It’s been more than seven years since Billy Bob Thornton had his historic “Would you say that to Tom Petty?” outburst when he thought a Canadian radio host was belittling his band, but all of that time definitely hasn’t softened him on the belief that his music career is just as legitimate as his acting career. GQ caught up with him recently for an extensive profile, and he spends a good chunk of the story talking about his band, The Boxmasters. However, just as it was seven years ago, Billy Bob Thornton talking about his band is actually more like Billy Bob Thornton complaining about how people perceive his band.
One of his big sticking points in the article is that he enjoys talking to fans after Boxmasters shows, but he gets sick of people who say they like his band instead of saying they like his band’s music. “You like my band?” He says, “What was I, just fucking masturbating up there? I wrote every fucking word to those songs.” The implication there is that liking his band is disrespectful to the art of his songwriting, much like how everybody always says “I like Tom Petty’s songwriting abilities” and not just “I like Tom Petty.” Also, he hates it when people say things like “oh, you have a band now,” because it’s “really patronizing.”
But those annoyances are nothing compared to the fans who ask him to sign Sling Blade DVDs or whatever after a show. He’ll sign them, sure, but he knows that person is going to “go home and fuck missionary like a metronome and never have an original creative idea in [their] life.” He also gets into the roadies and touring musicians who work with his band, most of whom he thinks don’t properly appreciate the honor it is to be near The Boxmasters in the great cities they play in. “People will drag ass and they’ll discuss shit and they’ll talk about this, that, and the other,” he says, and then “they’ll wonder what we’re going to have for fucking lunch.” As the story points out, Thornton doesn’t care about fucking lunch, because all he eats are oat bars covered in some kind of disgusting butter substitute.
Now, with all of that said, it may seem like it would be easy to define who Thornton is these days, but then GQ drops a bomb: It turns out that he’s super into My Little Pony. He says he watches the show with his daughter, and he has really “been thinking about and relating to” a multi-episode arc from the Friendship Is Magic show about a village where the ponies are forced to remove their unique cutie marks and replace them with equal signs. Summarizing his thoughts would be a disservice to his art, so here’s the whole thing:
This was amazing because the Mane Six ponies, who are the stars of the show, they go out there because Celestia, who runs Equestria, she will tell Twilight Sparkle she needs to go somewhere, but she doesn’t tell her why…So anyway, suddenly they get captured by them and told that they have to remove their cutie marks and get equal signs. But they said, you know what? No. So Fluttershy, who is my favorite because she kind of talks like Marilyn Monroe, says, ‘Oh, yes.’ Fluttershy acts like she wants to become a member, you know? And so they give her the cutie-mark equal-sign stamp and everything. And then she notices something, like it rains, and it washes off Starlight Glimmer’s equal sign, and she’s got her own cutie mark. So she’s like a Jim Jones cult, you know, right?
The takeaway, apparently, is that he thinks people shouldn’t try to be someone they’re not and promote ideas that they don’t actually believe in.
The piece also goes into why Thornton refuses to direct any more films, but—much to his delight, probably—that stuff isn’t quite as interesting as his band or My Little Pony. (He’s sick of being rejected by studios, basically.)