video by Shelby Wolfe | words by Kekeli Dawes | photo by Rhett Muller
More often than anywhere else, Josh Hoyer and the Shadowboxers perform their tight brand of soul music at The Zoo Bar. The nine piece ensemble’s anthems for everyday people are complete with blaring horn lines, furious guitar riffs and fiery live arrangements. The band will be headlining this year’s ZooFest, right outside the front door of 14th Street venue.
But The Zoo is also where these songs are born. Above the bar, in a dingy workroom, Josh Hoyer works in complete privacy.
As Hoyer is the sole songwriter for the group, he composes and arranges tracks and records demos of complete songs, all on his own. It can take hours, it can take days. In the workroom, Hoyer plays one-man-band, tracking his organ, synthesized horn lines, bass and drums, and even beatboxes and squeaks out a falsetto hooks for backup vocals.
With just his trademark organ, Roland synthesizer and his Zoom MRS 10-track recorder, Hoyer explains and demonstrates his process, and even unearths early sketches of the Shadowboxers’ most popular tunes. A man of habit, Hoyer has stuck to this particular workflow for more than a decade. Last week, he let Hear Nebraska in on it.