Intercontinental champions return

Winnipeg’s Boats return triumphantly with a killer deal

For the third instalment of WWWH-at? Fast Forward Weekly ’s no-nonsense guide to the musical talent that swings through our lovely town we’ve stumbled upon Winnipeg’s Boats. We catch up with singer-bandleader Mat Klachefsky in Seattle where he’s staring down a Battlestar Galactica exhibit at the Experience Music Projects museum.

Boats? Who? Don’t confuse this with Stiff Records’ art-wave act Yachts DFA’s YACHT or even Seattle soul combo Boat. Nope — this is Kill Rock Stars’ Boats a gleeful run-around-the-house-and-punch-your-roommate-in-the-face sugar blast from Winnipeg. Still Boats isn’t just a lobotomized incantation to double rainbows.

“A lot of our lyrics are actually kind of depressing” says Klachefsky. “I’m not a very sparkly whimsical or precious person. Anyone who’s met me will agree.”

Exclaim! describes its sound as a “junk-shop orchestra.” What the hell is that? Simply put this is hyper-kinetic if straightforward noise pop made from any found music-making device available. It’s a sound that’s both patchwork and dense something that Klachefsky admits can be difficult to re-create live. “We’ve got five people and a few gadgets — a drum machine on top of the drums. It’d be nice to travel one day with a 15-person choir and go all Polyphonic Spree. But [now] we just turn everything up louder.”

Right. The name sounds familiar — where have I seen Boats perform? They’ve been around — aside from performing several showcases at SXSW Boats has played Calgary numerous times including a packed date at Broken City last fall and one of Sled Island’s headlining sets in 2008 where it performed with Broken Social Scene The Dodos and others.

“We love Calgary it’s one of our favourite places to play. Lots of people come out and they seem to enjoy it” he says. “At Sled Island we went to Tubby Dog at 4 a.m. and Ashley [Roch glockenspiel] totally ralphed all over the place.” And she’s not the first.

Reviews compare Cannonballs Cannonballs to everything from Unicorns to Los Campesinos to er the rustle of “crumpled wax paper.” Why such conflicting opinions? That’s because its sound gives critics fits. Some focus on Klachefsky’s cartoonish vocals; others hear the ’50s pop undertones of its debut Intercontinental Champion ; others still hear ’80s synth-pop painted with 2011-styled ADHD.

Cannonballs Cannonballs — originally released by Majestic Triumph but set for a summer physical re-release by Portland’s Kill Rock Stars — continues the trend. Pairing glock-driven energizers with stripped-down electro tracks it’s an eclectic brew that doesn’t struggle with coherency. Klachefsky for his part isn’t looking to editorialize it.

“I don’t like listening to stuff that sounds like every other band; the goal is to try to make music that nobody’s made yet” he says. “Whenever the border guards ask us we just tell them we play obnoxious noisy pop music.”

How does Klachefsky manage to sing so high? No he isn’t a castrati and no he doesn’t request helium on his band riders. “I don’t know” he laughs. “I just get high-pitched when I get excited. It’s how I’ve always sung.” We’re not sure if we believe him but his glass-shattering timbre needs be experienced to be believed.