Boats set sail for Calgary

When talking to indie bands in Canada, it’s always interesting to hear how supportive the local communities are. Neighbourhoods can play such an important role in the development of a band and, obviously, some are more conducive to development than others. Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto are all seen as Meccas of indie music in Canada but Boats frontman Mat Klachefsky provides glimmering insights into a new contender — Winnipeg.

“It’s horrendously supportive. It’s gargantuanly supportive. It’s probably the most supportive thing ever,” says Klachefsky. “We were just talking about this earlier, because people say, ‘Yah, the Toronto music scene is really competitive.’ The words ‘competitive’ and ‘music scene’ don’t really make sense to Winnipeggers because everyone just does everything together.”

Despite their affection for the former home of the NHL Jets, the gregarious Winnipeggers have decided to hit the road. They are touring their latest album, Cannonball, Cannonball, all over Canada and finishing up with two quick stops in New York.

The album has already received critical acclaim. The use of a 20-person chorus and strong instrumental diversity reminds listeners of Los Campesinos while solid song compositions and vocal style scream of a more nasal Neutral Milk Hotel.

Though touring is often an invaluable and enjoyable experience for most bands, living out of a van for six weeks can obviously be quite arduous. Boats have it worse than most bands. In order to reproduce the big sound they bring to the studio, they have to cram their five members into a van with 17 instruments. Yes, 17.

“We’re a sound guy’s nightmare,” admits Klachefsky. “Sound guys hate us because we have so much junk on stage that we use for one note, and then we put it down and never use it again. Attention to detail is very important though.”

During the interview, Klachefsky and the band were in Winnipeg eating lunch together. It took them three minutes and some debate to arrive at the number 17 and Klachefsky insisted the figure was only an estimate.

How does a band accrue a collection so large? It probably has something to do with the frontman’s song writing style.

“I find that I’ll go somewhere and find a weird instrument and then write a song with that instrument,” he says. “That’s kind of becoming how I write songs and it’s very expensive. I’ve got to buy new instruments and record songs. I have all these useless instruments that can only be used on one song.”

A singing saw was recently added to the evergrowing list. For those who don’t know, a singing saw is a regular old saw — yes, the kind you use to cut wood — that musicians play with a mallet or a bow. It sounds like a theremin — clearly a must-have for any aspiring indie band.

Klachefsky is currently deciding if Twitter is another must-have. Though typically used as a way to communicate and share ideas with fans, he has other ideas.

“I just got a Twitter, but I’m not sure if I’m pro-Twitter yet. I can tell people what’s going on on the toilet, which is kind of what we are going to use it for,” he says. “We’re going to have a toilet locator report. When we are on tour you are going to be able to tell what toilet we are using and whether it’s a weird truck stop or a venue.”

This may seem like a joke but it’s simply in character for Klachefsky, considering he earlier recounted a story about setting band mate Ashley Roch’s personal belongings on fire.

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