Billy Bob Thornton: On Immediacy

“When I’m not with the kids or making a movie, I’m down here in the studio,” says Billy Bob Thornton, noted actor, solo artist, and founding member of hillbilly rockers the Boxmasters. “And we are crazy. We stay up all night and keep recording stuff.”
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But Thornton isn’t some wealthy dilettante escaping from the pressures of stardom by hiding away in a cradle of expensive toys, obsessing over the minute details of tracks the world may never hear. He records tons of complete songs—the latest Boxmaster release clocked in at 23 tracks, and the band’s new Christmas album adds another ten to the output—all typically cooked up and served just a few hours after inspiration first shoots across his brain.

“I like to write songs, and then record and finish them the same night,” says Thornton. “I don’t like to have a rhythm track sitting around for a week or so, and then do the vocal, because you’re never certain if the groove is right until the vocal is cut. If you just do it, then you can listen to a finished track and be sure the song truly works. It’s also kind of a necessity for me to work this way, because if I leave something alone too long, I won’t finish it [laughs]. I’ll start thinking about something else, and move on to the new project.”

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