By Connor Ryan | January 19, 2023
Since its inception almost two decades ago ago, the electronic-rock fusion duo, BoomBox, has blossomed into a mainstay of the jam music scene. With a couple personnel alterations along the way, the most recent iteration of BoomBox consists of lead vocalist/guitarist and founding member, Zion Rock Godchaux, and DJ/Producer, Kinsman MacKay. The two are self-described as “brothers from the same mother.” Their mother just so happens to be Donna Jean Godchaux, vocalist for the Grateful Dead between 1972 and 1979. With the musical pedigree that precedes them, it’s no surprise that Zion and Kinsman are heavily influenced by the Grateful Dead. However, the stylistic elements to their recorded songs and live sets pay homage to an eclectic list of artists and bands, including the likes of Bob Marley, A Tribe Called Quest, Social Distortion, John Coltrane, Jimi Hendricks, Van Morrison, and Blondie, to name a few.
While this duo describes themselves as “funky-disco blues,” they deem themselves as genre-agnostic. The essence of BoomBox is simple: “anything that comes out of a boombox, you could hear on stage.”
We caught up with Zion Rock Godchaux and Kinsman MacKay prior to the start of BoomBox’s tour and headlining set at The Bowery Ballroom to hear more about their inspirations, the Grateful Dead, what’s next for BoomBox, and a whole lot more…
What was your first concert you went to?
Kinsman: Actually mine was just some local punk rock band. I remember, you know, just being like a young teenager. I think that was technically my first concert, or it was probably watching mom (Donna Jean Godchaux, vocalist for the Grateful Dead) play.
Zion: Outside of the Grateful Dead would’ve been like Midnight Oil, I think.
Where are you from?
Zion: Well, let’s see, I was born in San Rafael, lived all over Marin as a little kid, and then we moved to Petaluma when I was eight years old. Then we eventually moved to Nevada later on. Just for a bit.
Just curious, as kids, did you guys get to spend a lot of time with your parents when they were doing their thing? (In reference to being on the road with the Grateful Dead)
Zion: It was lots of late nights, probably sleeping on cases and in the back of vans. At the time, we were just trying to keep ourselves occupied.
Kinsman: There was a lot of like having to miss a lot of school and stuff. It was interesting.
Do you come to NYC often?
Zion: We’re usually there at least once a year. It’s not more than that, but yeah, once a year. It’s the greatest city in the world. So amazing. It’s one of the hardest cities to keep a crowd. When we first started playing in New York, that was my first impression. It was just like, wow. So much stuff to do in this town right at this second. There’s so much going on, and everybody knows it. And if you let off the gas for, if you even think about letting off the gas on stage, people are gone.
What was the first concert you performed?
Zion: Our first show was actually on New Year’s Eve ‘06, and it was the first song that we played. We just walked up there, and we had had this nasty live version of, “Dark Star.” Mid seventies, like, super, super deep, heavy shit. Everyone’s like, “what the hell are they thinking? Oh my God.” We’re like, “We don’t even care that you’re wondering what the hell we’re doing. We’ll get there, we’ll get you guys there. Don’t worry.”
How would you describe your music – either by genre or general vibe
Kinsman: I just describe it to people as funky, house-y, blues. It’s a tough one to put your finger on, right? I mean, kinda the theory of boombox is just anything that comes out of a boombox, you could hear on stage.
Zion: We’re kind of a disco blues, you know?
Kinsman: Yeah, funky disco blues.
What is your pre show routine (anything you need to do, eat or drink)?
Kinsman: The one thing that has to happen – the whole crew gives each other fist bumps.
Zion: Personally, I always stretch. I have this foam roller, and I will hit that up before to make sure I am loose. Like in this breathing stretch, just opening up my lungs. There’s some certain yoga stretches that I do.
Who/what do you draw inspiration from?
Kinsman: I listen to everything like seventies funk to reggae to hip hop. When I was younger, I was really into punk music and stuff. It’s kind of hard to really put a finger on it.
What are the first few artists that come to mind from a reggae perspective, from a hip hop perspective, from a funk perspective?
Kinsman: As far as the funk, P Funk, Gap Band. Even that cheesy seventies stuff. As far as hip hop goes, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie, Tupac. For reggae, Marley, Tosh, Toots & The Maytals, stuff like that. Of course, older stuff. When I was younger, I was really into Social Distortion and NOFX. It’s just spread out all over the place. And then to this day, it just depends on the mood. Some reggae, or some house like Miguel Migs… The Dead… Whoever.
Zion: Like I said, Midnight Oil was a group I really listened to growing up. The Grateful Dead, of course. Marley and Tosh. I went through huge jazz phases, of Miles and John Coltrane and Charlie Parker. I’ve really been into Ravi Shankar and Ali and the Indian drone stuff. Anything funky.
Kinsman: Uh…BLONDIE! HAHA
Do you have anything you want people to take away from your music?
Zion: Just a bit of enjoyment and release from the normal grind. Maybe just like kindness. Realness, kindness and a little bit of joy.
Kinsman: I’d like them to take a smile with them.
What’s your dream venue to perform at?
Zion: I mean like probably the pyramids (In reference to the Grateful Dead’s performance at the Pyramids of Giza). Yeah, the pyramids would be cool.
Kinsman: I always thought it would be really fun to have a BoomBox at the Alamo show.
Zion: But like, you know, some Megalith, some ancient megaliths would be fun to perform.
Kinsman: Or the middle of Stonehenge. Next to Easter Island.
What’s next for you?
A bunch of shows and trying to get new music out…We’re pretty deep into some new material.
Connect with BoomBox on Instagram, Spotify, and their website.