The Shadowboxers — Justin Timberlake's Opening Act — Share Their Man of the Woods Tour Diary
"Justin has made us more confident all across the board," says Tyler. "He's shown us how to take ownership of our craft in every facet: on stage, in the studio, and all the moments in between."
"We've always believed that our music could exist on the biggest of stages and platforms, but we never realized how much we, the messengers of that music, can affect it and how it's received just by adjusting our mindsets towards relentless self-belief," Tyler adds.
The band has plenty of pre-show rituals on Timberlake's Man of the Woods Tour.
"It usually consists of us all taking a shot and chanting some inside-joke nonsense," says Hoffman. "It helps to sort of come in together and remember that we’re the same guys who started this thing in a college dorm room. The stage is bigger, but we’re not, and that hands-in moment before the show always reminds us of that."
They've been hustling for 10 years, but the guys don't think they've "made it" yet.
"Honestly, we’re not there yet," says Lipkins. "Persistence is very different from longevity, and that’s the goal for us; when we get to a point where we have the fan base, the catalogue, and the demand to tour for the rest of our lives if we want to, then we’ve made it."
The trio's biggest pinch-me moment came last year when they opened for Timberlake.
"When we opened for Justin at the Formula One Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, there were 80,000 people there…80,000. I mean, we've never felt anything like that before."
The band has a solid relationship with Timberlake outside of the recording studio.
"Our first impression of Justin was that, at the end of the day, he really is one of the most genuine down-to-earth guys we know," says Hoffman. "Of course he is wildly talented at so many different things — you should see the dude snowboard — but he’s also just a great guy to be around, and he’s funny as hell. The text thread between the three of us and him is 90 percent nonsense and 10 percent business."
Adds Lipkins: "He’s exactly the guy you hope he is: charming, warm, really funny, self aware, hard working, uber talented. The guy is proud of where he comes from but also of where he’s taken himself, so, as you know, he likes putting on different hats. Watching him switch on 'musician,' change to 'performer' or 'producer'... it’s the most creative, raw energy and talent we’ve ever been lucky enough to be around — and also one of the best hangs."
On the road, the band — who formed when they were at Emory University — decompress with movie binges.
"We have to have the ability to watch — often bad — movies together," says Tyler. "It's our undeniable morale booster, perfect for any scenario: pre-show pump up, post-show wind-down, long hours on the bus."