Crayon Box Massacre
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Crayon Box Massacre

Wheeling, Illinois, United States | SELF

Wheeling, Illinois, United States | SELF
Band Pop Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"An Interview with Adam Barnett from Crayon Box Massacre"

"I recently had the opportunity to chat with Adam Barnett, the multi-instrumentalist and sole creative talent behind the recently released Crayon Box Massacre EP Bears With Stripes.

Adam describes Bears With Stripes as "all around catchy tunes that adhere in your brain like the stickiest glue you can buy". Personally I can't argue with that description, considering that I had the song "Wolves" stuck in my head in just such a fashion.

Bears With Stripes is the first release by Crayon Box Massacre. A four-song EP, it features an eclectic mix of playful melodies created on a variety of instruments including guitar, mandolin and accordion.

Adam, I was listening to your new EP and I was wondering how you came up with the title Bears With Stripes?

Well, an underlying theme of the EP is the "blue moon" and the endless possibilities (both positive and negative) that it can bring. I, personally, would love to see a bear with stripes.

And the name? Crayon Box Massacre? Very creative. And a little frightening. Where in the world did that come from?

I originally came up with the name when I started my solo project in 9th grade. It was mostly a result of me coloring too intensely as a kid. However, I've been able to come up with an artsier meaning for the name that allows me to stick with it. When any kid gets a crayon box, all of the colors are in a particular order, and are sharpened to create the most intricate art any one child and imagine. However, over time, those crayons break, become dull, get mixed up, are shoved up noses, and in the end are replaced by markers and colored pencils... A metaphor for most things that have to do with life, I guess.

I was also wondering about the artwork on the EP

I started drawing the artwork halfway through recording the EP. The three bears represent the family of bears from Goldilocks, which goes along with the whole "preserving childhood" theme of the first track. The crayons that they all sit/stand on are icebergs, in a sense. They're pretty stranded. Maybe if the "blue moon" had come quicker, they would have stripes, and wouldn't be stuck, dying as polar bears.

How many instruments do you play?

My main instrument was guitar for about five years. I played some jazz, folk, and whatever else. But then I realized that guitar is so…typical. So I started focusing more on mandolin and accordion over the past couple of years. I've also made it a point to improve my piano and ocarina skills.

Are you the only person playing on the EP?

I play everything on the EP from synths and drums, to mandolin and every vocal harmony you hear.

Who produced the EP and where?

I recorded, mixed, and produced it myself in MAD Dragon Studios C, and E. They're the studios that are open to Drexel students. My friend, Adam Laub, and I mastered it in Studio E as well.

Who would you say were your first musical influences, who made you first want to become a musician?

When I first picked up a guitar in 8th grade, I really didn't have anyone at the time who I would say made me become a musician. But when I started the project in 9th grade, I was really influenced by Conor Oberst and everything he did up to that point musically, and lyrically. Now my influences have somewhat shifted to Parenthetical Girls, Joanna Newsom, and Okkervil River. I definitely still have my Bright Eyes-influenced roots, though.

You've finished your first year in Drexel's Music Industry program. Would you say you focused more on the performing arts during that year or the business aspects of the music industry?

I focused a lot on tech. My main goals were to master Pro Tools and Logic to the point where I could produce my own EP by the end of the year. I definitely did spend some time on performing arts in some ensembles, and took a few classes in business and law as well.

Did the idea for EP come about through the program or was it a totally separate venture?

"Checkers," has been a song of mine since 11th grade, and I just rerecorded it with some accordion. The rest of the songs were written at Drexel, and production ideas came out of what I've learned at Drexel. But it mostly came out of my drive to write music, and perfect it as much as possible.

What are your plans for the future? Are you planning to continue as a musician, a producer or would you be more interested in the corporate side of the music business?

I'm actually transferring to the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) in the Fall with a major in advertising, and hopefully, a minor in music. But, I'm going to keep making and recording music. I also have an internship set up in the touring/booking side of things, though. I just want to stay extremely well rounded in every aspect of the industry. As far as Crayon Box Massacre goes, I've sent the EP out to several labels, and I'm waiting to hear back from some, and if I don't, then I'll just keep trying. Either way, I’m playing a few solo shows every once in a while. I’m working on some experimental things I can do during shows like looping vocals and samples during songs to make them sound less…acoustic.

Do you have any advice or recommendations for others who might also want to go into the music field, but who might not have the advantage of learning under such an experienced staff?

I would have to say that it's really important to make your music different than all of those other bands out there. Yeah, it's good to have influences and a particular style you stay consistent to, but if you're music sounds just like another band, then what's the point? That band already exists, so why not make a completely new band that other people would want to sound just like? As far as production goes, make sure you experiment with different techniques, and be as thorough in your work as possible so that you can really be satisfied with what you come out with.

My favorite song on the EP is "Wolves". I particularly loved the dichotomy of the beautiful harmonies and dark lyrics. There's a lot going on in the background of that song, I felt like I was missing some unseen action — were you planning to turn it into a video?

Thanks a lot! I was not initially planning on making a video. The sounds in the background, and all of that are essentially supposed to create a mood for the song. I kind of wanted to leave everything up to interpretation.

Could you tell me a little bit about what inspired that song and the others?

"Wolves" kind of just started as a little mandolin riff I was playing one day that caught my attention. As soon as I played it over and over again, I just decided to go down to the studio and start recording whatever stuff came into my head to put over it. As far as the lyrics go, I wanted to build on the "Blue Moons" theme. I figure, Wolves go with moons, and everything just kind of shot off from there. It's all about an alarm towards the end of the world from the eyes of a somewhat, insane person. I wrote “Checkers” on a boat. The other two songs were just a result of the typical song writing process of sitting in my room late at night, eating some cookies, and pretending to be productive.

When are you planning your next release?

I'm recording some music at home right now, and I'm planning on releasing a full length album by next summer." - Seattle pi


Bears With Stripes (2010):

4-track EP recorded, mixed, and produced by Adam Barnett
Mastered by Adam Barnett and Adam Laub



A Chicago-based band, Crayon Box Massacre is comprised solely of Adam Barnett. With the help of his trusty guitar, mandolin, accordion, and imagination, he performs, records, and produces his music by himself in one way or another.

Drawing upon influences from Parenthetical Girls, Joanna Newsom, Okkervil River, and Bright Eyes, Crayon Box Massacre brings you lyrics you're not quite used to listening to, harmonies that make your ears tingle, and catchy melodies that stick to your brain like that sticky tack you can't get off of your dorm-room wall.

From the Myspace:

"This is what you get when you forget to eat for three days but drink enough water to keep you full. From the small town of Wheeling, Illinois, and the large-ish campus of Drexel University, comes a flux of sound enthralling enough to keep you occupied while you accomplish daunting, or not so daunting tasks. However, this sound can't be your first priority. First learn to strive to be a better person, even though you know you can't. Maybe you can. Maybe this music will help you become a better person, but that's not the purpose of it, so don't ponder anything you hear. Just deal with it."

Up to this point in time, he has independently released an EP entitled "Bears With Stripes," and he continues to write and record music for his full length album for its release in 2011.

As far as live music is concerned, Crayon Box Massacre performs his music with a blast of energy while using stories, obscure samples, sound effects, and good ol' fashioned elbow grease.

An interview is up on Blogcritics and Seattle PI for those who want to learn more about the band:

Crayon Box Massacre is open to work with anyone and is always willing to try something new.