When you can woo an Indigo Girl over dinner one night with just your vocal talents, it's clear you've got it good. The Shadowboxers did just that and ended up the backing musicians for the "girls" on a handful of tours. But this trio isn't just a bunch of good pipes; this band is ready to show the world it has a bigger niche to carve and many more fans to win over.
On March 26, the Shadowboxers will play Culture Room, pulling double duty as the opening band (you'll want to get there early) for the Indigo Girls and backing them up as well. New Times had a chat with Matt Lipkins, who sings and plays keys for the band.
New Times: Your debut album, Red Room, was released in January of this year, and fans can buy a copy of it on vinyl at your store online. Why did you decide to press vinyl as well?
: I think in the past three to five years, there has been this increased demand for the revival of vinyl. I think it is a combination of logic where real listeners are starting to stand up for their music. MP3s sound like crap, CDs sound OK, but I think listeners are starting to really understand how warm it makes the music sound.
Then suddenly, a lot of bands began to rerelease their older albums on vinyl, and they were selling pretty quick.
For instance, I was at a record store a few years back, and My Morning Jacket released one of their albums on vinyl, and with the vinyl they include the digital download. The market is drawing this balance between knowing the consumer needs that accessibility of an MP3, but understanding that it isn't the best way to hear that music.
We want our listeners to know we care about the quality of our sound. We mastered it specifically for vinyl, and we're really excited about it.
The Shadowboxers originally started touring as the backing band to Indigo Girls, but you also spent a whole tour opening for them. What was the biggest thing you learned as a musician while pulling double duty like that?
We've actually spent four tours backing them up and opening for them. What's interesting about opening for them and also playing with them is that the dynamic has to change dramatically from when we are onstage for Shadowboxers and when we are onstage for Indigo Girls.
You go from being loud, outgoing, self-promoting musicians to turning all of that completely off in order to take the stage to promote someone else. And when you're working to promote someone else, you have to take a backseat.
I think that essentially playing two shows a night really helped us understand the dynamic of working together. The idea that there are different ways to shine and not all of those opportunities have to be spent promoting just yourself, but promoting the people you're working with as well.
The Shadowboxers kind of pride themselves on not fitting into one genre, but what else do you pride yourselves on?
Our songwriting is a source of pride for us. Just like how we recorded our album with a sense of quality, we also carry that quality throughout our sound. There are three of us in the band. All three of us sing and all three of us write. That's a lot of cooks in the kitchen. We strove for a sense of balance and quality in our songwriting that I think translated well into the finished products.
How did raising the band in Atlanta form your sound?
When we set out in the Atlanta music scene, we noticed that there were a lot of different genres being represented locally. There is a huge hip-hop culture, as well as a solid independent rock feel. I consider what we do as pop, and when you make pop music, it isn't always easy to fit into a scene. There actually wasn't anyone else doing what we were doing up there. So what ended up happening was, we took from all of those influences and molded them into our own music. We think it gives us some sort of an edge.
What is your favorite part of touring? Do you have a favorite place to play? Or something you're looking forward to seeing along the way? Something you've already seen?
You know what's really cool about touring? That moment you realize you've made a new fan. When the show is over and someone walks up to you and says "Never heard of you guys, but man, that was great!" is something that is just so awesome to hear. It's nuts to hear.
Aside from that though, it is really cool to play in venues you've always heard about, but have never actually been. Landmarks like the Beacon Theater and the Ryman Auditorium.
The Shadowboxers funded this album based on a Kickstarter account. Why did you decide to go the Kickstarter route? How did it come together?
After a few tours with the Indigo Girls, we would get these new fans that would post on Facebook or whatever about how they couldn't wait for a record and offering so much support, and so it became more of a community effort to put the album together once our fans were given the opportunity to contribute.
It gives us a bit more drive and focus knowing that it's not money that was just thrown at us from a record label to make the album but literally from the pockets of our fans.
And people were so much more generous than we expected. It really gives a whole new purpose to the internet. Whereas it can be such a cold and sterile environment most of the time, a situation like Kickstarter is really an opportunity to show real support to people trying to make their dreams a reality.
What's next up for the Shadowboxers?
It'd be interesting to see what a festival has to offer us. Hangout Fest
or something like that would really cool.
Frank Zappa or Bob Dylan?
Bob Dylan. It has to be. I love Frank Zappa, but Bob Dylan. He can write songs that are so simple and also so overwhelming.