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Q & A with Mat Klachefsky of Boats

Today, I'm excited to welcome singer/songwriter Mat Klachefsky of Boats for an interview about his music and his area of the world ~ Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. This is my first music interview with a non-Memphis band, but this will hopefully relate back to Memphis since I think I've convinced Mat to play in Memphis when the time comes. Thanks Mat for being so gracious! I'll post the Graphic Guide mentioned in the album review after this crazy week.

If I've learned anything about touring, it's that the best shows are often the ones you don't expect. There are little pockets of awesome everywhere in the world, so one needs to figure out some sort of mathematical equation to be a part of one of these pockets at the right time.
~Mat about selecting cities for the next U.S. Boats tour.

Is Boats your first endeavor into music?
Yes, but I've been doing it for a while now. I was writing songs and playing around town sporadically as "Boat" since 2001, and when we put out our first record in 2007 we kind of solidified the lineup and changed the name to Boats.

Your latest album Cannonballs, Cannonballs almost plays like a movie soundtrack especially with the music running seamlessly from one song to the next. Do these songs connect into one story or still meant to be separate stories?
The songs are pretty independent of each other. I'm not into concept albums, I feel like when an artist plots out from the beginning what is going to happen something that should occur naturally is lost. These are just a bunch of songs. If they feel like they link up, then rad for us! But it's a total accident.

Can you explain where these stories originated from? Were they inspired from your childhood experiences?
I'd like to say that the songs were inspired by childhood experiences, but actually looking at them individually I'm not so sure. Every job I've ever had has been working with kids, and I spent 8 years working and living at summer camps for up to 5 months out of the year. I'd like to think that this has severely skewed my maturity... in many ways my "childhood experiences" could be from last week and I'm 28.

“Chrome Eyelids” has to be my personal favorite from the new album. I’m intrigued with the title. Can you explain what “chrome eyelids” are?
They are new eyelids you can buy to make your dreams more awesome.

With so many reviews heralding your music as having the kind of fun and energy suitable for kids, have you ever played a kid’s audience? Would you want to?
The short answer is no. I've done children's entertainment, I did birthday parties as a wacky scientist among other things, and not that I didn't enjoy those jobs, but Boats is my time off. I'm also scared that I would start swearing on stage, as I often do when I get excited. On top of that, the subject matter of the lyrics aren't appropriate I'd like to think; one song mentions cigarettes! In conclusion: I write songs for adults, but I'm a pretty sad excuse for an adult.

Where did you grow up?
I spent my elementary school years in North Vancouver, BC. It was awesome! There were so many hidden creeks to play in. Sometimes we put slugs in plastic bags and threw them in the river.

You currently live in Winnipeg. Can you briefly summarize it for us?
There is a great "docu-fantasy" by Guy Maddin called "My Winnipeg." I think it captures the city quite well. It's depressing, mysterious and subtley magical in ways that the locals have lost interest in. Also: one can never, ever leave. Even if they desperately want to.

What’s the music scene like in Winnipeg?
I never have a good answer for this, but I can tell you the local bands I like. Ian LaRue & The Condor, The Paperbacks, The Cannon Bros, Not Animals and Haunter.

Would you consider writing music for movies?

Sure! Hell, I'll write songs for deodorant commercials if I was asked (just maybe not under the Boats name). The reality of being a musician these days is that no one is going to be quitting their day job, and with touring usually that day job is something that you get hired for with the secret intention of quitting a few months later. So these jobs are shitty. So if I can make money while writing crappy music to fund writing music I like then I don't see a problem with that. Is that selling out? Does anyone care about that anymore?

I don’t see your band as a band that would cover songs but if you were to cover a song what would it be?

Anything by Mclusky.

It seems you do well making music with thrift store instruments which I take is not from choice but lack of funds. If you get bigger and have more to spend on new instruments, how will that change your sound or music if it changes it at all?
We'd have the same instruments, we'd just have more of them and hard-shell cases so they don't break. I buy everything from thrift stores and I am very proud of the finds I have accrued.

In an acoustic show, what makes up the band’s instrumentation? {See video of an acoustic performance from Boats below.}
Usually an acoustic guitar, the harmonium, and a glockenspiel.

Imaginary US tour ~ What’s your wish list of cities to play? {Boats has played the US before when stopping through for SXSW.}

1. Memphis
2. Portland, Oregon. I have some family there so I've spent some time in the area and it would be great to play there sometime.
3. Seattle
4. New York
5. Austin

However, if I've learned anything about touring, it's that the best shows are often the ones you don't expect. There are little pockets of awesome everywhere in the world, so one needs to figure out some sort of mathematical equation to be a part of one of these pockets at the right time. For example, we toured the US in March and our NYC show was pretty lousy. We played for 15 minutes to just my cousin. However... Minneapolis on a Wednesday night was the best show of the tour.

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Photos of Mat and Boats band members courtesy of Boats.


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