Local band Box Elder makes a splash at Treefort

Frontman Chris Archuleta discusses the Jackson music scene, the value of exposure and the inspiration the band draws from Wyoming.
Jackson-based band Box Elder backstage after their show at The Shredder during this year's Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho. From left to right: Ian Tompkins, Wil Zeigler, Claire H, Chris Archuleta and Oscar Garcia-Perez. (Jack Catlin/KHOL)

Box Elder, an alternative rock band based in Jackson Hole, recently completed a run of shows at this year’s Treefort Music Festival in Boise, Idaho. The five-piece band’s music is filled with heartbreak, tension and thrilling punk energy.

Since their debut EP in 2021, “These Distractions are Constant,” Box Elder has performed in and around Jackson, released a second EP, “Minimums, last year. The band is now working on new music, while currently on tour throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Box Elder made its music festival debut during the Wyoming Showcase put on by Wyoming Arts Council at Treefort Music Festival, and I was able to catch up with frontman and founder Chris Archuleta after their show at punk venue The Shredder. 

The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. This conversation was recorded on Friday, March 24.

JACK CATLIN/KHOL: In your opinion, what’s the current temperature of the Jackson music scene right now and how do you guys fit into it? Is there potential for another indie punk rock band to come up through the ranks?

CHRIS ARCHULETA: Absolutely. We need friends! I think that people are going to listen to what they love. But people can come to our shows here at Treefort and you know, last night at the Wyoming Showcase, we certainly didn’t fit the dynamic of the room, but people were there to see us, which is so cool. Music is music. I don’t really know too many people that are just like, ‘Oh, yeah, I just don’t like music. Live music, like, really bums me out.’ That’s like, just not a thing, you know? So I would love to be in Jackson and able to cultivate a scene where there are a lot more [unified] bonds between the bluegrass bands or the other alt-country and stuff like that. We’ll absolutely play those shows. I would love to play those shows because it is that blending of genres, but also it builds a bigger community for all of the bands.

KHOL: How important is it to represent not only Jackson, but Wyoming in general? And what is that journey been like being from such a small market town and aiming really high?

ARCHULETA: I appreciate that so much. It’s something I did not envision. Let’s put it that way. When Box Elder started, it was my solo project. I just wanted to make songs for myself, and people started listening to them and they love them, which I mean, I’m still flabbergasted by that. [It] just doesn’t make sense to me. Box Elder has played in Salt Lake a couple of times, and we actually were the only band non-Salt Lake City-based band that got asked to play at a music festival in Salt Lake last year. Music is so easily transferable.

And the thing [with] being from Wyoming is, yes, it’s absolutely a small market. No, it’s not necessarily the biggest punk rock or indie rock hub in the world, but from what I’ve seen at our own shows, it’s needed. People want it. I love where I’m from. It’s molded every single one of us into being the musicians that we are. It’s so inspirational to be able to look out my front door and see the things that I see. And it really has molded my creativity into being able to be a stronger songwriter where if I’m struggling on a lyric, I can get my dog and go for a hike. And by the end of the hike, I probably am not just struggling with the lyric any longer, but I’ll walk back out, get in my car with a verse and a chorus.

It’s really inspirational being from where we are from. With the increase in housing difficulties and the cost of living and everything, Jackson Hole is not forever, but for right now, Wyoming has made this band what it is realistically. And nature provided so much inspiration for everything that I’ve done. My bandmates feel the exact same way. We love being from Wyoming and just being able to experience that all together, and it’s a beautiful thing. 

Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Chris Archuleta from Box Elder.

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About Jack Catlin

Jack is KHOL's music director. He says all music is in some way connected no matter the style and his mission is to provide listeners with a unique and memorable experience each time they tune in to KHOL or see him DJ live.

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