Maybe you wonder what actor Billy Bob Thornton might be like in real life and maybe you wonder how your conception of Billy Bob Thornton might be different from the reality of Billy Bob Thornton.

Asked what surprised him when he first met Thornton, J.D. Andrew cited something especially unexpected.

“You know, the main thing that people don’t know is…his aroma. It’s very specific,” Andrew said. “You can’t know that through a record or a TV show.”

“You’ve been in a porta potty before, right?” Thornton chimed in.

Thornton and Andrew aren’t just partners in banter. They are partners in a band.

The band is called the Boxmasters and it will perform at 7:30 pm on June 9 at the Eagles Theatre in Wabash.

Thornton and Andrew recently spoke with Fort Wayne magazine from California by way of a Zoom call.

“It’s a brewery,” Thornton said, describing his surroundings. “They have these picnic tables back by the dressing rooms. So we said, ‘Let’s sit outside.’ But we soon realized that we’re going to have more of a tan than we really want.”

Thornton is, of course, a successful and much-decorated actor. But the truth about acting is that he just sort of fell into it.

What he really wanted to be was a musician.

He recalled performing at a high school dance dressed as Jim Dandy of Black Oak Arkansas.

He didn’t realize until it was too late that his off-the-rack white tights were somewhat transparent.

“We were promptly escorted out of town by the authorities,” he said. “If it had been today with social media, my musical aspirations would have been over.”

About five years after he made “Sling Blade,” the movie that established him as a movie star and a cinematic force, Thornton started recording solo albums.

It was while Thornton was working on his fourth, “Beautiful Door,” that a friend recommended Andrew as someone who could help him get the job done.

“It was supposed to be for two weeks,” Andrew said.

“That was 16 years ago,” Thornton said.

The guys liked each other from the very beginning.

“We don’t now, of course,” Thornton said.

“I guess I can’t get rid of you, and you can’t get rid of me,’ Andrew said.

The musical chemistry generated by these gentlemen made Thornton decide to stop making

solo albums and start making Boxmasters albums.

“Everything just kind of fell into place,” Andrew said. “Literally from that first song that we recorded. We just had something. Billy recognized it more than I did. I just was like, ‘Well, this is cool.’ But it gave him the idea that he should take some of these things and mash them together. That’s kind of what we did with the first Boxmasters records. We took the British invasion stuff and brought it together with an insane David Allen Coe sort of thing.”

The band’s name is a slang term that will go undefined here.

Thornton said the sound of the band has evolved so much that the early recordings “don’t sound like us.”

Actors who moonlight as musicians are treated with skepticism by critics, but Thornton’s and Andrews’ music as the Boxmasters has earned accolades.

The band is unusual among contemporary rock acts in that it records prolifically, doesn’t play covers and doesn’t try to produce chart-toppers.

Before a tour, the band assembles a set list, rehearses the heck out of it and doesn’t change it one iota thereafter.

“Honestly, we don’t have enough mental capacity to try to remember enough songs to change our set list every night,” Andrew said. “All of us are far too old to be out playing anymore.”

Professionalism is the real reason for the immutable set list, Thornton said.

“When you rehearse for a tour, you want to give the audience your best show,” he said. “Once you’re a few shows into the tour, you get pretty tight (on the set list). We want to present that to the audience as opposed to every night having some weird thing, like where the bass player goes to the bridge before everybody else.

“You don’t want to do that,” Thornton said. “Not that it doesn’t happen anyway if we’ve had a few too many.”

“We want to make sure that everybody gets the best show, whether this is the first time they’re seeing us or the 100th time they’re seeing us,” Andrew said. “We’re just guys with arthritic hands that are up there trying to play rock and roll.” Tickets start at $29. 106 W. Market Street, Wabash, 260.563.3272, honeywellarts.org/eagles-theatre







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