Interview with BoomBox at the 8th Annual Gem and Jam Festival

Last week marked the 8th annual Tucson Gem and Jam Festival. The event brought together a strong community based around live visual art, performance art, and, of course, music from world renown DJs in the psychedelic/electronic scene.  I had the chance to sit down with funk-masters and headliners, BoomBox, before their set on the main stage of the festival. We discussed their brand new album, setting up for live shows, and what fans can look forward to for the rest of the year.

Parisa Eshrati: We're stoked to have you guys playing the 8th Annual Gem and Jam this year. I know you guys don't plan out your setlist before prior to your performances and live shows are always unique to the venue and crowd. So how do you feel that the Gem and Jam crowd mixed with the desert environment of Tucson will direct your set for tonight?
Zion Rock Godchaux: Well, hopefully they'll be into it. If so, I don't know how to gauge the crowd's personality. It's like meeting someone for the first time.
Russ Randolph: We came in last night and walked around, kinda got an idea of the the people are moving about and how the mindset is. But I think it'll go pretty well. The potential is definitely there for a good time.
Zion Rock Godchaux: Last night, I didn't really see anybody playing the kind of music that we do. It was more of downtempo, breakbeat or whatever. So hopefully people will dig what we do.

PE: Do you guys find that the physical environment of the venue will dictate how you set up your lineup for that evening?
Russ: It's definitely a variable, for sure. But it's more so in how that environment affects the audience person-to-person. It'll effect the way they're moving about or if they are more adventurous, or whatever it is.
Zion: That element definitely factors into how we play. Personally, how my mind works, musically, creatively, etc.
Russ: The desert has an infinite quality. There's something about the openness. It's very cool.

Parisa: Do you guys have a preference for the setting of your show, whether it's a festival setting or more intimate venue?
Russ: There are definitely pluses to both of those worlds. It's an amazing experience to lock and connect with a large crowd. But it's equally amazing to do so with a small crowd, despite it being slightly different.
Zion: But I love playing outdoors. You don't have to deal with the sonic anamolies of playing in a club and it's a little bit freer. You can throw sounds out there without worrying about having those sounds hit you in the face on the way back.

PE: You guys dropped your latest album, Filling in the Color, just this past January. For this release, you guys actually started a Kickstarter funding project to help get the album released and promoted. What made you guys decide to stay indepdenet of any outside help form any promoters or label and do this on your own?
Russ: We don't take direction very well. [laughs] We don't like when people tell us what to do.
Zion: Since the beginning, we've always just wanted to make it on our own 100% and not be in huge debt to somebody. We figured the music should speak for itself and hopefully get us to where we need to be without some moneybag somewhere.
PE: I'm sure that was a nice added connection to your fans since they took a part of this album.
Russ: It was amazing. It was absolutely amazing.
Zion: Knowing that they appreciated it that much...
Russ:Just incredible to know that people would put in an amount of money to contribute to our artistic project. Just awesome.

PE: Tell us a little bit about the recording process of this album. I know it took a couple years of to get this album recorded, so what were some of the main struggles or highlights of this process?
Russ: The cool thing about this record is that it was recorded in many different phases in many different types of environments. From real brick-walled recording studios, to hotel rooms, a van, or just wherever we were at the moment. Somtimes even backstage and some of the material was recorded from live shows.
Zion: The live aspect was definitely one of the highlights.
Russ: We really figured out how to make it work. How to sound good and still have that studio quality, but also have that energy from a live show.
Zion: it was a really big victory, because we had been talking about if it could be done for a year, at least. Just askin' all these questions like, "Ah, but would this really work? Should it all be studio quality?" But over half the songs from the record have elements that were pulled from the live show. Guitar parts, or key parts, or something.
Russ: It adds a little different energy and keeps it more raw.

PE: You guys started off your winter tour in Frisco just a couple of weeks ago, and only have a few stops left. Tell us a couple things that describe the smell of your tour van at this point.
Russ: Well, the good thing is that we flew into this tour. So we're starting off with a fresh van! It's only been a week so it's not that bad. We can only destroy a van so much within a week.
Zion: The one we left off with before had a couple sandwiches left behind there.

PE: What are some things that Boombox fans can look forward to in the rest of 2014?
Russ: We just started the process on working on music videos for the all songs off the new album. We're putting out some new tracks too. We've already started working on a new album, which is going to be a live album. I'm not sure about the timeline for that, but it's something we'll be working on throughout this year.


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