The Boxcar Suite to finally release album created pre-COVID



When guitarist Tony Moore moved to Ireland with his wife and kids in late 2019, his bandmates in the Boxcar Suite knew they’d be making some changes moving forward. However, Tim Pritchard (vocals, guitar), Phil Caviness (bass, vocals) and Trevor Bell (drums) had no idea what 2020 had in store.

The power-pop infused Americana act finished tracking a new album before Moore’s departure, but the release has been in a pandemic-related limbo since the middle of last year. There were a few digital singles, one in December and another in January, but the long wait is finally coming to an end.

Pre-orders are open now for “Every Side of the Abyss” (Magnaphone Records). The highly anticipated full-length follow-up to this writer’s pick for best local album of 2018, “Further In and Farther Out,” will be released on March 5.

Pritchard is not only the singer and primary songwriter, he also engineers and produces the band’s material. He recently jumped on the phone to answer some questions about “Every Side of the Abyss.”

Q: I know it’s going to be hard to replace Tony, but are you guys looking?

A: Right now, I don’t want to put the work into trying to get somebody to play with us. If the right person steps up, that might be an option, but for now, we’re playing as a three-piece and it’s going pretty well. The first thing we did as a power trio was at Art Jipson’s radio anniversary weekend. That was the trial and we knew if we could pull that show off as a three-piece, then it will work well and it did. We played one more show at Yellow Cab and then COVID hit.

Q: Did you play any outdoor shows over the summer?

A: We agreed to do one of those outdoor stage things at Yellow Cab. That was cool. I don’t know how many of those we’d want to play but it was good for Yellow Cab. I thought acoustic music worked pretty well that way. I’ve got the Revelry, a mostly acoustic side project that’s folk, country, bluegrass, rock and we played outside last summer too. I enjoyed that more. Having a rock band up there is a little weird because everyone is sitting in their own seats and separated.

Q: How does it feel to know the record is finally coming out?

A: We’re ready to get it in the hands of anybody who wants to listen to it. It represents the evolution of the Boxcar Suite into its current form and nicely bookends the era of music we made as the original lineup with Tony. I feel like it captures the sound we’ve been pursuing for years, at least to the fullest extent I could.

Q: The record has been finished for a while. Why did you decide to hold the release until now?

A: A lot of good music came out in 2020. This year should be really good too because an equal number of people decided to hold onto records until they could tour or at least do a big release show. My motivation wasn’t really that, but it took the urgency away that a lot of local bands feel to book the release show and do that whole cycle for the album. This let us take a step back and say, ‘Maybe it would be better to wait and try to get some album promo out ahead of time.’ My initial trajectory was to try to have the album out last summer and play a bunch of shows but there was no rush at all to do that during COVID.

Q: The record is coming out but you still can’t play shows. What’s the plan for promoting it in this world?

A: We’re experimenting with that. The reality is more and more people promote records by sharing them on the Internet, for better or worse. There’s the whole vinyl listenership base and a narrow margin of people still want it on CD or whatever physical format they can play but the reality is the bulk of the market is people who stream music. In that sense, other than people that come out to live shows, that’s still the same ballgame. We’ve been focused on trying to work through Magnaphone to get the record out and get it some attention with music reviewers, blogs and places that people might be looking for music. That’s the positive aspect of the Internet. A lot of bands just rely on a local following and having a big album release show. Bands really need to focus on sharing the music outside of Dayton and getting it heard.

Q: How are you promoting this different than past albums?

A: We’re taking the approach of releasing several singles before the full-length comes out on March 5. We released a track called ‘Lit Hunk’ back in December. We released a track called ‘Post Up’ in January. We’ve got a video up for that now and those songs are up on all the streaming platforms. There will be another single, ‘Turndt Awn,’ out on Feb. 12. We’re promoting the album pre-order and anybody that supports that gets a bonus track and instant downloads of all the singles we’ve put out.

Q: Once an album drops, the shelf life is very short. Are the advance singles a way to extend the promotional window?

A: Yeah, releasing singles first seems to be the way to do it now. A lot of people that came of age in the ’90s or 2000s, when albums were really the primary way of consuming music, are stuck in their old ways. Of course, the Internet music age has changed all of that substantially. At this point, you’re right, the shelf life is like the week it’s released. We kind of took a step back and are promoting one track at a time, the way most people consume music through streaming services. Then we can still do the full album release thing for people that want it.

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