The Boxmasters recently recorded tracks for their forthcoming album at Barefoot Recording studios in Hollywood. Founded by Billy Bob Thornton and J.D. Andrew in 2007, the band booked Barefoot when their longtime studio of choice was unavailable.
“Tim Davis, of UnderToneAudio, got in touch with me when Barefoot opened to the public last year,” recalls Boxmasters’ J.D. Andrew. “We knew Tim from his days at Recorded Media Supply when he took care of our tape and hard drive needs. So, we booked Barefoot and discovered a really cool, vibey studio that sounds great and has a collection of equipment and recording gear that is pretty much unmatched.”
Before he formed The Boxmasters, frontman Thornton had played in bands since middle school, worked as a roadie, and in the 2000’s released four solo albums. After forming The Boxmasters, the group embarked on many tours across North America, and opened shows for ZZ Top, Steve Miller, and Willie Nelson. The band has released eight albums, with 2019’s “Speck” on KeenTone Records/Thirty Tigers being the most recent.
“Most commercial studios have a console, a room, microphones, and that’s about it,” J.D. Andrew explains. “So you bring in all your stuff, and that’s what you make a record with. At Barefoot, there’s so much stuff – a wall of guitars, a room full of amps, pianos, organs, a unique console and a big array of UTA outboard gear.”
A musician his entire life, J.D. Andrew is also a graduate of Full Sail University and worked as an engineer at Record Plant in LA with artists such as Kanye West, Keyshia Cole and the Pussycat Dolls. He won a Grammy on West’s 2004 “The College Dropout” and has worked as a music editor on many film projects, including “The King of Luck”, an unreleased documentary about Willie Nelson directed by pal and bandmate Thornton.
“To record Billy’s drums,” Andrew continues, “We set up on the drum stage with their adjustable-height drumbrella. We used mics from Shure, Coles, Neumann, and AKG, going through eight channels of UTA mic-pre’s. I loved the sound. I came home today and checked it out on my speakers to see what we got, and I was super happy. One of the cool things was that I never asked for anything to be changed. I just pushed up, armed the tracks and listened to them and went, ‘you know, this is great.’ Whatever they opened up sounded good.”
Barefoot’s hand built UTA console is one of only eight in the world. J.D. Andrew explains, “The console sounded real good and the EQ is overwhelming. There are four knobs in each band that you’re turning, and you get a completely different sound out of each little knob twist. It’s super powerful. You can really, really get a lot of sounds out of it, but at the core of it, that console is mean sounding; it’s tough, it’s big. At the same time though, it has tons of headroom and everything sounds clear and open.”
For Thornton’s vocals, the microphone was a Telefunken ELA M 251 through a Neve 1064 mic-pre and UTA’s UnFairchild 670M II compressor/limiter. “This is the first time I had a chance to use the UnFairchild,” says J.D. Andrew. “We put one of those on the lead vocal, and man, that thing sounds nice. It’s good at making something sit right in front of your face, but you can get a little out of hand with it, the amount of squish you try to make it do. We did just a nice little subtle job, which is what you really want to have when you’re tracking live.”
For the bass on the new Boxmasters tracks, a DI feed went through the UnderTone console EQ strip, while the mic on the Ampeg B15 amp went through the UTA MPEQ-1 mic-pre. “Barefoot has an Ampeg B15, the old mainstay of rock and roll. I’ve got one that I always haul around to record with, but this time I just used theirs, which sounded great. I just plugged in and there’s that sound.”
Learn more about The Boxmasters: https://theboxmasters.com/
About Barefoot Recording
Originally built as a post office in1950, Barefoot Recording was converted to Crystal Industries Recording Studio in 1967, where many top artists recorded, including Barbara Streisand, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix Supertramp, Jackson 5, War, The Doors, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Marvin Gaye, and The Byrds. In 2000, Eric Valentine took over ownership, making Studio A his private studio, while Studio B hosted producers like Jon Brion, Matt Radsovich, and Cian Riordan. In 2018, Valentine and studio manager Tim O’Sullivan, along with the staff, re-opened Barefoot in its full capacity to outside bookings. Barefoot Recording combines the tradition, service and professionalism of a spacious commercial studio with the vibe and creativity of a world-class producer’s private studio. For more info, visit: https://www.barefoot-recording.com
As co-owner of UnderToneAudio, Eric Valentine started the company to facilitate the building of a console that fit his workflow. The result was the UnderToneAudio desk. Following, came UTA’s UnFairchild 670M II 2-Channel compressor/limiter, the MPEQ-1 Class A discrete mic-pre, and the MPDI-4 four-channel mic-pre unit. Learn more at: http://www.undertoneaudio.com/