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LESTER T. RAWW FROM ARKANSAS STARTED THE PINE BOX BOYS in 2003, originally planning to perform new renditions of old murder ballad classics like The Knoxville Girl, and Fair Eleanor. Soon, however, he found he was composing his own murder ballads, taking many liberties with the form. This lead to their first album, Arkansas Killing Time.
“In my mind, I wanted something that sounded like Willie Nelson in a punk band. I even tried to play a nylon-string guitar hoping it would sound like Trigger. This did not work. At all. So, I switched to a Martin; we sped up the tunes to bluegrass velocities and, well, here we are.”
None of this explains the emphasis on murder, misery, and zombies. Lester blames this on his mother:
“She grew up real, REAL country—outhouse, Sears catalog, if you catch my drift—so she raised me on all those old songs. And she liked horror films. Not so much now, but back in the day . . . whooo, we watched some scary stuff.”
Lester fashioned all of this into his unique brand of music: not exactly bluegrass—more like “bloodgrass.”