Sat., March 16, 10pm, Holy Mountain Backyard
Paul Waclawsky has a love affair with space. “It goes back to the original Star Wars trilogy,” he admits. “It just really affected me. Space sounds like a synthesizer.”
Waclawsky’s maintained the Boxing Lesson since 2002, when he was still living in Los Angeles. Relocated to Austin nearly a decade ago, he’s shifted through several different lineups, April’s Big Hits being the first album from his latest trio: Lacy, synth warrior Jaylinn Davidson, and 14-year-old drummer, Ben Redman.
Yes, 14. After previous drummer Jake Mitchell was sentenced to five years for conspiring to manufacture marijuana, auditions were held, and Redman stood out.
“We have such synergy together, which is unlikely considering he’s a kid,” says Waclawsky.
“I’m pretty tired of talking about my age,” sighs Redman, also the beat keeper for local grunge trio Residual Kid. “I don’t want to be the little kid on the drums anymore.”
“He tried out against other grown ass men,” injects Davidson. “We didn’t hold it against him that he was 14, and we didn’t choose him because he was 14.”
Waclawsky’s old-school, claiming “Indie Rock Is Dead” a few albums ago. Big Hits has been in the works for several years with producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith. He writes music that pays attention to archaic rules: guitar solos, what makes sense on side A and side B. We joke about putting a sticker on the new album that simply reads: “Don’t listen on shuffle.”
“We wanted to do the Bowie Low thing, where one side is all rockers and the other side was all slow stuff,” explains Waclawsky. “Instead, we put the two long epics on either end and filled the middle with more rock-y, punk-y stuff.”
Is there a conceptual framework? Some grand universe-arching narrative in the liner notes? Not really. Running time shakes out to 47:47, but that’s just a happy accident. If there’s any saga to his music (and his worldview), Waclawsky says it’s simply possibilities.
“The first two songs are called ‘Endless Possibilities’ and ‘Eastside Possibilities,'” he points out. “We want to take it from outer space and bring it back to East Austin, where they’re sipping on the sidewalk.”
The Boxing Lesson constructs scorching, Seventies-imbued psych/prog/space rock in an era where it couldn’t be less in vogue. “It’s genuine goofiness,” laughs Waclawsky. – Luke Winkie
This article appeared in the print edition with the headline: 2,000 Light Years From Home.