|Origin||Brisbane, Queensland, Australia|
Boxcar were an Australian electronic dance pop group formed in Brisbane in 1986. Their founding mainstay was David Smith on vocals, guitar and keyboards. Three of their singles appeared on the Billboard dance chart top 20, "Freemason (You Broke the Promise)" (1988, No. 8), "Insect" (1990, No. 20) and "Gas Stop (Who Do You Think You Are?)" (1990, No. 8). They released two albums on Volition Records/Sony Music Australia, Vertigo (1990) and Algorhythm (1994), before disbanding in 1997. They briefly reformed in 2010 and in 2014.
Boxcar were an Australian electronic dance pop band. They formed in 1986 in Brisbane by Carol Rohde on vocals and keyboards (ex-Ironing Music) and David Smith on vocals, guitar and keyboards. They were soon joined by keyboardist, Brett Mitchell, and somewhat later by drummer-percussionist Crispin Trist.
Boxcar independently issued cassette-only material including an album, P.C.M.. Their early work sounded similar to contemporaries, Cabaret Voltaire and Severed Heads. Australian musicologist, Ian McFarlane, explained "the intention was to combine noise with a beat, technology with a decent song." AllMusic's Michael Sutton felt they "sounded more like New Order [the similarity] is mainly in the weary vocals of [Smith], which easily recalls Bernard Sumner's melancholic tone."
Boxcar played live shows in the Brisbane area and then other capitals; at gigs they wore gas masks. Performing electronic music live was a difficult feat given the preference in Australian live venues for guitar-driven pub rock and they would sometimes be jeered by members of the crowd. McFarlane observed "[they] made little headway, mostly due to a general lack of interest in electronic dance-pop within the rock milieu, rather than any lack of talent on the musicians' part."
They signed with Volition Records/Sony Music Australia to release a single, "Freemason (You Broke the Promise)", in November 1988. When issued in the United States via Arista Records/Nettwerk Records in the following year, it hit No. 8 on the Billboard dance chart. Initially criticised in the local press for being derivative of New Order they nevertheless built a local following, despite a lack of commercial radio airplay for electronic music. They followed with two more singles, which also appeared on the Billboard dance chart: "Insect" (remixed by noted producer Arthur Baker) at No. 20 and "Gas Stop (Who Do You Think You Are?)" (remixed by Francois Kevorkian) at No. 8. In Australia, "Gas Stop" peaked at No. 82 on the ARIA singles chart.
The group's first album on Volition, Vertigo, was released in November 1990. Boxcar's line-up was Mitchell on additional programming; Rohde on keyboards and programming; Smith on vocals, guitars and keyboards; and Trist on drums and programming. It was produced by Robert Racic (Severed Heads, Single Gun Theory) and recorded at Sun Studios, CBS Studios, and Albert Studios, Sydney.
Vertigo received mixed reviews from critics: AllMusic's William Cooper rated it at two-and-a-half stars out-of five and explained "[a]lthough the New Order inspired arrangements are derivative, Vertigo is redeemed by Boxcar's upbeat, catchy melodies"; McFarlane opined that it "was a very accessible collision of sound, song and dance beats." It had a fairly pop feel, however the band also included more experimental instrumentals, such as "Comet" (also on the B-side of the "Freemason" single) and "Lelore" (featuring an eerie wailing as the centrepiece "vocal", which was released as a single in its own right). The group toured Australia as supports for New Order, Depeche Mode, Erasure and then Pet Shop Boys.
In 1992 Rohde and Trist left the group, which relocated to Sydney, where they added a keyboardist, Stewart Lawler. In September of that year they issued a remix album, Revision, with re-workings of Vertigo' tracks by various producers. One of the remixers is Tom Ellard from Severed Heads.
Boxcar's second studio album, Algorhythm, was released in November 1994. The Canberra Times' Nicole Leedham reported "[it] is pure techno and is best heard on a dance floor, but if your house doesn't come equipped with one of those the best alternative is to light some candles and lose yourself in the hypnotic sound." McFarlane noticed "[i]t was another modern-sounding album without being too clean or sterile."
