You might not know it but the first band signed by Vagrant Records was Boxer from Boston, Mass. The band’s one and only album, The Hurt Process was produced by none other than Face to Face’s Trever Keith and released by Vagrant on May 5th, 1998. It’s an under-appreciated but masterful slab of post-Lifetime post-hardcore influenced melodic punk rock that’s one of my all time favorites. Now the wife (not yet the wife at that point) and I moved to Indianapolis earlier that Spring and somehow spent quite a bit of that summer hanging out with these boys. We had some good times and (more importantly to their legacy) the music was amazing.
It was a long time ago and I don’t exactly remember the first time we met ‘em, but I know we were all just kids back then and having a blast. At the point we knew the band, Boxer was Matt, Jeremy, Dave, Will, and Nathan. They crashed at our house a number of times so all these memories sort of bleed together, but here’s what I’ve got.
I remember riding in their van to a show in Muncie, Indiana that summer when they put on a dubbed cassette tape of Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity. We were floored by the record and made our own cassette copy even though it wouldn’t officially be released for another 7 months or so. The show we were en-route to was at a little record shop called Stevie Ray’s House of Wax and also featured a band you may (or may not) have heard of called At The Drive-In. The show was incredible and would have been highly memorable without it, but I was awestruck when, during their final song, one of the guys in Boxer poured lighter fluid on the cymbals and let Nathan smash away. It was fucking epic. After that show the guys in Boxer and At The Drive-In crashed at our tiny apartment and, in the morning, Matt from Boxer made everyone some delicious apple pancakes.
We also rode in Boxer’s van with them to a show at the Fireside Bowl in Chicago where they played with the pop-punk band Lounge. After the show headed back South, the van was speeding down I-65 somewhere around Lafayette, IN, we drove through a mess of semi-truck traffic and then (in the rearview mirrors, thank God) saw the truck leading the pack behind us swerve and jack-knife across the road, then… nothing. It was a surreal moment to say the least. I also remember that when we got back to Indianapolis there were fireworks shot out of van windows in a liquor store parking lot. I’ll say no more about that except no one was hurt (I think), just use your imagination.
All in all we had some pretty amazing times that summer… times we’ll never forget. On The Hurt Process, Boxer was actually a bit of a different band. Matt and Nathan hadn’t yet joined, and their original drummer was Chris Pennie, who is a founding member of The Dillinger Escape Plan and now also plays drums for Coheed & Cambria.
As for the guys we knew, Jeremy McDowell played guitar and was terribly allergic to our cat Indie (see Will with her in at least one of the picures). He spent at least a few nights sleeping in the van instead of on our floor. Will Kerr played bass and Dave Vicini sang. Dave was (and I presume still is) one very tall dude. Post-Boxer, both of them played in The Lot Six and Dave is now in Viva Viva. Nathan Shay played drums for Boxer and before that served a short stint as the drummer for the Get Up Kids. Some say that the Get Up Kids song “Second Place” is about him… I don’t know for sure. Nathan also spent some time playing in a band called Winner Road after Boxer. Matt Wachter played guitar for Boxer that summer of 1998. Since then he has played bass in 30 Seconds To Mars and (now) plays bass in Angels & Airwaves. How’s them apples?
For whatever reason, Boxer’s one album is not available from Vagrant nor iTunes. In fact, I couldn’t find it for purchase anywhere on the ‘ol internet, so as far as I’m concerned, this is out of print. It is (however) way too good to stay that way so below you’ll find the entirety of The Hurt Process in MP3 format. I never post full albums but you can’t get this anywhere else. Enjoy.
Boxer - We Don't Like Them Girls
Boxer - Blame It On The Weather
Boxer - Georgia
Boxer - Lucy
Boxer - Child Labor Laws
Boxer - Blue And Gray
Boxer - Shorepoints
Boxer - If You Got 'Em, Smoke 'Em
Boxer - By The Way...
Boxer - One For Milwaukee
Boxer - Do The Math
Boxer - You And Me