We chat with Boy In A Box
Boy in a Box have quite the serendipitous origin story. After deciding to quit performing, Tobias “TJ” Priddle had a job building a recording studio when his boss asked if he had any songs floating around for a cancer campaign. As luck would have it, he’d just written something the night before. His boss loved it, and Boy in a Box was born.
It was a strange turn of events, as Priddle tells it. “When I wrote that song, I was aiming to put together a portfolio, to write music for other people.” He’d played music for five years in Sydney, but it was only after taking a break and moving down to Melbourne that everything started happening. “I was back into it without even knowing what was going on,” he relates. “The ball started rolling, and I just held on and hoped for the best.”
And how has priddle found the move to Melbourne? : “You can blindfold yourself, walk a block, and find somewhere with good coffee and food.”
He’s also recently taken the Melbournian step of tweeting his ever move, despite admitting he’s “completely hopeless” at it. Most bands do some form of social networking, and Priddle likes the idea of connecting with people and fans on a personal level. “When I was younger, I would’ve loved to be able to talk to some of my favourite Australian bands, even though they weren’t that big, just to say hello.”
As for the other members of Boy in a Box, they joined at different stages. Bassist Athan Hewitt was a long-time friend from Sydney. “We actually used to play in band comps together when were in school, and we just became friends from then,” Priddle remembers. “When I was looking for a bass player, I just gave him a call one day and said, ‘Hey, wanna move to Melbourne?’ and he was like, ‘I guess so!’” Thomas Crimmins, their drummer, was a session drummer for a studio now called Red Door.
Despite being a solid rock trio, they may not be a three-piece much longer: “We’re in the process of trying out a fourth member right now.” Because Priddle started alone, he often had different musicians accompanying him at shows. “It just took me this long to get a good, solid band to play with.”
Not to cast aspersions on Crimmins or Hewitt’s musicianship, but Priddle says he needs “musicians who aren’t that good at playing, and understand the simplicity a bit more.” He continues,, “my songs are super, super simple. There’s nothing technical at all,” Priddle confesses.
Compared to his last band, which played “intelligent rock songs,” Boy in a Box plays music that is as simple as possible, something picked up from listening to 70s punk bands. “There are three chords that make the song, and then it’s all about melody and it’s all about passion and energy,” Priddle says. “So I want to keep it about the song more than the guitarist playing and the bass solo and the drums.”
Boy in a Box recently signed to the brand new record label Four | Four, an imprint of ABC Music. Before that, they were signed to Warner, who they “really, really loved,” but the huge label already has an overabundance of acts and Priddle’s self-described band of “three little guys from Melbourne” weren’t always priority.
“You want all the attention on you!” says Priddle. “Being on a new label with not many bands, you feel more nurtured and you have that family kind of vibe.”
The boys recently opened for fun.’s Splendour in the Grass sideshow in Melbourne, which made for an interesting experience. “I didn’t expect what I heard, says Priddle. “I saw photos and thought they’d be Folds-y and upbeat, but then I heard this hip hop production over Queen pop, and I was like, ‘great!’”
Looking to the future, they’re co-headlining a tour with fellow Melburnians Kingswood. As young rock bands that both draw similar crowds, their managers saw fit to organise the Split Ends tour, which will see them play across Australia later this year.
The shows, which have been promoted as a dueling match between both headliners bring to mind Scott Pilgrim-esque battling bands, which Priddle quite likes the sound of.
“It could be like that. We’re doing a split headliner, so one of us will be headlining the night each night. It’ll be like we’re fighting for that place.” Obviously a fan of monster movies, he adds that “it was just one of those things we thought would be cool, kind of making it like one of those Godzilla vs. Giant Squid deals.”
As to who is who, “I always feel like a bit of an underdog…we’d be the Giant Squid.”
As to the far future, Boy in a Box will likely head on over to America or the UK to see who will take them in and listen to them. . “Probably in the next couple of years we’ll try get over to do South by South West and that kind of stuff,” says Priddle. It’s not because they don’t like their home, “but Australia’s such a small place. I’d love to get out and see how we do abroad,” he enthuses.
Boy In A Box hit the road with Kingswood for the Split Ends Tour in August. Full dates and details here.