Boxcar Bandits

Boxcar Bandits - July 2012

Boxcar Bandits Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: June 2, 2012
Posting Date: July 23, 2012
Artist Hometown: Denton, TX
Links:, Facebook
Recorded by: Michael Briggs

How Mountain Girls Can Love
Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line (Jimmy Bryant)
Curling Gnarlers
ONE: What draws you to the style of music you play?
Rex Emerson: I guess we’ve always been playing this kind of music. Austin grew up playing it, Ryan and I have been playing it together for a long time. It’s just a good, old fashioned…just a good, old fashioned handshake.
Ryan Williams: [Laughing] Good, old fashioned handshake!
Grady Don Sandlin: [Laughing] Has the interview begun yet?
Austin Smith: [Laughing] Please, let us know when you’re rolling so we don’t say anything stupid like that.
Grady: I got into this through an Old and in the Way record, and Doc Watson, and Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. When I was 18, when I was listening to that Old and in the Way record, I was like, ‘I’d love to do a band like this’…obviously add the drum, the stupid drum that I play, and it evolved into a thing, a thought that I had then that I’m not sure I had the capability to play then, doing bluegrass, swing and jazz kind of stuff, as well as some— like a rock, like present it like a rock band kind of thing. So, really, I had the idea for this band a long time before Rex did.
Austin: Although Rex still likes to take credit for it. That Old and in the Way stuff is really awesome. That’s a good record.
Grady: Vassar Clements.
Austin: I try to rip off his licks. I know I’m not there yet, but I like that Vassar.
Grady: You’ll get there!
TWO: Can you tell me about ‘skunkgrass’ and ‘fastgrass?’
Rex: Yeah, we play bluegrass pretty fast, and the skunkgrass thing comes from…the Skunk Ape. As in, we’re all just a bunch of Skunk Apes.
Grady: And weed.
Austin: I always thought it was a weed reference.
Ryan: Yeah, it was definitely a weed reference.
Rex: I don’t know what you guys are talking about. What is this ‘weed?’
Austin: It’s a drug that the kids are doing…
Grady: It’s a very, very thinly veiled marijuana reference.
Rex: Skunkgrass…yeah, so, it comes from Skunk Apes.
Ryan: Which are like Sasquatches, right?
Rex: Right. The Southern equivalent of the Yeti or Bigfoot.
DJ: Have you come into contact with a Skunk Ape?
Rex: No…
Ryan: It’s a metaphor for us maybe not existing, I think. That’s probably what it is, right? Like, ‘Maybe it’s not real! Maybe there’s no such thing as skunkgrass! Maybe all of those people are lying!’
Austin: Squatchgrass…Maybe there’s no such thing as the Boxcar Bandits!
Grady: Rex, does it describe our music accurately?
Rex: It does, it does. It’s a very musical term. Skunkgrass…
Ryan: It’s promotional only. That’s all it is.
Grady: Branding. No one else is skunkgrass. We’re innovators.
Ryan: That’s right. It sells. We are the highest echelon of skunkgrass.
Grady: No one else wants it, so, it’s ours.
Ryan: Once there’s a category for the Emmy’s, we’re going to win lots of them.
Grady: ‘And the award for Best Skunkgrass goes to…’
Austin: ‘Backwater Opera!!’
Grady: ‘Can I say ‘F You’ on TV? F You Boxcar Bandits!’
Austin: ‘On this station you can.’
THREE: What are your best and worst experiences from playing on the road?
Austin: Now, that’s a good question. Allow me to field this one, boys. One of our worst experiences was the time we locked Rex in the trailer. He cut his face off and blamed us for it, so he came out in this Herculean fit and made us line up for punches. It was horrible!
Rex: That was a good time.
Grady: I like to think of a real low point as the time that we played a restaurant in Taos, and we met up with these Indian kids at the beer store who invited us to come to the Reservation and party with them. And we did, and we played a little bit, and there was some kid rapping over…us playing, and then they stole our bottle of whiskey.
Austin: And Rex cut off his toe.
Grady: Yeah, and Rex lost a toe, which has since regenerated. But, yeah, the Taos one. I think we promised that we weren’t going back, but we are, in fact, going back this year. It’s been…is that three years?
Rex: We played in Taos last year.
Grady: Okay.
Ryan: Yeah, we’ve already violated that promise. Yeah, they kept telling us what an honor it was for us to come party with them at the Reservation…
Grady: Well, sure! They got a bottle of whiskey out of it! And Rex’s toe!
Ryan: They hit us good. They hit us on all fronts.
Grady: Hmm, best is…
Austin: Driving around shooting fireworks out of the car at 2:30 in the morning?
Grady: Yeah. Right by my right ear. Still has a little ring. Say again? Come again? No, that’s…it’s like, you know, others guys go and go to Vegas or go hunting or something, we go out on tour, have fun and try not to get arrested. I like touring the West. We do New Mexico, Colorado, that’s where we usually do really well and have fun. It’s a great time of year to go right now, when it’s getting really hot. You can go out there and it’s not as hot.
Ryan: God, scenery is the best part? God…
Grady: I don’t know, it’s the people, the whole thing, man.
Ryan: I’m just saying, the best experience from our tours sounds very old and sad of us…
Grady: They’ve got the best drugs and pussy out there!
Ryan: There we go! That’s what I was hoping for!
DJ: My mom lives in Albuquerque. I think she would agree with you.
Grady: You should tell her to come see us.
Ryan: [Laughing] The context here is really, really bad…
Austin: Tell her to bring us some of those drugs.
Grady: Tell her to bring some friends! And some drugs.
Ryan: She’s an open-minded lady, I’m sure.
– Interview and transcription by Dale Jones