Winnipeg indie-pop band Boats have been catching buzz through Canada over the course of the last few years. After a critically acclaimed debut album and a ton of touring (including stops in Toronto for NXNE), Boats are heading out again — this time in support of their newest album Cannonballs, Cannonballs.
I was a big fan of Intercontinental Champion, so the new album was one of my most anticipated Canadian releases of the year. Now that I’ve heard I can say this: totally worth the wait. On Cannonballs Boats aren’t so much as expanding as they are refining. All of the elements they introduced on their debut are here: sweeping pop melodies, gorgeous vocal melodies and layer after layer of sonic trinkets. I’m not the biggest fan when it comes to “orchestra-pop” so it takes a special band to get me excited about this stuff, and Boats do just that.
What seals the deal for me is Mat Klachefsky and his vocals/lyrics. Wonderfully absurd without going overboard, his songs maintain a sense of humour. It’s that light-hearted approach which, in my opinion, helps these guys side-step from being just another band in an over-crowded genre. Boats are so much more than that. Long story short, if you’re a fan of indie-rock and indie-pop you should be grabbing this record when Boats roll through your town.
I had the chance to throw some questions to Mat Klachefsky recently, and he was nice enough to answer them for TWM. While you’re reading the interview, why don’t you go ahead and stream the song Summercamp vs. The Fake Moustache off the new record now! And don’t forget to check the tour dates below the interview, so you can go see Boats play (and pick up your copy of the new album).
Stream: Summercamp vs. The Fake Moustache
Can we start with a quick history lesson on how the band came to be?
I started playing music around town as Boat in 2002, but shows were pretty rare as I lived and worked out of the city for 5 months of the year. During that time a lot of people came and went in the band. In 2006 we decided to put out a record and changed our name to Boats. The lineup has shifted a bit since then but now we are five strong.
For people who are fans of Intercontinental Champion — who maybe haven’t heard Cannonballs, Cannonballs yet — what can they expect from the new one when they grab the record at a show?
The first record was recorded pretty quickly with very little money, while for this one we got some funding which let us take our time with it. So every aspect was deliberated and agonized over until we got exactly what we wanted. The songs are in the same vein but the production is better.
And what about the live show? Any surprises up your sleeve at the upcoming shows?
There will be big surprises, so I can’t discuss it (Hint: we will play music and it will be awesome).
On the topic of the new album, some reviewers inevitably compare bands with a lot of members and instruments to the Arcade Fire. Do you get that a lot, and how do you feel about it?
I don’t think we get that a lot but when we do I suppose it’s OK. I totally dig the Arcade Fire’s music but if I could change one thing about them it would be to not take themselves so seriously. I can’t relate to music like that because I rarely take anything seriously, but I still like epic song structures similar to what Arcade Fire does. I just like making epic songs about trivial things.
Upon first glance, your lyrics can seem very abstract or absurd; at the same time, they’re almost always grounded in an emotional reality that the listener can easily connect with. Was that kind of balance something you set out to reach in your songs?
Busted! Maybe unconsciously though. Talking about lyrics makes me feel weird but secretly yes, I was trying to do that.
You featured an NES and SNES in your promo-photos. Are old video game systems like those an influence on your music?
Old video games are an influence on the tour van. We bring a NES and SNES on tour and play a lot. It’s like a travelling sleepover. Also, one of our keyboards sounds like an old Nintendo.
Speaking of which, what are some of your favorite games from that era?
Favorite games are currently RBI Baseball 2, Super Dodgeball, and Punch Out.
I noticed on your Facebook group some rumblings about vinyl, can we expect some in the near future?
I’m afraid we shit the bed on that one. Who knew Vinyl took 6-8 weeks to press?? But wait till you see the new T-Shirts!
Where are you looking forward to playing most on your upcoming tour?
I think we are all really excited to play in New York with Oh No Oh My. We’ve only played NYC once before and it was for 15 minutes to just my cousin. So now we’ll have a crowd and Oh No Oh My is a favorite amongst all of us. Also, a few of my favorite records of the last few years have been put out by Casiotone For The Painfully Alone so we’re very excited to join him in Ottawa. And we’re doing a bunch of shows with our friends Hot Panda. And I’ve never been to the Maritimes before so that’s very exciting as well. And Portland. And Seattle. And Halifax Pop Explosion. And everywhere else. We’re pumped.
Alright, last one is: What are you bringing along on tour to listen to?
Depends who is driving. I expect a lot of Blink 182 from Luke and Louis, as well as a bunch of bands I’ve never heard of. I also expect a lot of Casiotone and Oh No Oh My as well. I will probably watch a few seasons of something on my laptop, and some wrestling DVDs.
Aug. 20 @ Outside of Winnipeg, WINNIPEG
Sept. 9 @ U of Winnipeg Portage Commons, WINNIPEG
Sept. 16 @ O’Hanlon’s, REGINA
Sept. 17 @ Broken City, CALGARY
Sept. 19 @ The Royal Bar & Grill, NELSON, BC (w/ Hot Panda)
Sept. 21 @ Sunset Tavern, SEATTLE
Sept. 24 @ Berbati’s Pan, PORTLAND
Sept. 25 @ Railway Club, VANCOUVER (**Olio Festival)
Sept. 26 @ Neptoon Records, VANCOUVER (*in-store performance 2:30pm)
Sept. 27 @ Voodoo’s, PENTICTON, BC
Sept. 29 @ Haven Social Club, EDMONTON
Sept. 30 @ Amigo’s, SASKATOON
Oct. 2 @ The Lo Pub, WINNIPEG
Oct. 9 @ Raw Sugar Cafe, OTTAWA (w/ Casiotone for the Painfully Alone)
Oct. 10 @ Merchant Ale House, ST. CATHARINES (w/ Hot Panda)
Oct. 12 @ Horseshoe Tavern, TORONTO (w/ Hot Panda)
Oct. 13 @ The Mansion, KINGSTON (w/ Hot Panda)
Oct. 14 @ L’Agitee, QUEBEC CITY (w/ Hot Panda)
Oct. 15 @ Le Campus, RIMOUSKI, QC (w/ Hot Panda)
Oct. 16 @ The Capitol, FREDERICTON (w/ Hot Panda)
Oct. 17 @ Babba’s Lounge, CHARLOTTETOWN (w/ Hot Panda)
Oct. 18 @ Paramount Lounge, MONCTON (w/ Hot Panda)
Oct. 23 @ Company House, HALIFAX (**Halifax Pop Explosion)
Oct. 26 @ Casa Del Popolo, MONTREAL
Oct. 27 @ Union Hall, BROOKLYN
Oct. 28 @ Piano’s, NEW YORK CITY (w/ Oh No Oh My)
Photo used via. Flickr user paperandglue/Creative Commons