Algorhythm was a notably more trance and house-influenced effort than the synth-pop of Vertigo and provided the singles "Universal Hymn", "What Are You So Happy About?" (featured on the soundtrack to the 1996 film Love and Other Catastrophes) and "People Get High". The album took almost another two full years until it was released in the United Kingdom and Europe in 1996 on Pulse-8. Although not officially defunct, it was around about 1997 that Boxcar started to play fewer live dates.
In October 2007, an announcement was made of their return gig participating in the Upgrade night at QUT. There is also a new track on their website, named for the infamous Atari ST game, Llamatron. It is also indicated that Brett Mitchell is no longer a member of the band.
Boxcar are featured in "BNE - The Definitive Archive: Brisbane Independent Electronic Music Production 1979-2014", which is a hardcover book and USB music archive published by Trans:Com in September 2014. Boxcar contributed 3 previously unreleased tracks to BNE, and reformed to headline the launch event on 6 September 2014 at the Brisbane Powerhouse, with a lineup that included David Smith, Alison Cole, James Wingrove, and original member David Corazza.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart|
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1988||"Freemason (You Broke the Promise)"||—||—||8||Vertigo|
|1990||"Gas Stop (Who Do You Think You Are)"||82||—||8|
|1992||"Hit & Run"||172||—||—||Revision|
|1994||"What Are You So Happy About?"||113||—||—|
|1996||"People Get High"||—||139||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that country.|
- McFarlane, Ian (1999). "Encyclopedia entry for 'Boxcar'". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-072-1. Archived from the original on 9 August 2004.
- Stafford, Andrew (2006). Pig City: from the Saints to Savage Garden. University of Queensland Press. pp. 180–181. ISBN 070223561X.
- Sutton, Michael. "Boxcar | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
- "Boxcar Bio". Nettwerk website. 1990. Archived from the original on 2006. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- "Australian Music Report No 746 – 14 November 1988 > Singles: New Releases". Imgur.com (original document published by Australian Music Report). Retrieved 21 February 2018.
- "Billboard > Boxcar Chart History > Dance Club Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
- Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
- Top 100 peaks to December 2010: Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 39.
- "Freemason (You Broke the Promise)": "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 24 May 2016". Imgur.com. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
- "Insect" and "What Are You So Happy About?": "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 5 June 2015". Imgur.com. Archived from the original on 5 June 2015. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
- "Gas Stop (Who Do You Think You Are)": "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles Chart – Week Ending 17 Feb 1991 (61–100)". Imgur.com (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved 21 February 2018. N.B. The number in the HP column displays the highest peak reached.
- All ARIA chart peaks to 20 February 2018: "Response from ARIA re: Boxcar ARIA chart history, received 20 February 2018". Imgur.com. Retrieved 20 February 2018. N.B. The High Point number in the NAT column represents the release's peak on the national chart.
- Boxcar (Musical group) (1990), Vertigo, Arista, retrieved 19 September 2017
- Penhallow, Andrew (18 November 1996). "Master of Dance Music Innovation". The Australian. News Limited. p. 15.
- Cooper, William. "Vertigo – Boxcar | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
- Leedham, Nicole (26 December 1994). "Home Entertainment: Great Australian Techno". The Canberra Times. 70 (21, 802). p. 32. Retrieved 19 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
- Remmer, Dennis (2014). BNE - The Definitive Archive: Brisbane Independent Electronic Music Production 1979-2014. Transmission Communications. p. 41. ISBN 9780646921501.
- Project BNE: Brisbane Independent Electronic Music Production 1979-2014
- "New Release Summary – Product Available from: 19/11/90 > Albums (from The ARIA Report Issue No. 45)". Imgur.com (original document published by Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA)). Retrieved 19 September 2017. Note: shows artist as Box Car
- "Chart Log UK 1994–2010 > Darren B – David Byrne". zobbel.de. Retrieved 20 February 2018. N.B. This site displays uncompressed chart (no exclusions applied below number 75) peaks for positions 76–200, between November 1994 and May 2001. Some chart peaks listed may therefore differ from those on the Official Charts site.