[one]It can be hard to set yourself apart in a world of barely-making-it bands. El Boxeo\’s sound allows them some distinction in a business where it is easy to blend in. But together they come, with expertly flowing harmonies and bizarre rifts and backgrounds. Some of their songs have lyrics and some don\’t, but the melodies speak for themselves on every record.
El Boxeo\’s music has made a name for itself on originality, and fans notice the oddity of their sound right away. \”It\’s just the combination of older, more rustic tones with the newer, more upbeat melody that\’s really unique and interesting,\” horticulture sophomore Carmen Tracey said. \”I think it\’s because they blend more modern sounds with guitar and drums, and violin and viola.\”
The slower beats and soft tunes of the instrumentals seem to appeal to their fans. When it\’s time to unwind and take a load off your day, El Boxeo\’s songs just might set the tone perfectly. \”You can just have it on; it\’s just good music to relax to and have on in the background,\” Tracey said.
El History-o
El Boxeo hails from Livonia, where they still practice in the basement of their parents\’ house. Their beginnings go back to 2001, although they didn\’t release their first self-titled EP until June 2003. \”We just have one proper album; we released two EPs before that, and released a Split 7\” with another band,\” bassist Zach Norton said.
The Split 7\” EP was done with Station Odyssey and released on Boyarm Records in May 2004, and they did another EP in March 2004, entitled Songs from an Unwritten Play About Giant Birds, independently released by the band.
The most current album is titled Awake & Dreaming, released in August 2006 on the increasingly-trendy Suburban Sprawl Music label, which also features collaborations with other bands and artists. The two instrumental tracks that stand out are Chopping Up Vampires and (Tri-Colored Tricycles) Floating In An Orange Sky, both of which can be heard on their MySpace page. Zach is responsible for the rifts and chords, his sister Lisa Norton does the melody, and Danny Sperry takes care of the background track.
Fab Collabs
\”I\’m responsible for the structure and the backbone, Lisa adds in the melody, and Danny always has good suggestions for new sounds and tricks,\” Zach Norton said. \”It\’s a really collaborative process.\” As collectively as they work within themselves, they don\’t just join forces with each other. Several bands they work closely with appeared on the Awake & Dreaming record, with local groups like The Pop Project and The Pizazz.[influence] \”It\’d be interesting to see what they could do with other artists\’ influence because they\’re so unique themselves,\” Tracey said about El Boxeo\’s collaboration with other bands.
Even though it can be expensive and time-consuming for El Boxeo, coming together as a unit to make their records is what they\’re all about. Each members\’ rifts are brought together to form one song. While some groups may have leaders, El Boxeo is the front man of its own project. \”We all just try to agree on what direction to take the album and what kind of sounds we want,\” drummer Sperry said.
When drawing inspiration, Sperry looks to bands like Modest Mouse. \”I listen to a lot of different music, but it\’s kind of strange because the kind of music I play isn\’t necessarily the kind of music I find myself listening to.\”
Regardless of where the band gets ideas, the buzz about their music trickles through fans and their friends. \”My friend went to the Metro Times Blowout,\” Tracey said. \”He heard them and bought their CD and made me listen to them, and I was just blown away by them.\”
Beats, Bucks and Books
Going on the road with the instruments can be tough and costly, but El Boxeo envelops the good and laughs off the bad when on tour. \”I had to move back with my parents for a year after spending essentially half a summer on tour,\” Sperry said. From the deserts of Arizona to Fifth Avenue in New York City, traveling brings joy and stress to the job. \”It\’s fun but it was terrible, because we had the classic van-breaking-down and being stranded out in the middle of Arizona,\” Zach Norton said.
\”We got stuck with our trailer, and eventually we had to take all the equipment out of the trailer and walk it down a snowy hill,\” Sperry said of an episode that occurred a few years back. \”It just totally reminded me of like, a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-type situation.\”
El Boxeo is looking to do some small tours during the summer of 2007, and they have a show lined up at Mac\’s Bar on May 18. When the band isn\’t performing or recording, they\’re learning and working. \”Zach and I are both in school full-time, both play in two bands, and we both work,\” Sperry said. \”Most of our spare time goes to the band.\”
Violinist Lisa Norton also works on the side, taking business classes, doing public relations work for a non-profit organization, and volunteering for the Michigan Humane Society. Sperry and Zach Norton attend Wayne State University as full-time students, with Sperry majoring in art and Norton focusing on public relations. Both play in another local band called Child Bite, which is also on the Suburban Sprawl Music label.
Since all the members go to school while playing with their bands, they\’re perfect role models for up-and-coming college groups. Balancing jobs, school and two bands can become stressful, but El Boxeo proves it can be done.
\”You all have to be on the same page as far as how much time you want to commit,\” Sperry said. \”You just have to make sacrifices. Either be devoted or don\’t waste your time.\”

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