Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton has a side hustle that he considers his main hustle these days. It wasn’t always that way. “It wasn’t like I grew up wishing I was a rock star,” said the actor best known for his film “Sling Blade.” “I grew up wishing I was a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. Rock star was the second choice.” Funny, but at age 63, the number two choice is coming through for him.
“It’s all about rock ‘n’ roll these days,” said Thornton, who lives in L.A. with wife Connie Angland and daughter Bella, 14. “My joy is getting out there and playing two hours of our songs.”
His band The Boxmasters was founded in 2007, and is comprised of Thornton on drums and vocals, plus friends J.D. Andrew on guitar and vocals and Teddy Andreadis on organ and piano. They have eight albums of original material to choose from when they hit town on Aug. 10 at 8 p.m. for their show at Red Rock Casino’s Rocks Lounge.
Review-Journal: What’s a great Sunday for you?
Billy Bob Thornton: Our great Sunday is just hanging out at home. There is this TV show called “Steven Universe.” My family can spend an entire Sunday watching episode after episode of that show. We will do Sunday dinner out with my daughter. Other than that, we also watch a lot of sports. I’m a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan. If they’re playing and it’s on TV, then I’m watching.
You’ve played Vegas a lot with your band. What’s one of your stranger times here?
We always have a great time playing Vegas. I will never forget that last time they put me up in this suite at Red Rock that they keep for sultans. I called my other band guys and said “I bet your room is really nice, but you gotta see mine.” It was gigantic to the point where you could live in this suite. My whole family could have moved in. Honestly, it was one of the best hotel rooms, but there was one problem that was strange. The toilet had all of these controls on the wall. It was like a control panel on an airplane. I’m older now and I don’t see so well. I think it was the middle of the night and I went into the bathroom, leaned over and pushed some buttons. I must have pushed the wrong thing because the toilet seat lifted and hit me right in the face.
Do you ever put on a baseball cap and play a little blackjack post-gig?
Last time we did play a little video poker at the bar. We had a good ole time. It was real late at night and there wasn’t a big crowd. Maybe there was one lady and the bartender by us. I walked fast through the casino and looked down, so it didn’t cause any commotion, but the truth is I don’t mind talking to people. It’s nice. By the way, I did lose at video poker, but I went in knowing I would lose.
When did you find music?
I was the guy who loved the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Kinks. All of those great bands made up the classic era of rock ‘n’ roll. The music just began to seep into me as a kid. I watched the Beatles on “Ed Sullivan” because it’s not like we got them live where I lived in Arkansas. I don’t think Brian Epstein (Beatles manager) was working on those Arkansas shows with the promoters. He wasn’t saying, “Let’s play Hot Springs!”
When did you start playing drums?
I got one of those cheap drum kits from Sears when I was nine. By 13, I got my first real drum kit with the red sparkles on the sides. I never took formal lessons. I just learned to play by listening to music I liked.
You’ve won an Oscar for Best Screenplay for “Sling Blade” and were nominated twice for acting. What’s different about the thrill of singing live?
Acting and writing is great. But when you get on stage, the music just takes over. It becomes all you want to do. We have fans who really love coming to see the band. And more people come out each time and they know the songs. That’s a really good feeling.
When was the first time you came to Vegas?
I went to Vegas with some relatives of mine from California when I was in my mid 20s. That was my first time. Back then it wasn’t as kid-friendly as it is now. Vegas was more of a hard-core place in those days. … All I remember is that Vegas was so exciting and still is.
Would you ever zip line down Fremont Street now?
No! My least favorite thing on earth is recreation. My brother took his wife and son to Vegas recently and they went on the New York-New York roller coaster. They went on that thing! I couldn’t imagine doing that in a zillion years. It’s not just that I’m afraid of heights. I’m afraid of everything! I’m even afraid of elevators.
What do you have against recreation?
Come on! I was raised in the middle of nowhere. In the woods. As a kid, we went camping, boating and hiking all the time. That’s how I grew up. All I did when I was a little kid was dream of not having to camp.
Rocking out is a seriously physical game. Do you work out?
What! No! I just look like a skinny, old man. I have arms like noodles. If you asked me to hold a cellphone, I probably couldn’t do it.
What music do you like to listen to when you’re home?
Beatles, Allman Brothers, Wes Montgomery. I try to listen to my stuff when we’re in the car, but my daughter insists on playing the radio, so we listen to her stuff. I hear a lot of Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran doing their thing and that’s good, too. But if I’m alone, I listen to what we call “old man jazz.” When we get in the car, my daughter always says, “No old man jazz.”
After six decades on this planet, what have you learned about life?
I know now not to worry so much. For instance, you don’t really need to worry that much about your health when you’re in your 20s. Start worrying about it in your 50s and 60s. We spend too much time worrying. You waste a lot of years.