrew have played together as The Boxmasters since meeting in 2007. The whole band will perform Friday at Boot Barn Hall. 

Some people made sourdough bread during lockdown. Others did Zoom happy hours.

Billy Bob Thornton and The Boxmasters made a little music. Three albums, to be exact, the second of which, “Help ... I’m Alive,” dropped last month.

“It’s a little more uptempo and with a little bit more universal subjects,” Thornton said in a phone interview. “It’s a lot less dark and anxiety-ridden than the first one we made in shutdown.”

That first one, “Nothing Personal,” has yet to be released, and their third, the holiday-friendly “Christmas in California,” came out in November. Thornton had to be talked into that last one by Boxmasters guitar and bass player, J.D. Andrew, but he finally agreed it was an interesting idea. Of the 10 songs, eight are original.

“You could listen to them and not know they’re Christmas songs,” Thornton said. “They’re dark, humorous ones. It was as cathartic and fun writing those songs for a Christmas album as it was for any other record. Some just sound like Boxmasters songs.”

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Billy Bob Thornton and The Boxmasters will perform Friday at Boot Barn Hall. Their most recently released album, “Help ... I’m Alive,” was one of three records the group made during the pandemic.

Thornton and The Boxmasters will perform Friday at Boot Barn Hall.

You’d be forgiven for scratching your head at the idea of Thornton fronting a band, as you probably know him as an actor. There was the Oscar he won for writing the 1997 film “Sling Blade,” in which he starred as a mentally disabled man, and the slew of ensuing films, including “Primary Colors,” “Armageddon,” “A Simple Plan,” “Monster’s Ball” and “Bad Santa.” And more recently, his award-winning TV roles in FX’s “Fargo” and Amazon’s “Goliath.”

He fell into acting accidentally, but it’s music that’s been his lifelong love. After playing in bands as a kid, he worked for a few years as a roadie for groups such as The Statler Brothers, Johnny Paycheck and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

“It humbled me; that’s for sure,” he said. “It was one of those experiences that when you have your own roadies, you treat them nice. We had it harder than they do now. We didn’t go on the bus. We worked all the time, drove the trucks. I loved every minute of it.”

Thornton began making solo albums in 2001 before meeting Andrew in 2007, when he was hired as a recording engineer for Thornton’s 2007 album, “Beautiful Door.” He asked Andrew to play guitar for a song, and they’ve made music ever since.

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J.D. Andrew and Billy Bob Thornton met in 2007 when Andrews was hired as a recording engineer for Thornton's 2007 album "Beautiful Door." They've been playing together ever since as The Boxmasters.

And what does that music sound like? Each album has a “different sonic stamp,” Thornton said, but they’re always starting from the same foundation: a mad, passionate love for the music of the ‘60s, particularly The Beatles, Beach Boys and The Byrds. Even today, Thornton waxes on about the significance of the groups.

“Everybody was inspired by The Beatles,” he said. “When you look at the greats of all time, it’s the people who started a thing that finally struck a nerve with people. They had a perfect blend together. Chemistry has a lot to do with things. That’s what this band (Boxmasters) has. If you replaced any of those Beatles, they wouldn’t sound the same. Beach Boys, same thing. The Byrds sat down and said. ‘listen to our voices, they blend perfectly.’”

Contact the writer: 719-636-0270

Contact the writer: 719-636-0270

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