They're Players

In the ring with The Shadowboxers

Contenders: Matt Lipkins, Scott Schwartz, and Adam Hoffman are living the dream as the Shadowboxers, a rising pop band.
Matthew Fennell 11C/Special

The morning after dazzling Emily Saliers 85C of the Indigo Girls with his musical rendition of the Four Questions at a Passover dinner, Scott Schwartz 11C awoke with a Manischewitz hangover and his band’s big break. Schwartz had been “coaxed” into playing a few songs on the guitar later in the evening, which led Saliers to contact her manager. By June 2010, the Shadowboxers were officially signed. 

But before they were the Shadowboxers, they were just “Matt, Scott, and Adam,” says Matt Lipkins 11C. Within the first week of their freshman year at Emory, Adam Hoffman 11C’s music library popped up on Lipkins’s shared iTunes when they listened, even though they were in separate dorms. When he saw Hoffman’s name under artists like Miles Davis and Weather Report, Lipkins sought him out to talk music. Meanwhile, Schwartz and Lipkins were in the same music theory class and wrote a song together for their final project. The three performed “Not Again” for the Emory Arts Competition in late fall of their sophomore year and won.

Band members Hoffman (guitar and lead vocals), Lipkins (keyboard and lead vocals), Schwartz (guitar and lead vocals) and Ben Williams (bass) now play knockout shows all over Atlanta and opened for the Indigo Girls at Emory’s Homecoming in September. When we sat down with the original trio, gloves off, to nosh and talk music at their favorite pizza joint, they didn’t pull any punches.

What’s in the name?

Adam: Shadowboxing is warming up for a fight.

Scott: It’s a very rhythmic thing. And it also has a connotation of being a contender . . . you’re practicing, you’re preparing for something. And those are elements of our sound.

Adam: Boxing feels like an old sport. It’s old school somehow, and all of us love old music.

Who are your musical influences?

Matt: We’re all over the place, but we’ve got a bunch of common links. And that’s where we get our core sound.

Scott: I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan. My mom listened to a lot of Jackson Five; Temptations; Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Adam: My dad was a huge Zeppelin fan. And Rolling Stones . . . classic rock.

Matt: I was listening to blues a lot when I was a kid. And then in high school I got into soul music.

Can you characterize your sound?

Adam: We are a pop band. Most bands would be terrified of ever saying that, but we use the term pop in the sense of accessible. There’s nothing wrong with having music that millions of people can understand and attach to and relate to; I think that’s almost as beautiful as it gets. But we are not like Lady Gaga pop. We are musicians and that’s our role. We aren’t figures.

Scott: That was a big step for us, when we realized that it’s cool to be a pop band.

Adam: We’re totally cool with making music that anyone can listen to and anyone can enjoy.

Who do you picture yourselves touring with?

Adam: I think we’d all want to play Bonnaroo really bad. But that’s basically playing with everybody.

Matt: I don’t know if Maroon 5 would have us.

Scott: People say we sound like Maroon 5. We’ll take it.

If you could trade instruments, what would you choose?

Matt: Bass.

Adam: Drums.

Scott: Bass.

Top three most played on iTunes?

Scott: The Free Willy theme song by Michael Jackson. “Cut the Cake,” by Average White Band, and “Use Me” by Bill Withers.

Matt: “Feel Like Makin’ Love,” by D’Angelo. “F@#$ You,” by Cee Lo, and “Creepin’, ” by Stevie Wonder.

Adam: “Little Girl,” by Bill Frisell, “The Wild Hunt,” by The Tallest Man on Earth, and “Empty” by Ray LaMontagne.

What’s your group dynamic like outside the studio?

Adam: The three of us live together.

Scott: It’s a sitcom. Matt and Adam are like The Odd Couple.

Matt: Adam’s really good at organizing and keeping things on track and creating structure, and I’m . . . not as good at that.

Adam: The three of us together have a sense of humor that is very unlike our music in that it’s not easily accessible. So whenever someone new enters the mix they’re always like a little bit . . .

Matt: Weirded out.

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