Music Spotlight: Boxed Wine

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As the weather gets colder and the semester is in full gear, I find myself longing for summer nights spent with friends, listening to great music and relaxing. Nothing puts me back into that summer mindset better than Boxed Wine (and no, I’m not talking about the drink). New Brunswick locals Chris Nova, Ralph Icastro, Mike Cerisano, and Steve McCarthy join musical forces to create a sound that’s bound to make you dance.

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Amidst New Brunswick’s punk and hardcore scene, Boxed Wine is truly an indie-pop gem. It’s rare to find a band that encapsulates all those feel-good summer vibes, and even more rare to find a band that can do so all on their debut LP— Cheap, Fun.  From start to finish, this album keeps your head bobbing and your foot tapping along to rifts that feel almost addictive and drums that won’t quit. Nova’s lyrics are simple enough for you to learn after a single listen, but gripping enough to remember afterwards.

For fans of: Matt and Kim, Born Ruffians, and MGMT.

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I had the pleasure of going behind-the-scenes with the band for the shooting of their most recent music video for the song “Danger Eyes” (can you spot me in the video?). Directed by Boxed Wine’s very own Mike Cerisano with the help of friends Kevin Burns and Keith St. Lawrence, the music video’s unique storyline emphasizes and complements Boxed Wine’s music. Prior to filming, Boxed Wine were kind enough to do an interview with me. As their music suggests, they’re just a couple of upbeat dudes who like to have a good time with friends, listen to music and party.

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Hannah Gerber: First and foremost, why “Boxed Wine” as your band name?

Mike: Because no other band had it, and it’s ridiculous that no other band had it.

Chris: We wrote the first EP while drunk on boxed wine.

Ralph: Yeah, we were drunk most of the time on those demos.

HG: How did Boxed Wine start?

Mike [to Chris]: Don’t tell the story. You’re bad at it.

Chris: Dude, I’m just going to quote our short bio. Um, so me and Ralph were depressed after college because we got jobs, and it sucked, and through that depression we were like “Why don’t we try to write some music?” and we tried to write music like the music we listened to in school and it just kind of ended up growing into putting together a full lineup and writing the songs, figuring them out, recording them, and then kind of just figuring out the live-show later.

Mike: We all met in college and [Chris and I] were roommates freshman year.

Ralph: I’m younger than all of them.

Mike: And then I was in another band with Ralph prior to this and then that broke up, and he had this so I joined this and then I was in another band with him… and then our drummer Steve was in another band with me prior to this and he eventually came and played with us.

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HG: How would you describe Boxed Wine’s sound?

Chris: Well, we call it indie party-pop because we think it’s a clever name and it really is kind of fun, happy-go-lucky music that anyone can listen to and dance to. Ralph, do you have anything to say to add to that?

Ralph [eating a parfait]: You’re actually doing a really good job right now.

Mike: Boxed Wine’s sound? Super catchy indie pop with fuzzy bass.

HG: As far as inspiration goes for your music, what kinds of things did you draw upon while writing your album, Cheap, Fun?

Chris: Lyrically I’m all over the place. It’s about trying to make something that’s relatable and interesting.

Ralph: [Chris] pulls a lot from The Strokes, and I’m huge on Tokyo Police Club… All the bouncy fun bands, and then Phoenix, MGMT, Vampire Weekend… The list is like if you go onto Spotify and you look at related artists to Tokyo Police Club, you will pull up everyone that we like, and we just kind of took that sound and did our own thing with it. But we missed the boat. Guitars stopped being cool like, what, four or five years ago?

Chris: He’s not right on this. This is a topic of disagreement…

Ralph: So on the album we kind of made the guitars kind of sound a little wild, you know? It’s like really full and thick, and the bass is just gnarly. So we kind of tried to do our own thing with that, and we’re really happy with the way Cheap, Fun turned out.

HG: The production value of Cheap, Fun is incredible. Did you guys record the album yourselves or did you record in a studio?

Chris: Yeah we did it all ourselves. In our apartment, actually. Ralph is the producer, and I will give all credit to Ralph.

Ralph: My junior year of college I worked in a recording studio, so I write and play all of the music, and then we all check each other, and then we’ll bring extra singers as back-ups if need be.

HG: What’s your favorite song off of Cheap, Fun ?

Chris: I would say mine is probably… I really like “On The Run”, which is surprisingly doing very well on Last.fm, but “Tearing It Up” is doing very well on Spotify.

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HG: How do Boxed Wine’s shows usually go? What’s that energy like?

Ralph: Oh it’s a freaking riot…. But as long as we’re in the right setting, it’s a blast.

Chris [laughing]: Yeah, we’ve slowly learned that there are certain settings we can play in. Put us outdoors and you will be disappointed...See us in a basement and you will have a 75% chance of enjoying yourselves.

HG: Do you guys play a lot of shows?

Chris: We used to play way more but then we realized recently that it’s better if we hold off and try to play bigger shows, more important shows, and get people to actually come out, because that shows you’re doing a good job.

HG: Do you have a specific memory of the best show you’ve ever played?

Mike: 4/20. It was an awesome show and we were all sober for it.

HG: Was everyone just really into it?

Ralph: Yeah. We were really on that night. Um, it was a basement show, and I guess the other bands were cool…

HG [laughing]: “I guess…”

Ralph [laughs]: and we got a good slot and yeah we played really well. After the show we were really happy with ourselves. That kind of set off a chain of a lot of cool things for Boxed Wine. We had just gotten our new drummer [Steve] and he was a beast. He’s like rain man. He’s quiet, he’s really to himself, but then once you put him on the drums he’s nuts, and he’s really into Rush and all those “proggy” bands.

Mike: He’s the most awkward person you’ll ever meet… I love him.

HG: How long does it typically take you to write and record a song?

Ralph: Most songs are done in about two hours.

Chris: We wrote “Cannibal” in about 20 minutes.

HG: Do you have a favorite song or band at the moment that you can’t stop listening to?

Ralph: Magic Man! Have you heard Magic Man?

Chris: They sound kind of like a slightly orchestrated electronic sound which is just getting massive. It’s gonna be really big.

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Boxed Wine is definitely a band to watch and expect great things from in the future. Their song “Tearing It Up” was featured on Trim’s Fall Kickoff Playlist on Spotify, and you can download all their music (on a “name your price” basis) from their Bandcamp.

Happy Listening! xo

Hannah Gerber

Instagram: Han_nahg