MONDAY JULY 24, 2017

No man is an island, but one man can sail a boat. Or Boats, as is the case for the Winnipeg indie rock band fronted and handled by Mat Klachefsky. While Boats’ latest album A Fairway Full of Miners (TORO review) is certainly a full-band affair, there’s no doubt its songs originated from one very particular, very active mind.

That mind does not have a wide-open mouth; Klachefsky is a man of few words, as we found in this interview conducted around Fairway’s release this past February. We talked briefly about Klachefsky’s habit of writing completely solo, his aversion to themes, and encounters with bears.

You write and demo all of Boats’ music yourself. I take it you have a band of quick learners.

Yes, very quick. Much quicker than I would ever be. And much better musicians than me.

Have their been a lot of lineup shifts between albums?

Aside from Ashley Roch, who’s still with us, the first album (Intercontinental Champion, 2007) was an entirely different lineup. Our lineup has been the same since Cannonballs, Cannonballs (2011), except we added Rory Ellis for Fairway.

Do you preface a new inclusion with something like, “Just so you know, I’ll be writing all the songs?”

That’s just the way I’ve always done it. That’s kinda how it’s done in Winnipeg: bands are often just one person’s thing, and they get others to sign on to it.

Why is that?

I dunno. I don’t even know if it’s true [laughs]. That’s just how I do things, because I don’t know how to jam, or make music “live” with someone else. If I was playing with someone and trying to come up with the right chords, it would take hours.

But did the band bring anything to the album that surprised you? In other words, does the final album sound drastically different than your original demos?

We were very meticulous in the actual recording, using the demo tracks as like a song Bible — everything had to be pretty much the way it was.

A couple songs on Fairway reference file formats — “Animated GIFs,” “Getting Worst.Jpeg.” Is internet usage meant to be a recurring theme?

I don’t think anything was meant to connect thematically, all songs were written as separate from the ones around them. I could never say there’s a concept.

Do you intentionally avoid repeating lyrical ideas or subjects, in that case?

If you start a song thinking, like, “This song is going to be about ... sports” you’ve diminished your approach.  

That said your albums aren’t exactly all over the place — they seem to follow at least a rough aesthetic outline that each song adheres to.

I took it song by song. I didn’t want to put one sound toward a whole album. I didn’t want a specific sound.

You worked for many years at a summer camp ...

That experience delayed my maturity a bit. I spent five months out of the year on an island with no one over 30, and your job is to, like ... build tree forts and jump in the lake.

Did you write music during those months?

The first two albums for sure. Not so much the new one.

Was music always present on the island? I certainly found that to be the case when I want to camp.

Sometimes, but that wasn’t always a good thing. A lot of terrible, annoying music, but sometimes good stuff, as well.

Considering the song title “Advice On Bears,” did you ever encounter a bear, and what advice would you have for those that do?

I found a bear in a fridge, once, inside the director’s cabin. I went inside and everything was dark except the fridge light so I thought he was cleaning it ... at night. I got closer and it was a bear. He took off. The song is about what they’ll always tell you at summer camp: bears are more afraid of you than you are of them. I’ve always thought that’s a good personal motto.

Boats will be performing during this year’s Canadian Music Fest - March 23, Rancho Relaxo @ 12 a.m.

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