For a town overrun with Jack Johnson and Bob Marley wannabes, the music of Boombox Orchestra comes to Isla Vista as a much-needed breath of fresh air. These self-described masters of funk blend addicting beats, mind bending guitar riffs and a smooth sax line, making for a sound that is refreshingly new and fun. Boombox Orchestra is made up of saxophonist George Buolos, bassist Shaun Herron (aka Shamus Beerwhiskey), guitarist Pete Cerenzio, keyboardist Bobby Bliss and drummer Jason James. Artsweek was able to sit in and chat with the band during one of its rehearsals before the band’s Extravaganza debut.
Artsweek: What are your aspirations as a band?
Herron: First off, we have pussy-making aspirations.
Buolos: I don’t have aspirations. That shit’s happening. We’ve already reached that level.
Cerenzio: In rock ‘n’ roll, first you get the money. Then you get the pussy. Then you get the power.
Herron: Our quote on our MySpace is “Trust us to get funky with your daughters.”
Artsweek: Speaking of daughters, do you have any crazy groupie stories?
Bliss: One time, this groupie after the show was really drunk, so I was trying to control her and she ends up punching our singer in the face. He bled out of his ears. So to alleviate the situation, I walked her home. (The rest of the band laughs.)
Cerenzio, Buolos and Herron: No, no, no.
Buolos: Walked is in quotes. He took her home with the car keys for our truck that we use to move all the shit, and our lead singer was so pissed off that this chick just punched him in the face and Bobby didn’t do anything but take her home.
Herron: Another time a groupie made Pete [Cerenzio] do her doggy style while he played a guitar solo.
Buolos: That’s the power of Boombox.
Artsweek: Your lead singer [who would rap over their music] is no longer with the band. What’s the story behind that?
Buolos: He went up north to work for the American Cancer Society. But like Shaun [Herron] said, we were never really making hip hop music. We loved Pat [Male], he was great, but we were always trying to make an eclectic cornerstone to our sound. Funk, rock, blues – I don’t want anyone to give us a genre. We definitely want to keep it funky, because we want to keep people dancing.
Artsweek: On your MySpace, you describe your sound as that of “the beating wings of an immortal hummingbird flying through a war in heaven.” Can you elaborate?
Buolos: We make our music very, very eclectic and funky. We’ve had harp, trumpet, sitar.
Herron: We have a fiddle player now too.
Buolos: If any singer or rapper out there wants to come and get funky with us, our door is always open. It keeps us sounding fresh.
Artsweek: By winning UCSB’s Battle of the Bands this year, you won the opportunity to open for the headlining act at Extravaganza. What can we expect?
Buolos: We’re known to throw a party onstage, but this is going to be a spectacle.
Bliss: It’s just very much like, “How can we get people as entertained as possible?” Our music is the main tool, but there’s everything that goes along with it. For the last Earth Day show, I was painted completely purple. I forgot to shave; I didn’t know you had to go centimeter by centimeter and pull your hair out [afterward] because [the paint] was stuck to your hair. That was the most painful experience of my life. But I found out this time, that if you take a lighter fluid shower, it’ll come off.
Buolos: Bobby [Bliss] is crazy… We’re going all out with a multi-faceted show that’s going to entail flavors from everywhere in the I.V. performing arts community.
Artsweek: Does your band try to convey any message in your songs?
Bliss: Get funky with it.
Cerenzio: It’s more of an attitude.
Buolos: Have a good time, keeping it real.