This past weekend in Austin was the first ever Waterloo Music Festival, a new festival that blends funky grooves and jam bands across 3 days at the well known Carson Creek Ranch in Austin, TX. This was the first of its kind for Austin, but the lineup and turnout were great despite some rainy weather over the weekend.
After three straight nights of the String Cheese Incident Waterloo picked the perfect vibe to close out the festival Sunday with BoomBox. Their show had the entire crowd grooving from the start as they rocked the amphitheater stage. With a history of no set lists and live improvisation, every BoomBox show is exciting and unique. It’s common for them to pick a song to start the grooviness and allow the crowd to help them decide which direction to go. They feed off of the energy of the crowd and adapt their show to meet the energy of the fans.
Zion leads the way with his groovy guitar riffs and soothing vocals while DJ Harry feeds off the crowd to help adapt the show to the audience. Their deep passion and roots in house music leads the way for their unique sound that they blend across many other genres. Once BoomBox has you in their groove, they are incredible at keeping you there all night. It can take some time after their set is over to truly appreciate their ability to improvise and engage the crowd. One thing is for sure – it’s impossible not to dance at a BoomBox show.
BoomBox has been moving feet on the dance floor since 2005 when they first released Visions of Backbeat with songs like ‘Stereo’ and ‘Midnight on the Run’ that immediately resonated with music fans. Over 10 years later and they are still creating new music, touring, and moving dance floors across the country. Earlier this summer they dropped a new single Selling Fun that is leading into their upcoming album Western Voodoo.
We were grateful to sit down with Zion and DJ Harry for a few minutes before their set at Waterloo to talk about their career, their new music, and how they are able to continually create new music over a decade that continues to keep people moving and dancing every night. The short answer – “It always goes back to the grooves.”
Check out the interview below followed by a video of their live performance at Waterloo Fest in Austin!
Boombox has been around making unique music for 10+ years. Can you tell us a little bit about how your sound involved and your early musical influences?
Zion: Well I naturally grew up a Dead head with my parents, (parents names and positions here), but I was exposed to all kinds of Rock n Roll. Then I started playing guitar and my friends and I were making some Reggae music and stuff. I had interest in a lot of different things though. It all really changed though after a friend of mine got me into the rave scene in the bay area. The atmosphere and the energy there was incredible. It was so groovy and almost hypnotic, and it really changed how I was making music.
JamFeed: Was this more house focused music at these raves?
Zion: Ya absolutely. It was in these underground warehouses, but it really made me start to think of how to incorporate this house beat and energy while blending it with other genres and music I was into. I knew there was something there, but it was just about figuring out how to infuse the different sounds together.
JamFeed: Amazing. Let’s fast forward a bit to today, can you tell us how you guys got connected?
Harry: Well we had been going to the same raves in the bay area, and we would end up playing similar events and shows (touring with another band at the time). I was already a big fan of Boombox and knew a lot of their songs, so a few years ago when a friend of mine told me that Zion had a spot open, it was just a great fit. We both shared the same passion for groovy house music and taking that energy into other lanes and exposing it to different genres and people.
But Zion is the real creative genius behind the music of Boombox. He’s the one writing the songs and I am here to help fill in the gaps and help on the live set. We both have been playing and making similar music for a long time, and when we got together it was just a great fit. We really like to improvise and change directions based on the energy that night.
Zion: Ya, we never have used set lists with Boombox. It’s always been about playing to the crowds energy each night.
JamFeed: It sounds like that approach will also create a unique show each night for your fans because it is very improvised and different each time.
Zion: Absolutely and it keeps things more fun for us to really be able to play to the crowd and the energy wherever we go.
Harry: I think its what really makes Boombox unique is that its fresh and new each time we play. The crowd doesn’t know what to expect because we don’t always know where the crowd is going to take us.
JamFeed: So I know you guys have a new single out called “Selling Fun” – when did this song drop?
Zion: We put that out this summer 2018.
JamFeed: It’s definitely a groovy summer jam. Is this song leading to an album release this year?
Zion: Ya we have an album ‘Western Voodoo’ coming out later this year.
JamFeed: How many songs are on the album?
Zion: 10 songs.
JamFeed: How long has it been since you released your last album?
Zion: The last one I think was 2016. That was ‘Bits & Pieces’
JamFeed: And you guys are now starting to gear up for a tour following the album?
Zion: Ya that will probably be more towards the beginning of next year after the album has come out.
Harry: Ya but we played Red Rocks earlier this year with The Motet and The New Mastersounds which was incredible.
Zion: Ya that show was a lot of fun.
JamFeed: Wow I bet that was amazing. Red Rocks is unbelievable, and so are all those bands. Every show I have seen there has been amazing. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to play a show there.
Zion: It’s really an amazing place to play.
JamFeed: How would you describe your creative process in making your music? Do you start with a beat and build from there? Or does it differentiate between each song?
Zion: Lots of times it starts with a beat, but often times I’ll have a melody in my head, and when I can’t get it out of my head, that’s when I usually start to write cause I know I am onto something. It always gets back to the groove though. That’s the heartbeat of what we do.