Mat Klachefsky definitely knows how to do things his own way. At 18, along with a group of friends, he started his own record label – even though he “didn’t really know what a record label was.” Now, 10 years later, the leader of Manitoba band Boats continues to call the shots. “I’m a bit of a dictator,” he admits. “That’s the only way I’ve ever been in bands. I’ve never been involved in the whole communal songwriting thing.”
Formed in 2007, this indie pop group consists of musicians handpicked by Klachefsky himself – Ashley Roch, Luke Bergen, Louis Levesque-Cote and Ryan McVeigh. The rest of Boats were found through various acquaintances Klachefsky had in the Winnipeg music scene. The band’s name was also his idea. “I wanted a nice small word that started with B,” he explains, “I’ve also spent a lot of time in boats. I’m actually a licensed fishing boat operator even though I’ve never been in a fishing boat.”
Though the band members may add a “flourish” to a song if they wish, Klachefsky handles most of the creative process. He is the main songwriter for the band, first recording all the parts in his basement and then teaching them to the other members. But even Klachefsky himself admits to being “lazy” about songwriting. “I haven’t written a song in a long time,” he said. “Almost a year.”
But lack of creative output does not translate in to lack of good material. Boats is a pop-driven act, the sound consisting of catchy guitar and synthesizer riffs backed by a heavy drum beat. The most striking aspect of their sound is Klachefsky’s voice, which is unusual but well-suited to the music. And with the imminent release of their second album Cannonballs, Cannonballs!, the sound has grown “more large sounding with better production — not as low-fi as the last [album],” Klachefsky explained.
Recorded at Prairie Recording Studios in Winnipeg, this sophomore release did not come without a price. “It took a lot longer than planned. For the last year I’ve been focused on getting the album done,” he said. “It was delayed and delayed and delayed… but I like the way it turned out.” Released on their own label, Majestic Triumph Records, Klachefsky hopes that this newest album will be the next step in their upward march towards success.
But the first steps involve touring, which Boats will be doing extensively in the upcoming weeks starting with their first show in the United States later this month. Though they’ve toured everywhere between “Vancouver and Montreal” this will be the first time most of them visit the United States. “We had a visa for South by Southwest [in Austin, Texas], so we figured we’d make it worth our while.”
Though he admits that showcase festivals like SXSW (which they have attended twice) don’t seem to generate any obvious response, he also enjoys Canadian festivals like Canadian Music Week in Toronto. “We get drowned out at SXSW, it’s too big but we’ve had luck in Canada,” Klachefsky explained. “But if I could tour all year “round, I would.”
The upcoming tour will bring many new experiences for the members. “We’re going to places that we’ve never been … I don’t think any of them have been to New York City before. We probably won’t have time to actually see the city,” he explained before adding with melancholic optimism, “We’ll play a show though!”
Boats will be playing Casa Del Popolo March 15.