Boxcar is an Australian Sydney-based synthpop and techno band. Formed in the mid-1980s in Brisbane by main songwriter guitarist and vocalist David Smith, he was soon joined by keyboardists Brett Mitchell and Carol Rohde and somewhat later by drummer-per...
Boxcar is an Australian Sydney-based synthpop and techno band. Formed in the mid-1980s in Brisbane by main songwriter guitarist and vocalist David Smith, he was soon joined by keyboardists Brett Mitchell and Carol Rohde and somewhat later by drummer-percussionist Crispin Trist. They initially released several cassette-only releases including the album P.C.M.. Boxcar's early material sounded similar to contemporaries such as Cabaret Voltaire and Severed Heads. Boxcar were also notable for playing many live shows in the Brisbane area and around the country, including shows where they performed wearing 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.
They rose to prominence after releasing the single "Freemason (You Broke The Promise)" in 1988 after signing with Volition Records, and hit number 8 in the United States Billboard dance music 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. "Freemason" was soon followed by the singles "Insect" (remixed by noted producer Arthur Baker) and "Gas Stop (Who Do You Think You Are?)" (remixed by Francois Kevorkian) (both of which also charted in the US but had little local impact - "Gas Stop" peaked at No. 82 on the ARIA singles chart) and by their formal debut album Vertigo on Volition in 1990.
Vertigo was well received by critics who noted the production was considerably more sophisticated than most electronic music produced in Australia to that point, due in large part to producer Robert Racic, who had also worked with Severed Heads and other Volition artists such as Single Gun Theory. Overall, Vertigo had a fairly pop feel, however the band also included more experimental instrumentals on the album such as "Comet" (also on the B-side of the "Freemason" single) and "Lelore" (featuring an eerie wailing as the centrepiece "vocal", it was released as a single in its own right). A round of live dates and tours followed including supports for New Order, Depeche Mode, Erasure and Pet Shop Boys.
Soon after the release of Vertigo, Rohde and Trist left Boxcar and the band relocated from Brisbane to Sydney and added keyboardist Stewart Lawler. A remix album Revision with reworkings of Vertigo tracks by various local producers, including Tom Ellard from Severed Heads, was released in 1992, but it was another two years until the follow-up album Algorhythm was released in Australia in 1994.
Algorhythm was a notably more trance and house-influenced effort than the synth-pop of Vertigo and spawned 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.