- June 2015 -
HAVE A BEER WITH THE SHADOWBOXERS
Meet The Shadowboxers, a Nashville-by-way-of-Atlanta soul/pop outfit who recently played at Chicago’s Schubas Tavern. Members Scott Schwartz, Matt Lipkins and Adam Hoffman experienced an almost-instantaneous musical compatibility when they first started writing together, and since the band’s inception, they’ve forged a cohesive sound grounded in captivating lyrics, tight harmonies and soulful vocals. With inspirations like Simon & Garfunkel, D’Angelo and The Beatles, The Shadowboxer’s sound has an R&B-soaked perspective with strong pop and soul influences.
We had a chance to talk with the guys about van activities, gas station hangouts and the all-important continental breakfast.
Drinks of Choice: Matt Lipkins (Negroni); Scott Schwartz (Riptide Rush Gatorade); Adam Hoffman (Beer)
Upcoming Gigs: Electric Forest Festival // Rothbury, Michigan // Sunday, June 28 // 5:30 p.m. at The Hangar + 11:30 p.m. at The Grand Artique
See the full tour schedule here.
Adam: I was going to say Listerine was my drink of choice, but…
Matt: You should see Adam go in on the Listerine. It is a sight to behold.
Kristen from A Beer with the Band: Just so we’re clear: you’re talking about the mouthwash, correct?
Adam: Yeah, the cool mint or fresh mint or whatever. The blue kind.
Kristen: I’m a big mouthwash fan. It’s very important.
Adam: Listerine now makes a natural version and it says on the bottle, “As effective as regular Listerine.” Why would you not buy that one?
Scott: Because it’s Listerine. You want your mouth to be on fire.
Kristen: Have you ever tried Tom’s toothpaste before? It’s natural, but it just doesn’t get the job done.
Scott: When it comes to my mouth, the more chemicals the better.
Matt: We actually use that as an inspirational band quote: “When it comes to my mouth, the more chemicals the better.”
Adam: There was a sticker last night at the venue last night for a band called “Bleach Drinker.”
Kristen: That’s almost more rock star-sounding than the band “Diarrhea Planet.”
Matt: They’re a good band!
Kristen:They are a good band.So, I was reading thatyou met at Emory, and that one of you saw the other’s iTunes library listed, checked it out and thought it was legit enough to reach out. How did that initial conversation go down? Was it creepily like, “Hey, I saw your iTunes library…Let’s hang out.”
Matt: You nailed it. I sent a Facebook message that pretty much said just that.
Adam: Yeah, I got this weird, weird message from another male that was like, “Hey, man. I’ve been creeping on your iTunes because that’s what I do. And I saw you like a lot of the same music I do. Wanna hang out?” So I said, “Yeah.”
Kristen: Where was the first hangout? Did you guys go and jam or grab a beer?
Adam: No, we went and saw the movie “Across the Universe”
Matt: It was really hetero.
Kristen: What were some of the songs you saw on there that made you want to reach out?
Matt: Well, first I saw that he had original music, which was exciting for me because I knew that he had written in high school and I had written in high school. So, we had that in common. I also saw that he listened to Gabe Dixon, who I don’t think was very well-known; I’m not sure he is now. He’s kind of a small songwriter from Nashville. He also had this guy Ryan Shaw in his library— who’s a gospel guy. At the time, I was into both of those artists, and I thought to myself, “Wow, this guy’s got good taste.”
Kristen:What are you guys listening to right now? What’s playing when you’re in the van?
Scott: Tobias Jesso Jr.
Matt: And we also love the new Allen Stone record.
Adam: But mostly in the van we play ‘70s funk music.
Matt: Or ‘80s cheesy pop. Basically anything that sounds like “Sussudio.”
Kristen: Nice. So I take it not a lot of sleeping happens when you’re en route. What is the van vibe?
Adam: It’s very democratic. We watch a lot of movies. Bad action movies.
Matt: …Mostly bad action movies.
Adam: The driver really rotates out, so we all catch one film a day — at a minimum.
Kristen: And where are you guys onto next?
Matt: Green Bay, Wisconsin. We’re playing The Lyric Room.
Matt: We’re excited. We’ve never been there before.
Kristen:I’ve never been to that specific venue. But I can tell you that the people in Wisconsin are really nice. And the cheese is really good. Speaking of food, let’s say you guys go into a gas station on the road. Food wise, what’s your one guilty gas station pleasure?
Scott: I think our most popular stop is the Pilot gas station Subway. Especially when it’s a big one with the truck stops and the showers there…We’ve never showered there, but it’s nice to know people are showering when we’re eating our Subway.
Matt: We should take a shower there one of these days, as a band, just to continue the heterosexual vibe.
Kristen: That might be a lucrative business idea, actually. Open up pit stops for bands to shower and do their laundry at. Let’s talk music. You have a “First Tuesday” cover series, where you pick a song and cover it. How do you pick the songs?
Matt: Just a lot of aggressive arguments.
Kristen: Does someone throw out a song idea?
Scott: Yeah, we’ll make a suggestion.
Matt: We try to alternate between contemporary and classic.
Adam: It really comes down to a lot of arguing though. Yeah, and the suggestions aren’t really based on anything. It’s just a song we want to do, or a song we think people would like.
Scott: It’s funny because our arguments are never anything more than suggested opinions. So, there really isn’t any arguing that needs to be done. We didn’t even have a format for this series, and there was no real demographic we were trying to play to or viewership we were trying to gain or enhance.
