After making a splash with their debut EP, “These Distractions Are Constant,” the Jackson Hole-based quartet Box Elder is set to release a follow-up EP on Friday, June 10.
“Minimums” is a roller coaster of emotions and power chords dealing with self-doubt, lost love and life’s occasional lack of meaning.
In advance of the release of Box Elder’s new EP and a record release party at The Mangy Moose on Saturday, June 11, guitarist and lead singer Chris Archuletta joined KHOL Music and Community Affairs Director Jack Catlin to chat and preview the new music in the KHOL studios.
The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. This conversation was recorded on Tuesday, June 7.
JACK CATLIN/KHOL: So, for the new EP, “Minimums,” you’ve been quoted as saying, ‘It’s the most comfort I’ve ever found in my own music, and the most driven I’ve ever been to pick up my guitar.’ Powerful words. Can you expand on that journey from making that first EP on your own versus making this new one with a full band?
CHRIS ARCHULETTA: The first EP was very much like me wanting to explore new avenues. I bought a synth and did all the drum tracking. I took advantage of having COVID to learn new things and experiment and find what I wanted to be doing just to put out music. Until Oscar joined the band, I did not want to be touring or playing shows or anything like that. I just wanted to be putting out music. And then when Oscar came into it, it added that flavor of like, ‘Oh, well, I used to be in punk rock bands. This is like still kind of punky. So, I’m going to start looking at this as let’s start touring, let’s play shows and do the thing.’ So, with that, it just kind of was going back to my roots a little bit.
I was always really involved in the DIY culture and playing shows in punk rock bands, and I used to have a venue in the basement of my old house. So, it was kind of like getting back to that and getting acquainted again with an old friend. The journey has been amazing, but even with the current EP coming out, the songs aren’t easy to play, like the first EP, where I wanted to focus on writing and playing synth and just doing all these different things. Whereas now I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m back in the driver’s seat of being a frontman and playing guitar and it’s not rhythm guitar. I’m playing lead and doing vocals, so I have no days off.’ Like if I don’t play guitar every day, it’s noticeable. I have to practice every single day and learn new techniques and things like that that will bring out different flavors in addition to what we already have. I’m really driven to play just as much as possible. And music, I think at this point, especially with the [record label] signing and everything else I have going on, it’s never really meant more to me than it does now.
KHOL: And can you tell us about the overall concept of the new EP, “Minimums?” What was the concept, or was there one before you started recording and producing all of it?
ARCHULETTA: Not really like a grandiose theme behind anything, by any means. When Oscar joined the band I already had a song sitting in the back, which is a song called “Bug.” “Bug” was already sitting in the back seat, where it’s like I had lyrics, I had the guitar part, and then “Minimums” was the song that I had a theme about. I feel like all the songs that I’ve written up to this point are kind of darker or they’re a little more like, in my emotions, kind of depressing. Let’s be real. So, “Minimums” is very much a song where when it came to me, the song is literally about experiencing the day that you have in front of you instead of developing all of these connections with physical things like you look at, you know, the people that have giant TVs and the new car and this thing and that thing, and those are sometimes the people that are just, like, so empty. I definitely was one of them for a long time, where I was worried about my credit score and worried about like, ‘Oh, well, I’m 30, I should probably own a house.’ I just want to be in the back of my car with my dog and camping. I want to just do things and experience life for what it is, because I’ve missed out on that for so much of my life. That’s what “Minimums” is about. And it really set the tone for the rest of the album for sure.
Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Chris Archuletta from Box Elder.
This coverage is funded in part with an Arts For All grant provided by the Town of Jackson and Teton County.