How many Billy Bob Thornton films can you name, off the top of your head? You might reel off Sling Blade, Bad Santa, Armageddon, Pushing Tin, Monster’s Ball, A Simple Plan.
Now, how many Billy Bob Thornton albums can you name, whether as a solo artist or as a member of his country-pop band The Boxmasters?
Not so easy, right? Nevertheless, as his breathtakingly petulant recent performance on Canada’s CBC Radio One illustrates, when Billy Bob Thornton is promoting his little-heard of band he’d rather you pretend you’ve never seen any of his blockbuster movies. Even the Oscar-nominated ones where he bangs Halle Berry or plays a mumbling, mentally-deficient, murdering mentalist.
With The Boxmasters having been picked as support for Willie Nelson‘s Canadian tour, the band were invited into CBC Radio One’s studios to appear on a show called Q, hosted by Jian Ghomeshi. Ghomeshi’s introduction to his chinwag with the band included a reference to Billy Bob Thornton’s other, very well-known career as an actor, and that’s when the trouble started.
Billy Bob was so enraged by the host’s reference to that job he’s really quite famous for doing that he spent the next ten minutes or so acting like a teenager at a dinner table being forced to answer questions about his homework. In front of his new girlfriend. To whom his mother is showing photos of him naked in the bath as a toddler.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he replied when asked how long the band had been going, necessitating one of his clearly mortified bandmates to verbalise the tricky answer of “about two years.”
Billy Bob then proceeded to answer a question about his musical influences with a rambling non sequitur of a response about a magazine he read as a boy called Famous Monsters Of Filmland. If he wasn’t speaking in his normal tone of voice you could swear he was doing an impression of his character from Sling Blade. It’s actually quite funny if you can somehow ignore a) the suffocating tension in the studio, and b) the sound of Billy Bob’s bandmates chewing their knuckles to the bone as they witness their singer do his best to destroy their careers.
Have you ever been in a relationship – whether romantic or otherwise, at home or at work – from which you desperately wanted to escape, but you didn’t have the balls or the wherewithal to make the break? And instead, you made every conversation an assault course of passive-aggression, answered every question with an arse-clenchingly obtuse response, and intentionally misunderstood every innocent enquiry?
No, me neither. But if you had, you might recognise Billy Bob Thornton’s performance as a veritable masterclass in the art of sullen, obstructive pissyism.
When it became apparent why Billy Bob Thornton was unhappy with Jian Ghomeshi, and Ghomeshi stuttered reasonably that he was just attempting to give the interview ‘context’, the ridiculously-bearded diva explained that producers on the show had been ‘instructed’ not to make reference to his film career, and that these ‘instructions’ should have been passed on. Oh, and he also insulted Candian concertgoers, describing them as being like “mashed potatoes with no gravy, you know what I’m sayin’?” Oh, and then he refused to get up and sing with his band, leaving them to do an instrumental version of the song they’d agreed to perform.
Of course what Billy Bob Thornton fails to have grasped is that without his Hollywood stardom the radio station – and indeed Willie Nelson – probably wouldn’t give a hootenanny about his band. And if they did, the non-film star lead singer certainly wouldn’t be allowed to waltz into an interview and ‘instruct’ producers not to mention his other job as a car mechanic, or a Superdrug checkout girl, or a bull semen collector.
Since this episode – which makes Joaquin Phoenix’s recent Letterman performance look like an exercise in graceful eloquence – The Boxmasters have dropped out of the remainder of their Canadian dates, with the Canadian press giving predictably lukewarm reviews to those shows that did transpire.
The entire thirteen minute ‘interview’ is available to view below. You’ll want to make sure your hands are free, as you will almost certainly be watching the majority of it through your fingers.
You know who wrote this? Stuart Waterman from My Chemical Toilet. This information is vital.