|Formed by Blink 182 guitarist, Tom DeLonge and drummer Travis Barker, to pay tribute to the punk bands that influenced them, Box Car Racer has evolved into a full-fledged rock foursome, that plays a less poppy, more hardcore flavor of punk with Over My Dead Body guitarist Dave Kennedy, and bassist Anthony Celestino. Guitar Center caught up with Travis and Anthony to talk about their side-project band, their gear, and what's ahead of them.
GC: What basses are you using now?
Anthony: I'm using Fender Jazz Basses. I'd like to get a Rickenbacker. I just think those things are awesome. That's pretty much it. I like what Fender makes. I like the P-Bass, but my heart is with the Jazz Bass, I just like the way it feels.
GC: What is it about the Rickenbacker that you like?
Anthony: It's ugly and it's been around for days. I love the crunchiness it puts out. It's a well-put guitar. It's such a big monstrosity, a big ugly thing. It kind of turns me on! Eventually I 'd also like to get a Carl Thompson bass. That would be nice.
GC: What are you using amp wise?
Anthony: I'm using two Mesa Boogie Bass 400's. I was a total hard-core Ampeg fan and I still am. I totally dig Ampeg but Tom actually steered me into the Mesa Boogie and I was totally satisfied and happy with it. It sounds amazing. It's well-rounded gear.
GC: Are you using any pedals or effects when you're out playing live?
Anthony: I'm using an old AXR distortion pedal. I don't remember what series it is, but I used a little Rat pedal at the last show. Other than that, those are the only effects that I really use.
GC: Travis, are you using a different kit than what you use with Blink 182?
Travis: No, I still play Orange County Drum and Percussion.
GC: Travis, you guys worked with Jerry Finn, who has done previous work with Blink 182, Green Day, and Sum 41. What made you want to go with him on this particular project?
Travis: Tom really works well with Jerry and helps him with parts. Jerry doesn't act like a producer a--hole kind of guy he just acts like one of the guys, like a friend, and gives you his honest opinion and always has a lot of input in everything we do. He's just a good person to work with.
GC: Travis, can you take me through the process of how you guys worked together on a song from beginning to end?
Travis: Tom usually decides what key he is going to sing the song in and then I decide what time signature it's going to be, how fast it will be. I mainly have a lot to do with song structure and tempos and stuff.
GC: How did you guys decide what songs ended up on the album?
Travis: We wrote this album two weeks before we decided to record it. We only had so many songs and then we went in and recorded it. We did the same with the Blink album. The same thing happens, we write two weeks prior to the studio, go in and record it and it's history.
GC: Anthony, can you tell me what it's like to come in and suddenly start playing someone else's music? How did you adjust to playing someone else's vision of a song?
Anthony: I think it has a lot to do with feeling. I totally dig all the songs and prior to me playing it, I heard it when Travis was showing it to me. It's really simple, not busy or anything and I was always the type of person that would put a feel here or do a little busy there. This is more of a driving thing rather than trying to show people that I can play the bass guitar. For the most part it's easier, but simplicity is the best, I think.
GC: How did you guys get together for this project?
Anthony: Actually, Travis was talking about it and I had mentioned that maybe I could audition for it or try out for it. We were talking about doing something before any of that, but it was just basically talk and when we finally said it was a go, then we started rehearsing and we're here today.
||GC: Travis, what are the key differences between this band and Blink? Are you now allowing yourself to do something in Box Car Racer that you don't do in Blink?
Travis: Well yeah. Blink has really, really fast tempos. It's really fast and there's not a whole lot of room. In Box Car, it's slower. I mean, there are like jazzy bridges and it's just totally different. It's so much more open and roomy, like I can do so much more and the band can do so much more. It's just a totally different approach to the drums. Playing in a band that plays at tempos that are 200 beats per minute comparable to Box Car where we are playing like 120 beats per minute on some songs. It's much slower and much more roomy.
GC: Does this band have a different goal in mind than Blink?
Travis: Our only goal is to record a record and be super happy with it when it is all said and done, which we are. Now we are just playing shows to support it and we're letting the fans of the CD watch us play live. There's no big goal in the end to sell like a million records or anything. We could care less!
GC: Is your role different in this band besides being the drummer and writing the arrangements?
Travis: There is not too much more we can do. Me and Tom wrote the album. Besides that, we would have had a full band together and Anthony would've played on the album if we had members then. But it was like let's do this. It was a creative process to happen in the studio. And then it was like, "Ok, let's find the rest of our team," and we recruited them. It was on after that. We work as a band just like anyone else does. We all have equal say in merchandise. We all have equal say in artwork, pictures, whatever.
GC: As a band, what do you guys have in mind for Box Car? Are you going on the road?
Anthony: Yeah. Late in the fall we're planning to tour in the states. Small venues--nothing over 1,000-seat capacity.
GC: Travis, did you think that people were going to make the comparison between Box Car and Blink? Did that affect how you guys approached your music and your lyrics?
Travis: No, not at all. When we wrote this album, we didn't know if it was going to be on a label or if we were going to put it out ourselves. It was pretty up in the air. So we had no idea how many people it was going to reach. Once MCA jumped on board, it was kind of like, "Whatever! That's cool. Cheers! Put it out, we don't really care!" I especially don't care what the critics say. Most of them are like 50 years old and they're not really educated in what kind of music we're playing to begin with! The overall response to this album has been ridiculous. We didn't have much push or anything, we didn't do a whole lot of promo before the album came out and it still did really well. The numbers were amazing for what we expected. We didn't expect it to do much of anything, but there wasn't a whole lot of pressure. Some people obviously compare it to Blink because me and Tom are members of Blink, but that has nothing to do with it. It's neither of our side projects. It's just another band.
GC: Do you plan on taking any extra gear with you on the road to capture any ideas that you've been kicking around?
Travis: Nope, just my Orange County Drum and Percussion.
Anthony: He plays guitar too now!
Travis: Anthony is going to bring out his Fender guitar and his Mesa Boogie cabinets. I'll bring out my Orange County Drum and Percussion with DW hardware, Zildjian crashes, along with an Oriental Crash of Doom and a 17" China Boy, DW drum pedals, and my own Travis Barker signature sticks. Along with that, I play Remo heads. On occasion, I use a Roland TR-808.
GC: What's next for you?
Travis: The next thing is actually another band that's called The Transplants. It's myself, Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman of Rancid. So I'm doing that. We tour in July and we're coming out on Hell Cat Records in October!
GC: Didn't Tim do some stuff on the Box Car Racer album?
Travis: Yeah, during the time we recorded Box Car, The Transplants was getting started. I was showing Tim the stuff as I was working on for Box Car stuff and he was like, "Man I really enjoy this stuff. I want to come in and sing on one of these songs!" And it just kind of happened. He's just a good friend of mine and he came and sang. He just supported the band, supported the whole idea.
GC: So basically what we are listening to is friends getting together, writing music, just enjoying being around each other and feeding off each other's creativity?
Travis: Tim's whole part in the album, we weren't giving out any material for anyone to listen to. We didn't really plan on anyone guest appearing. Tim came in and just free styled. He had like 20 minutes to sit there and think of something and then he just free styled! It was actually the second take that we kept. It was perfect!