Arrowhead alumni Christopher Norcross wins WUD Music Battle of the Bands with Madison-based group Boxing Day


Quotes used in this article were given by Christopher Norcross who spoke on behalf of the band.


For those in Great Britain, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas; for this indie rock band, it is an everyday mindset.  Neither British nor elves of Santa, Boxing Day consists of UW Madison students Jan Grzywacz (bass), Ella Scott (trumpet), Shayfer Huitt (drums), Annika Maxey (guitar), and Arrowhead alumni Christopher Norcross (guitar/vocals).  


On February 25, 2023, they performed at the WUD Music Battle of the Bands alongside mtn Air and Chapped Lips.  After a voting period of ten minutes on Google Forms…Boxing Day won the cash prize of $300 at 9:06 PM.


The band officially formed in “January” of this year when they played “studio showcases” according to Norcross at The Studio Learning Community; this is a group of residents in the Ogg Hall dorm building that have “access to art studios” and a “performance theater.”  When Boxing Day performed here they were a trio of only drums, guitar, and trumpet.  Grzywacz and Maxey joined soon thereafter, creating the quintet known today.


What does a band of aspiring rockers do with four-hundred dollars? One could choose an Alpha Electric Scooter, 2017 Apple MacBook Air or a 200lb folding treadmill…but once the check arrives at Norcross’s front door he says the band will “put it towards cool Boxing Day merchandise.”  


Norcross says that in a world where morals did not exist and band expenses were paid for, they would split the check “between DragonVale and My Singing Monsters gems.”


Once the yet to be produced merchandise sells out and fans are clamoring for more Boxing Day content they have but one option…record the music for streaming platforms.  The newly formed band currently has no songs on Spotify but they would “absolutely love to” get in the studio, says Norcross, but “for now, the boxers must cook up the most vile, earth-shattering indie beats to play live.”


“We’re focusing on honing our sound,” says Norcross.


The sound of the early 2020’s has been dominated by indie folk and modern disco; however, with the warm brass playing of trumpetist Ella Scott’s, the band has found a niche place in this decade’s musical array.  Such a unique sound can only come from unique influences.  Grzywacs draws his bass playing from classic rock bands such as “The Strokes, and The Police”.  Huitt hones his kick and snare craft with “PUP and The Public” singing in his head while performing.  


Mac Demarco’s psychedelic arrangements serve as an influence for Scott’s trumpet melodies; this can can most notably be heard on the band’s final song of the night, “Coming Down,” a bombastic track that leaves the listener’s ear with a nearly two minute treat of brass lullabies played by Scott.


Arguably the band’s largest influence is the Madison-born rock band “Slow Pulp” according to Norcross.  Their noise-pop influences can be heard on Boxing Day’s second song of the night, “Your Voice,” a track that tells a love story in not only its lyrics but also arrangement.  After a soft spoken opening, Norcross finishes the final chorus with a scream-talking vocal style reminiscent of Jack White; this is a contrast to Norcross’s solo work under the stage name, Croix du Nord, featuring vocals almost that of Billie Eilish over Phoebe Bridgers-influenced folk instrumentals.  


This band of such eclectic influences results in a discography of diverse soundscapes—and the writing process shows that.  Norcross says that a band member usually “brings part of a song to band practice, teaches it to everyone and then we all add our own pizzazz to make every song a Boxing Day Special.”  


“It’s like making a Jamba Juice smoothie,” says Norcross.


Boxing Days’ setlist is a musical smoothie, redolent of Whole Food juice blends with mango and celery that manage to please the taste buds.  “Sheep Sei” is the hidden gem of this smoothie, a song played midway through the show.  This riveting track opens with a bassline played furiously by Grzywacz before turning into a Mod-revival-era song reminiscent of British rock band The Jam that leaves the listener with the musical rush of a morning alarm clock.  The song is the “product of a bassline written many years ago” that came to fruition on a “bus ride” to “Home Depot” according to Norcross.


“The bassline boiled in the blood of our bassist until it popped out as the blistering ulcer that is Sheep Sei” says Norcross.


“Your Voice” contains the lyric “diving up to your apartment,” a reference to Norcross’s girlfriend of over a year, Ava LaBracke.  However, to the shock of many, LaBracke does not live in an apartment complex.   On this matter, Norcross says that “sometimes to be indie, you have to blur the lines a little bit.”


The “lines” of Boxing Day have been blurred recently and no, they didn’t cover the 2013 Robin Thicke song.  There are other groups who share the same band name; one is a punk group from Belgium and the other is from Portland, Oregon.  Norcross says that “there can only be one” band titled after this holiday.


 “We have scheduled a duel with the remaining Boxing Day posers,” says Norcross.


However, if the young rockers of the Madison-based band end up losing this match they have other non Christmas-related options for a band name including “Waxwing, Fart Napkin, and Olivine.”  One can hope Fart Napkin does not result in another dueling match.


Beatlemania describes the craze surrounding the 60’s rock band, the Beatles.  Young fans would chase the Fab Four down the streets of England and the symptoms of this include one who “thinks people who diss The Beatles have no life” according to one fan.  A variation of this has begun to surround this ‘fab five’; on social media network Instagram, an account titled “boxingdayismylife” posts updates on the band, unseen photos, and fandom content.  However, this does not appear to be a threat to the band because it is none other than their “good pal Rocky Indigo,” a freshman at UW Madison who has a radio show on WSUM 91.7 called Rocket’s Adventures.


Indigo says she started this page “because [their] music is just so so good” and she knew “nobody else could” boost “the best things about” the band “better than” her.


“It gets the word out about Boxing Day as a whole so it’s a WIN WIN.  Plus I get noticed by my fav band regularly, and the band and I became besties.  Truly a dream come true for me,” says Indigo.


Boxing Day’s next show will be on April 14th at The Nottingham Co-op at 7 PM.  For further updates one may visit the official band Instagram page and of course, Indigo’s boxingdayismylife.