Billy Bob Thornton pursues first love with band

Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:29am EDT
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By Matthew Lewis

CHICAGO (Reuters) - He is an acclaimed actor and Oscar winner for writing the movie "Sling Blade" but most of the time Billy Bob Thornton would rather be pursuing his first love: music.

Thornton's band, the Boxmasters, releases its first album on Tuesday, a dual CD with one disc of original songs written by Thornton and second with covers of the likes of Mott the Hoople, the Louvin Brothers, the Who and Chad and Jeremy.

Thornton, credited as W.R. "Bud" Thornton partly to distinguish from his movie star status, released four solo albums between 2001 and 2007, but it is this latest incarnation -- as drummer, singer and songwriter for the Boxmasters -- that he thinks brings him closest to his true calling.

"I've always been committed to music first," Thornton told Reuters. "It just so happened that I accidentally became a movie star. So it's really more like I use the movies to keep me from going broke between records."

The 52-year-old native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, has been playing drums since he was 9 and as a young man he kicked around the fringes of the music industry, including a stint as a roadie for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in the mid-1970s.

He remembers when his mother gave him his first album of his very own -- the soundtrack to Elvis Presley's 1958 movie "King Creole." His favorite record of all time is the Allman Brothers' 1971 "At Fillmore East." Among his unfulfilled ambitions are to write a song someday with two of his idols, Kris Kristofferson and John Prine.

His Boxmasters bandmates include J.D. Andrew, who co-wrote several songs, and Mike Butler, whose blazing guitar licks pepper the album. Thornton describes the band's music as "Hillbilly British Invasion" and they plan to hit the road and tour the United States this summer, Thornton said.

HILLIBLLY MASH-UP   Continued...

<p>The members of The Boxmasters pose n this publicity photo provided by Vanguard Records to Reuters June 9, 2008. REUTERS/Myriam Santos/Vanguard Records/Handout</p>