Today’s Feature: April 1-2, 2007: Black Box Warning

January 17, 2008 at 11:01 pm (Today's Feature)

Black Box Warning Black Box Warning arrived onto the DC music scene in 2005 with one goal…World domination! Before that however, they are settling for sold out shows in every club they play. had a chance to sit down and chat with the boys of Black Box Warning for their XXQs, to hear all about their take on today’s pop/rock music, their personal influences, plans for the band and oh yeah, world domination.

XXQs: Black Box Warning

PensEyeView (PEV) How long have you guys been playing together and how did you start?

Black Box Warning (BBW): The band has been together for 1 1/2 years. Each one of us had been playing in popular local bands but felt like something was missing. We still hadn’t found that perfect sound. Through networking, the internet, and dumb luck, we left our respective bands and happen to find one another.

PEV: People always want to know the meaning behind a band’s name. You recently changed your name from Pinch Weasel to Black Box Warning, why?

BBW: Coming up with a band name is not that easy. It’s even harder considering most of us barely made it through grade school. After tossing out such great names as “Astronaut Love Triangle” and “Half Past Nine”, we realized that we all had major headaches. We immediately did what anyone would naturally do in the same situation…we turned to the bottle…in this case, a bottle of Valium. In minutes our headaches were gone, but unfortunately our bassist, Tom, became violently ill and broke out in a rash. As he later confessed, Tom was always a highly allergic young boy. Not knowing what to do, we checked the label on the bottle, and then it all became clear….Black Box Warning. This was great for the band, but unfortunately not for Tom, as he spent the next 12 hours in the emergency room.

PEV: What comes first, a catchy line and then match to music or vise verse?

BBW: Well, first comes love then marriage, and then, only then, is our music created. In most situations, I’ll have an idea for a song, but no lyrics are written. These ideas keep circulating in the back of my head. They are brought to life once the music is written. The great thing about this band is that we are constantly writing songs and creating new ideas. In fact, we often get side tracked during practices because one of us will throw out a catchy new riff or idea. From there, the music is written. Depending on the feel of the song, the ideas for the lyrics resurface and are worked into a song.

PEV: What do you do when you come to a “brick wall” when writing?

BBW: We scale it. Actually, we haven’t encountered many brick walls so far. When we do hit the occasional snag, we usually just steal the ideas from someone else. Either that or we listen to bad 80’s metal hair-bands…somehow our stuff doesn’t seem that bad in comparison.

PEV: What inspires a good song?

BBW: Hardship…the worse the experience, the better the song. When your girlfriend cheats on you with your brother, there’s a good song. When it is with your sister, great song!

PEV: What is an average show day like for Black Box Warning?

BBW: There is never just an average show day for this band. We all love to play out live. We love to give the crowd a great show. The only people you will find not dancing or having a great time are those in the bar next to the one where we are playing.

PEV: Any crazy road stories?

BBW: What happens on the road, stays on the road.

PEV: What or where is your favorite place to play?

BBW: We loved playing a local place for us, called the Recher Theater, not only because it’s a great venue, but they had free beer and food backstage. All other back stages we’ve encountered usually consist of a non-working toilet and a few folding chairs…and we never get the bowl of red M&M’s we request. We also love playing outdoor festivals. We’ve played these festivals in both Baltimore and DC. The sound is great, the crowds are large, and the money is non-existent. These are great shows.

PEV: What bands or musicians influenced you?

BBW: We love listening to all bands and all music from all decades…is that politically correct enough? In reality, we try to make fun music, catchy music, the type of music that makes you want to turn up the volume when you’re driving in your car with the windows down. We like bands like Green Day, Blink 182, Cartel, The Starting Line, and Simple Plan. In his day, Mozart was praised for his creation of music that was brilliantly simple. We are in many ways just like Mozart.

PEV: What is the best part about playing live?

BBW: It is much better than playing dead. Actually, we all love playing live. With all of our busy schedules, playing out live is always our top priority. Nothing beats the emotion of the crowd, the uncertainty of the performance, and the drink specials.

PEV: Ok, counter that, what’s the worst part?

BBW: Stage diving…we lost many a good musician on failed attempts. Also, when playing out live, the volumes are louder, the crowd makes noise, and it can often times be difficult to make sure all levels are perfect and everyone is heard equally. There is a definite art to achieving that perfect live sound….and thank God we all got straight A’s in art.

PEV: How did it feel the first time you stepped into a studio to record your own music?

BBW: We felt relieved…of most of our money that is. Although we had some idea of the costs, it certainly broke the band budget. In one sense, the recording studio is an ideal way to manufacture that perfect sound. It only took us 500 takes, but on take number 501, we nailed it.

PEV: If you had the chance to collaborate with anyone, living or passed, who would it be? Why?

BBW: Keith Richards naturally…because he’s a little bit of both. I think some amazing song writers include Chris Martin, Tom Yorke, Bono from U2, and of course the greatest songwriter of our generation, Dennis DeYoung from Styx.

PEV: What can we find the band doing on days when they are not practicing or playing shows?

BBW: Unfortunately for now we all have day jobs, outside of music, anywhere from a doctor to a restaurant manager. That takes up a lot of our time. Besides that we like to watch girls who ride horses!

PEV: Finish this sentence, “My most embarrassing live experience was….”

BBW: When the rest of the band forgot to show up.

PEV: In your opinion, who is the greatest song writer today?

BBW: It’s hard to answer questions like that. Perhaps the greatest songwriters are those who have yet to be discovered. Each song holds a different meaning to each person. The greatest song will be the one that touches you the most. This is in direct contrast to the greatest relative, who you hope touches you the least.

PEV: You get to play on Saturday Night Live, who is your “dream” host?

BBW: Jack Nicholson…I mean come on, it’s Jack.

PEV: Downloading music for free has become a heated debate. What is your take on the whole issue of downloading music for free?

BBW: We’re all for it, and to show our support, we do it every day.

PEV: Black Box Warning is Washington, DC based, what is the best or most unique thing about the DC music scene?

BBW: The mysterious puddles outside of clubs, the constant kidnapping of band members by The Others, and of course the fans. DC fans are intelligent, cultured, and very dedicated to live music. And despite all of that, they keep coming to our shows and we love them for it!

PEV: So, what’s next for Black Box Warning?

BBW: World domination…or a national tour


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