The Shadowboxers are on the move and hitting big arenas this year thanks to their Man of the Woods friend Justin Timberlake.
Founding members Adam Hoffman, Matt Lipkins and Scott Tyler met at Emory University and have been making music ever since. Their name Shadowboxers refers to someone making motions to attack and they choose to battle with their progressive rhythms.
While booking shows around the Atlanta area, the group caught the ear of Indigo Girls singer Emily Saliers. Tyler played some music for her in person and a year later they all hit the road together.
After a chance tweet to Justin Timberlake The Shadowboxers are back at it again now landing them in Chicago at the United Center for two dates and releasing new music.
Windy City Times: How did the group come together?
Matt Lipkins: We met in college in 2008, We have been together for nine years now. We are currently based out of Nashville when we are not touring.
WCT: How did the Indigo Girls hear about the band?
Scott Tyler: It was through a friend that Emily Saliers heard us. Their manager became our manager a week later. We toured with them for two years after that. We learned their songs and would sing in five part harmony together onstage sometimes. It was a great experience.
WCT: You must have gained a big LGBT following from that tour.
Adam Hoffman: Yes, we did. As you know, Indigo Girls' fans are very loyal. We were thankful to that diverse crowd every night. They continue to follow us to this day.
ML: After that tour we started a fundraiser for our album Red Room. We raised over $32,000 from a Kickstarter campaign. It could not have been made without the fans we gained from the Indigo Girls. When Emily Saliers and Amy Ray tell their followers to listen to someone they do it!
WCT: Wasn't the band just in Chicago?
AH: Yes, we just played at Lincoln Hall. We can't wait to come back. The Windy City is one of our favorite places.
WCT: How are you going to translate the music from a small space like Lincoln Hall to a large venue like the United Center?
AH: We have been working on that. This is really helping us hone in on our sound. I dreamed about our music existing in spaces like this. Our music was always bigger than the room we were playing in.
The puzzle pieces are now coming together and we are having fun doing it.
WCT: How did Justin Timberlake hear about your music?
ML: We were posting a cover series on YouTube. Adam tweeted our cover of Justin's "Pusher Love Girl" over to him, thinking we would never hear back. We tweeted to all of the artists that we covered. He posted about it and we met during his 20/20 Tour.
He began to mentor us and signed us to Villa 40 label.
WCT: He produced your single "Hot Damn!?"
ML: Yes, along with the other tracks co-produced by K-Kov. Our EP Apollo comes out March 23.
WCT: Why is is called Apollo?
ML: There are few reasons, but mainly because Apollo was the god of music and the sun. This is the next stage in our music so we wanted something powerful and to have a new beginning.
There is the Apollo space program so this is a launching point for us. This is phase one of our songwriting.
AH: We are called The Shadowboxers and we love the Rocky Movies. The first opponent is named Apollos.
WCT: What are the other tracks on the album besides "Hot Damn!?"
ST: "Runaway," "Brakes," "Timezone," "Wolves" and a self-titled song "Shadowboxer."
WCT: Does Justin sing on any of the songs?
ST: No, but he does have some vocal percussion on some of it.
We also used a lot of found objects in the studio.
WCT: Was it recorded in Nashville?
AH: No. It was partially recorded in LA, but mostly in New York.
WCT: What is something about Justin Timberlake that would surprise people?
AH: I think everyone knows he is super-down to earth, but he also devoted, loyal, and was attentive to detail with us.
He called us directly in the first place, not an assistant. It is because he cares about who he collaborates with.
WCT: How do you warm up your voices to hit those falsetto notes?
ST: When we fight with each other.
AH: Sometimes we will just start an argument to warm us up! [laughs]
The Shadowboxers join Justin Timberlake for The Man of the Woods Tour March 27-28 at United Center, 1901 W. Madison St.