Winnipeg’s Boats! are intent on staking their claim on the Boat.
BOATS! at the Boat (158 Augusta), Friday (August 22), 8 pm. $tba. 416-593-9218.
It's 8 pm on a Saturday night, and Boats, aka Mat Klachefsky, is fast asleep in the house where his band is about to play. I get his guitarist, Louis Levesque Cote, to wake him up, which he should have done anyway; the doors of the Waterloo home are about to open.
When Klachefsky grabs the phone, he apologizes, though it sounds like he's going to fall back into a deep slumber at any minute.
"I don't sleep well in vans, and we drove straight from Winnipeg," he explains. "So I haven't slept in 25 hours."
It's likely the Peg-city performer will be wide awake for his Toronto gig. Not only is the drive from the 'Loo much shorter than a trip across the Canadian Shield, but he's thrilled to be playing the Boat for the third time in the band's short career.
"We're claiming that venue," he jokes. "I've decided that if you play a place three times and you have the same name as that venue, then you can claim it as your own."
Playing the same bar multiple times does have its advantages. For one, it's easy to tell if your popularity has increased between gigs, and so far it seems as if more people are trekking to the Boat to see Boats.
It's easy to see why the band is drawing bigger and bigger crowds with every tour. Their hyper indie pop is wildly contagious, and watching Klachefsky deliver his odd, high-pitched vocals is fascinating. If you've seen Boats before, the set list might not be so different (they're still touring behind their 2007 debut, Intercontinental Champion), but you'll notice a number of different faces backing up Klachefsky.
"We had to change all the members," he says, explaining that his original lineup had other commitments that kept them from touring. "But I have a small army of people in Winnipeg who know the songs and are free to travel."
All the changes could be confusing to people who think Boats is a band. In the past, Klachefsky has promoted the idea that the project is a group rather than a solo act, but now he's not so sure.
"I think calling it a solo project undermines the work of the other band members, but at the same time, I'm a bit of dictator," he admits, adding that while he writes all the parts, he usually forgets them. "If they don't play what I told them to play, I don't really know."
Right now it doesn't matter who Boats are, since they're a cohesive unit on the road. When they get home, though, Klachefsky will get to work on writing his sophomore album, probably without the band.
So what sound can we expect the musician to experiment with post-tour?
"I'd call it majesty," he says, half-joking. "I'd say if there is a direction we're moving in, I'd call it majesty. There's more majesty. More epic crescendos. Yeah, other than that, it's mostly the same old, same old."