Q&A with Paul Waclawsky of The Boxing Lesson

Hello Paul! How are you doing? I’m excited to find out more about you after catching your fantastic video for the slow-burning stunner “Muerta”, which I reviewed here at DOA. I’ve also had the chance to listen to the whole Muerta EP, which you released in the beginning of August on New Fortune Records. When did you first start up the band and have you always been based out of Austin, Texas?

We are doing well, thanks for asking. The Boxing Lesson started up in Los Angeles around 2002 when we released a couple of EPs. I brought the band name to Austin a few years later, when I teamed up with Jaylinn, and have called this home ever since.

I’ve read that you’ve run through at least three drummers (hopefully not in Spinal Tap fashion!). Do you have a permanent drummer now, or is there still a turnover?

We’ve been through quite a few drummers but none of them have exploded on us yet. Our last permanent drummer was Jake Mitchell, who gets out of prison in July 2012. I miss that guy. We are actually once again searching for a new drummer and holding auditions next week. We’re always looking for the right player to join us for the next boxing lesson.

So the Muerta EP isn’t your first recording?

No, but it’s the first release of ours that features an instrumental track. The Boxing Lesson’s debut 4-song EP was released in 2003 and can be downloaded for free here:

http://theboxinglesson.bandcamp.com/album/the-boxing-lesson

 

Certain music reviewers have mentioned your use of Moog synthesizers and possible Pink Floyd influence – and the first song of the EP is titled “Darker Side of the Moog”. Are you big fans of that band and/or the Moog sonic experience?

Yes, we are big fans of Pink Floyd and Moog Synthesizers. When I hear music in my head, it usually comes along with sweeping envelope filters. Jaylinn has a Mini-Moog Voyager and it provides most of the spacey sounds you hear on our recordings.

Were the swelling organ tones at the end of “Muerta” created by the Moog synth?  Can you go into what’s so special about a Moog synth versus other synths?

Those organ sounds were played on the Korg Triton. The Triton has a massive amount of organs, strings and choirs that sound legit. Moog synths have gorgeous sounding filters and visual aesthetic. You just have to demo one to see, hear and feel it. There has been a Moog used on every Boxing Lesson recording since the beginning. It’s pretty much a staple for the space-rock sound we are hearing. Over the years we’ve used a PolyMoog, Source, Opus-3 and now we use a Mini-Moog Voyager primarily.

Who came up with the mesmerizing video concept for “Muerta”? It seems to fit the song so well… I’m pretty sure computer-based effects were used extensively in the video. What was the shoot like for you? Did you have to be submerged in the water at all?

Jonathan London was the director on the “Muerta” video and the concept was all his. I think the video fits the song perfectly. Jonathan submitted a treatment to us a year ago or more that outlined the process and we were floored. It was a blast watching the director’s vision come to life and a real unique experience the first time I saw the finished video. We didn’t have to be submerged in water at all. After we had our clothing ripped up and some light make-up applied, they suspended me up in the air so they could shoot my feet. All the post-production magic was done by the talented Will Kistler. The scene with the electric eels comes to mind. The colors are awesome.

I love the slow-building tension and release of your songs, and I particularly enjoy the fact that you both sing on the tracks and it’s not just instrumentals. Have you ever considered being an all-instrumental band with no vocals, or was that never an option?

Thanks, we are drawn to slow-building tension in our music usually building off a minimal framework although we never wanted this to be an instrumental band.

Paul, I like your expressive, sometimes anguished or anxious vocals that pull the listener into the soundscapes. Do you have to get into a certain frame of mind while playing live in order to reach that type of emotion?

I have lived and breathed these songs for a while now and I don’t have to do much to get in the right mindset when it comes to performing these songs. I guess I’m just an anxious person!

Have you played SXSW or been there as fans of other bands?

Yes, we’ve played SXSW many times now. We are part of the festival in one way or another each year and have been there as a fan of many bands numerous times. My most memorable SXSW show was watching Liars perform at Antone’s a couple years ago. They melted my mind.

What is your live show like? How does it differ from what you’ve put on record?

The live show is similar to what we’ve put on record because these recordings basically capture a live performance. Most of our set these days is made up of songs from our upcoming LP in addition to the tracks from Muerta. This project seems to be happiest when we are constantly writing and evolving. This year, we did many shows that incorporated visuals. Our brand of music really is enhanced with colors and pattern being projected over us playing. It seems to make us perform better too.

What are you plans for the future? How is the full-length coming along?

We have recorded a full length album that we are calling Possibilities and it was produced by Chris “Frenchie” Smith at the Bubble here in Austin.  Frenchie added a ton of mojo to the record. It’s a wave of shorter rock songs that still feel dark and epic. We condensed a lot of things this time around and really fleshed out the songs like never before. In a lot of ways it’s a departure from the long-playing, sweeping songs on our current EP although we still managed to slip a few long-playing, massive prog tracks on it. On our 9-minute song, “Endless Possibilities”, we brought in a make-shift orchestra to fill it out; trombone, saxophone, cello, bassoon, French horn and more can be heard throughout the track giving it a lot of texture. It’s the first time we have done anything like this. We can’t wait to release it sometime soon!

Official Site: http://theboxinglesson.bandcamp.com/