Boats!: Hey, hey, hey, bon voyage
Boats! tour circles around most local bands, but not in upstate New York
Before any interviews went down, Boats! wanted to clear up certain rumors and misunderstandings that have been following them around. It’s not that the Sacramento-based punk trio is some kind of narcissistic image tyrant, they’ve just received some skewed portrayals in recent printed articles in certain daily papers. Guitarist Matt Leonardo, bassist David Hayden and drummer Jeff Melendez took me aside after a recent R5 Records set to set their record straight:
1. The band name is Boats!, with just one exclamation mark. Got it?
There’s Boats, the Boats, even Boats!!, the latter band I accidentally contacted about doing this interview (and apparently had the name first, although why the hell would two exclamation marks be part of your name; do boats get you that hyped?).
2. Boats! does not play “pusscore.”
Just for a laugh, the band members once got a family portrait of them taken at Sears. The photo has them against a white backdrop, and they’re wearing white clothes, flowers, big smiles and warm hugs. It’s friggin’ adorable.
They had no idea, however, that that picture would end up getting used pretty much every time someone wrote about them in print. “We look pretty lame,” bassist Hayden says. “I can totally see why so many people consider us pusscore.”
3. Boats! isn’t all about money.
Cash is not the driving factor in Boats!, despite the impression you’d get after reading their Sacramento Bee interview last summer. Income to cover touring and recording expenses—and maybe some food scrilla—is all the band wants. They didn’t start the band with the idea that they’d make a lot of money, as stated in said interview.
4. Boats! does stuff.
Rumors dispelled, Boats! are setting their sights forward: They have a Canadian tour lined up in August and a full U.S. tour this fall. Their new EP, Summer Vacation, also will drop this summer, distributed here by May Cause Dizziness Records and in the United Kingdom by No Front Teeth Records.
Leonardo is forthright in discussing how he wrote songs for the new record: “I’ll listen to a ton of Clorox Girls, Black Dahlias and Autistic Youth, then stop listening to them for a while. Then I’ll sit down and play something that sounds like that, but put different words over it, and that’s how Boats! songs get written.”
5. Boats! will draw the line—and that line is somewhere in upstate New York.
While they are psyched on the new release, touring has always been what drives Boats! They’ve already logged tens of thousands of miles and have the stories to prove it.
“We can’t go back to Albany,” Hayden explains. The story goes: Last summer, the day after the Fourth of July, a road-weary and mildly apathetic Boats! arrived in Albany to play at some locals’ party.
“They were pretty nice, but a little too crazy for us,” Leonardo continues. The dude from the door handed Boats! a wad of cash while they set up. Cool.
“[Then] we start playing, and the crowd starts shooting fireworks at us!” Leonardo recalls.
Not really down to catch a Roman candle to the face, Leonardo told the crowd to stop, otherwise they’d stop playing. “They told us ‘Fuck you, we’re punk rock from upstate! San Francisco is that way, fags!’” he says. It was just too nuts, so Boats! stopped playing.
“They still shot fireworks at us while we loaded up our stuff,” he says.
The band desperately tried to get organized and leave before the door manager came back looking for his money. But sure enough, a fat, sweaty, inebriated dude approached wielding a baseball bat. But after muscling Leonardo out of the money, the doorman then threw Hayden on the hood of the van and tried to make out with him.
The drunken crowd sang the chorus to “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” as the band sped away. “Some people from there even left us some comments on MySpace saying, ‘Hey, you guys should totally come back to Albany … not!!!’” Hayden laughs.
Wait, was that three exclamation marks?