Interview by Scott Preston
From the village of Makanda in extreme southern Illinois, in a little hollow called Vulture Valley, comes a “caustic acoustic cacophony” known as the Woodbox Gang. They have skillfully combined the roots music styles of Americana, bluegrass, delta blues, outlaw country, & rockabilly with the aggressive delivery of punk rock to create their own style of music to which they have given the name “Trashcan Americana”. The band is known for their dark poetic lyrics and their use of various conventional and non-conventional instrumentation to create sonic landscapes specifically tailored to the mood and theme of each composition. The songwriting team of Hugh DeNeal and Alex Kirt have lead the Woodbox Gang through many musical transformations, while remaining true to their one of a kind sound. The group has performed nationwide since the year 2000. Highlights include performances at the JFK Center for Performing Arts, Wakarusa, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Appalachain Uprising, and countless festivals, theaters, and other venues across the country.
Cincy Groove: How long has The Woodbox Gang been together?
Alex Kirt: Well we started out in March of 2000, so just about 8 years.
Cincy Groove: Who are some of your influences?
Alex Kirt: I think we are all big Tom Waits fans. I know our lyricist is a big fan of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan. We also like The Ramones, Black Sabbath. We are all over the place with what we like to listen to.
Cincy Groove: I could tell just by listening to a few of your songs that you combine many different styles of music in your songs.
Alex Kirt: We don’t consider ourselves a bluegrass band at all. I have seen a few bands that are doing something in a similar vein. But there hasn’t been a Bill Monroe yet to show everybody how to do it. Until that day comes when everybody starts copying somebody, it will just be every band doing there own thing.
Cincy Groove: What do you guys like to do when your not playing music?
Alex Kirt: Some of the guys in the band are video game players. I’m kind of a workaholic, I don’t do much else beside music. I like to go fishing whenever I get a chance. But last year I only got my boat out of the garage once last year because we were playing so much.
Cincy Groove: Whats one of the strangest things that has happen to the band at a show?
Alex Kirt: We were out in Driegs, Idaho playing this bluegrass show with Tony Triska, Mike Marshall. There were all kinds of legendary bluegrass guys there. We were playing for this big crowd of people and after the show this lady came up to us and told us how much she liked the show. She told us she was from Carbondale, IL also. She looked really familiar to us, so we asked her where would we know her from? Because our town isn’t very big so when people are out you know them. We recognized her because she played Jackie on The Roseanne Show.
Cincy Groove: So tell me about the soundtrack the band did.
Alex Kirt: It was a soundtrack for a documentary film about this guy Charlie Birger. He was a whiskey, boot legging, gangster in southern Illinois. He was kind of like the Al Capone of southern Illinois. I guess he was kind of like a hillbilly version. He sold whiskey, I think he had a whore house. But I think the Clan was real tight with the church in the area at that time, around the 1920’s. So the church hired this guy S. Glenn Young, to come and fight Birgers gang. Because I guess the church thought that it wasn’t good Christian values to be selling whiskey.
Cincy Groove: So do you guys have plans for a new cd?
Alex Kirt: Yeah actually, we are recording a cd right now. I was setting up a microphone to record a banjo track when you called. Its going to be released on Alternative Tentacles record label. Its a label which was founded by the original legendary frontman of the Dead Kennedy’s, Mr. Jello Biafra. They actually have a few bands that are very similar to us.
DRUNK AS DRAGONS “Fortified Edition” to be released
on Alternative Tentacles in JUNE 2008!
For our first official label release, we’ve completely remixed and remastered Drunk As Dragons, PLUS we’ve added 8 Bonus Tracks, which are brand new & updated recordings of the best loved WBG classics, including fan favorites such as “Devil’s Got Dibs On Me”, “Termite Song”, “I Roll My Own”, and the sing-a-long crowd pleaser “Family Night”.
The Woodbox Gang is:
Hugh DeNeal-Vocals, acoustic guitar
Alex Kirt-Vocals, mandolin, washboard, suitcase drum, banjo, slide guitar, harmonica, kazoo, didgeridoo, musical saw
Ratliff Dean Thiebaud-Vocals, Guitar
Dan Goett- Vocals, Banjo, Mandolin, Dobro, slide guitar
Greg Edwards-Bass, baritone horn
Upcoming Woodbox Gang tour dates:
for complete show details visit – http://woodboxgang.homestead.com
May 2, Bent River Brewery, Moline, IL
May 3, House Of Blues, Chicago, IL
May 4, Mahoney’s, Cedar Rapids, IA
May 9, Hangar 9, Carbondale, IL
May 16, Midtown Music Hall, Chattanooga, TN
May 17, Private Event, DeSoto, IL
May 23, Mousetrap, Indianapolis, IN
May 24, Hookahville, Legend Valley, Thornville, OH
May 25, Sherman Spring Barndance, Sherman, NY
May 26, Private Event, Sherman, NY
May 27, Bocktown Beer and Grill, Pittsburgh, PA
May 30, NV Ultra Lounge, Normal, IL
May 31, Bently’s, Fishers, Indiana – SHOW POSTPONED TO A LATER DATE.
June 7, Crusen’s, Peoria, IL
June 13, Hangar 9, Carbondale, IL
June 14, Private Event, Pomona, IL
June 18, Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO
June 21, Quixotes, Denver, CO
June 28, Groovefest American Music Festival, Cedar City, UT
June 29, Groovefest American Music Festival, Cedar City, UT
June 30, Mystic Hot Springs, Utah
July 3, JJs Bar, Laramie, WY
July 4, Party at Robert’s Ranch, Virginia Dale, CO
July 5, Mahogany Ridge, Steamboat Springs, CO
July 18, Cicero’s, St Louis, MO
July 19, Hangar 9, Carbondale, IL
Aug 16, Hangar 9, Carbondale, IL
Aug 22, TBA
Aug 23, River Roots Live Festival, Davenport, IA
Aug 31, Bocktown Beer and Grill, Pittsburgh, PA
Sept 19, TBA
Sept 20, Hangar 9, Carbondale, IL
Oct 4, Private Event, Eureka, MO
Oct 18, Vulturefest, Makanda, IL