Adam: We did it all wrong.
Scott: We just did songs that we like and tried to vary it up a little bit – some contemporary, some older. As a band, we have a lot of influences and we like the idea of showing people all of them. And going all over the map. We did one by Pharrell; we did one by Paul Simon; we did one by Ladysmith Black Mambazo; we were all over the place. And that was it. The only thing wereally wanted to do was not do two or three in a row that were the same.
Matt: Or not do “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus.
Kristen: Why not? I feel like you guys could have killed that.
Matt: I really wanted to do that song.
Scott: You know, the song would have worked, but it’s hard to get three wrecking balls together, so the video concept wouldn’t have worked.
Matt: It would have been weird. We would have kept bumping into each other, and everyone would have been making jokes about balls.
Kristen: That’s awesome. Do you have a favorite that you’ve done?
Matt: I think my favorite was the last one, just because I remember we finished the shoot and we were like, “We finally figured out how to do these right!” The last one was Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Suite Judy Blue Eyes,” and we did the whole song in one take — one long shot. We were really happy with the end product. It felt like a culmination of a whole year of work, and we had a bunch of friends help us out with the video. It was a really good collaboration.
Kristen: Are you guys currently based in Atlanta when you’re not on the road, or are you guys spread out?
Scott: We moved to Nashville at the beginning of this year.
Kristen: Awesome. What are you liking about it so far?
Scott: It’s just a simpler, more effective living situation for us so far. In Atlanta, we had other things we were doing. Now, we’re more focused on the band and our team is based in Nashville, which is one of the reasons we moved. So, we’re just kind of working more efficiently.
Adam: Also, there’s a river there. It’s nice to be near a body of water.
Kristen: For sure. Is the music scene in Atlanta picking up?
Scott: Not necessarily…I mean it might be, but it’s not our style. But maybe that was good for us. I think having vibrancy playing there gave us sort of an identity moving into a new city. We feel like we have sort of a unique niche in the Nashville scene now instead of being one of the other million singer/songwriters.
Kristen: That makes sense.
Matt: It’s like an actor moving to L.A. that had a spot on a TV show. It’s like, “Alright! He’s got something.”
Kristen: Do you live together in Nashville?
Matt: Yeah, four of us live in a house, and one of us lives in a house with a wife and two dogs.
Kristen: What is it like working together, living together, touring together…? Do you guys ever get sick of each other?
Adam: Oh yeah.
Kristen: Of the band members, who is the most annoying to be with in the van?
Scott: Everyone has the potential to be the most annoying.
Adam: Great way to put it.
Matt: Scott is always on his own time. And I don’t want to name names, but we have a member in the band whose farts just ruin everything. The second it hits someone, they start screaming, and then another person, and they start screaming. It’s like someone set off a bomb in the car.
Kristen: Oh man. That sounds fun.
Matt: It’s really fun.
Kristen: In a bar scenario, who in the band would be most likely to take shots?
Adam: Probably Scott or our bass player Carlos.
Kristen: Who would be most likely to hop behind the bar and pour the drinks?
Matt: As in “Let me show you how to make something?”
Scott: No one in the band would do that.
Kristen: How about hitting the dance floor?
Scott: Probably me.
Matt: Yeah, probably Scott.
Kristen: And what about manning the jukebox?
Scott: The one who would be most likely to go home early would be Adam.
Scott: He’s up and at ‘em in the morning every time. But we’re also going out at 11, so it’s not that crazy to go home early.
Kristen: Speaking of going home early, what’s the least rock-‘n’-roll thing you’ve done this week?
Matt: This is a great question.
Matt: We just watched “Bridesmaids” in the back of the van.
Scott: Also, we stayed at a Comfort Suites last night, and the fact that all five of us were up on time to make sure we could get the continental breakfast in the morning is not rock-‘n’-roll at all.
Scott: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Kristen: You’ve gotta take advantage.
Scott: You have to hit that window.
Kristen: What’s your go-to for breakfast food?
Scott: I like a bowl of cereal.
Matt: I don’t think anyone in the band is going to complain about good cereal.
Kristen: Do you do the healthy cereal or the elementary school?
Scott: Some of us do healthy. Two or three guys in the band will do Kashi or whatever, and then I go for the elementary school cereal: Fruit Loops, Honey Nut Cheerios, Honeycomb...
Adam: Count Chocula…
Kristen: What about Cinnamon Toast Crunch?
Matt: We’re down.
Scott: Oh yeah, totally down.
Kristen: I’ll have to bring you the fun pack next time you’re in Chicago. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Adam: I was going over to my girlfriend’s house in middle school and my parents didn’t really like her. We were driving over there, and before my dad dropped me off he said, “Just keep your pants on!” It really helped me out a lot.
Kristen: And it has helped you out in life since?
Adam: Keep your pants on!
Matt: Oh yeah. Keep them on.
Kristen: I take it you’re not still with the middle school girlfriend then, if your parents didn’t approve of her.
Adam: Not still with her.
Matt: But the thing about “Keep your pants on” is that it’s really a metaphor for life. You can apply it to anything.
Scott: Yeah, you can. Warren Zevon said, when he was asked what the key to life was, said, “Never turn down a sandwich.” That’s good advice.
Kristen: What if you’re really full?
Scott: You save it. You take it to-go.
Kristen: That’s smart. What if you don’t have a place to store the sandwich? No refrigerator?
Scott: Then you give it to a homeless person.
Adam: There’s always something you can do with the sandwich. You can get creative.