By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 03, 2005 at 5:25 AM

{image1}Formed just three years ago, Milwaukee quartet The Box Social has been providing a running commentary to listeners with a new EP each year, starting with 2003's "What, Too Soon?"

The latest installment is "Blown to Bits" -- due out Oct. 18 -- with five high-energy, pop-infused tunes that are a little different than what the band has been working on, according to guitarist Nick Woods.

As the band gears up for the release of "Blown to Bits" and a tour to support and prepares to record its first full-length -- a project that's been in the works for nearly two years now -- Woods talked about the band, the EPs and its relationship with Milwaukee's No Karma Records.

OMC: The band has been releasing an EP each year for the past three years. Is that a financial decision or an artistic one?

Nick Woods: It was more artistic than financial. When we did our first EP/demo in 2003 ("What, Too Soon?"), we did so simply because we didn't have one out yet. All of the songs on it were super old - Nick Junkunc, our singer/guitarist, had written half of them about a year before they were actually recorded -- so by the time we actually got around to getting them on tape, we already had enough material for another EP.

{image2}About two months after we finished recording "What, Too Soon," we kind of realized how undeveloped the songs were in comparison to those that we hadn't recorded yet, so we were pretty eager to get back to the studio and get the new ones down too, which we did in the summer of '04 with "Golly Gee Whiz!"

We were planning on recording a full-length in the summer of 2005 following in the same sort of noisy pop we had always written, but accidentally wrote a batch of songs in the winter of '04 that were a lot louder than our other material. We didn't want to force them onto a full-length that was already pretty much written, but we also didn't want to throw away five songs that we were all really proud of. Those five songs are what showed up on "Blown To Bits," which we released as soon as we could, since we're all so hyped to get back in and record this full-length that we've had written for almost two years now.

OMC: Do you think releasing EPs more frequently is a good way to show the band's progression? Presumably if you were doing full-lengths, they wouldn't be coming out as often.

NW: I think that's kind of a difficult question. I think it's good that we've been able to release new material every year and provide anyone who may be interested in our music with new stuff to listen on a semi-frequent basis, but I think that it gives people a false notion of where we might be going as a band sometimes. I think some people consider us to be going in this new and possibly questionable direction now that we've put out an EP of less sugary music, but we're really not.

{image3}The same pop songwriting is still there, but I think with "Blown To Bits" we just turned up the volume a little bit more. So I think that by releasing these EPs so regularly, people have gotten a really frequent look at what we've been up to, but I think it's incorrect to assume that what they've been seeing is a mark of the general direction we're headed in creatively. We don't even have that great of an idea of where we're going to end up, honestly.

OMC: How did you hook up with No Karma? Is it a good home for the band?

NW: We were extremely lucky to be able to get something worked out with NK. Back when were just starting as a band, we got the opportunity to open for Tora Tora Torrance -- who've since broken up -- Temper Temper and Thunderbirds Are Now!. Michael Wojtasiak, No Karma's founder and sales guy, was in the crowd and sent us a message the day after saying that we were decent and that he'd keep his ear out for us.

We played with his band, The Five Mod Four, a couple of times, and we got know each other well enough that when The Box Social made the decision to record "Blown To Bits," I gave him a call and asked if Contraphonic Music, his other label, would be interested in doing the distribution for it, since we had gotten offers from a couple of small labels who were going to pay for the pressing but had no ability to promote it. That summer, we all got sick of trying to work out logistical stuff between two labels, and No Karma offered to do the whole thing.

No Karma is a great label. It's a perfect example of a couple of dudes who really put the legwork into building a business from the ground up. We've always considered ourselves a pretty DIY band, so I'm glad that we're working with a label that's the same way.

OMC: No Karma promises some "wackiness" in support of the EP. Can you give us a hint?

NW: We're going to have dinosaurs onstage. And we've got a Zima sponsorship in the works. I think that's pretty wacky.

OMC: What's next? Will you hit the road or start working on next year's EP?

NW: We're going to tour as much as we can and get ready to push for this full-length next summer. Hopefully it'll work out all right in the end.

The Box Social plays Friday, Oct. 21 at the Miramar Theatre with Bob Gun and Terrior Bute. The all ages show is a CD release party for "Blown to Bits."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.