It seems like forever since I’ve done an interview, but what better way to start back than by doing one with David Crane–the main man behind BOAT? They just released “Songs You Might Not Like” and will be playing an instudio on KEXP on August 4th at 12PM PST. They also ran a contest to pick a song to cover on KEXP. The winner will be announced live on KEXP when their song choice gets covered!
YANP: Let’s start with the title. Why “Songs That You Might Not Like?” Isn’t that a little self-depreciative?
DC: Songs That You Might Not Like seemed like the truth. Up until this album we had only released our songs to friends and family and there was some apprehension about releasing our music to a larger audience. We really saw it as here are some songs….hopefully you like them….but maybe you won’t. It kind of encapsulates what we were feeling as this basement band to being a little more heard by a few more people.
One of the first things about the album that grabbed me was the candor in “Clogged Castle.” Later, I realized that the entire album seems to be tied to–what I assume are–your real life events. Which songs might follow in this vein of personal songs?
All the songs have personal connections to my life. But they are often contained within images. I am a big daydreamer and I my favorite thing to do is sit and draw cartoons and drink Diet soda on the couch. The songs are like cartoons of real life. Clogged Castle is one of those songs. A lot of the songs represent childhood stuff. But I guess a lot of them deal with stuff that is going on now too. To me the music helps me filter out the feelings that I can’t get out any other way. It is an outlet for my brain. I teach sixth grade and kind of feel like I have the mind/attention span of a sixth grader….I think some of the music reflects that. Every song has a personal story behind it. I think that is why there is apprehension in sharing the songs with people I don’t personally know.
Does it feel weird to talk about such personal events on what is essentially a pop album?
To me a pop song should be memorable. To remember lyrics to a song I need to be able to imagine it like a story. So, the songs are personal stories. Some have metaphors and similes but they are true stories…at least in my brain. I don’t think I could write a song with no meaning to me. I wouldn’t remember it long enough to record it. The best songs have meaning behind them at least to the writer……right?
What events lead to your desire to first begin writing, recording and performing music? How has BOAT changed since its “birth” until the entity that it is now?
This is a long story. You may want to use the scroll bar.
I moved to Chicago after college to teach 7th and 8th grade at a very troubled school on the South Side as part of a program called Teach For America. It was a very stressful, crazy , eye opening time. Music became my way of getting out emotions that I couldn’t get out at school. I would write down phrases that came to me and song titles on little slips of paper at school during the state mandated silent reading time.
I had a little 4 track at home, that I had when I grew up in Seattle and started just trying to make up songs and pieces of songs. I used to spend the nights with a burrito a Diet Coke and my 4 track….when I wasn’t coming up with lesson plans. I bought a drum set out of the paper and began spending most of my free time in the living room.
After a year in Chicago, I moved back to Seattle and decided I would try and make a homemade album in the basement. I had all of these tapes with little parts of songs. I also had CDs my roommate (Z. Duffy—a future BOAT member) had recorded of little jams and stuff we had played together. I had a bunch of half functioning keyboards and a lot of time. It was hard to find a teaching job here so I took a job with this counseling type program and had a lot of free time. My girlfriend—now wife worked nights so I would spend like 6 hours every night playing songs and making up little parts and singing to them. I had a hard time cobbling them together into songs but I did.
Eventually, I made an album called Comic Book Rock. I sent it to a couple friends and thought that was it. The couple friends I gave it to thought we should try playing the songs live. I was surprised. I had never really played in a band before…so it was exciting. We called up this local bar. It is a pretty scary bar. The bartenders get drunk on the good nights. They didn’t even have many shows, but they had a PA. We asked if we could play. It was going to be a one time thing. They asked us back and then we started playing around locally and we would invite people who reviewed shows….kind of as a joke. We had a giant cardboard boat that we would hang as a backdrop.
I bought a better recording machine and we aimed to make an album as a band. This one we thought would be better because I wouldn’t be allowed to do very much drumming. My friends G. Miller and M. McKenzie would shape little ideas into whole songs. We used to have these times where we would get Taco Bell and then just go play for an hour and make three or four songs spontaneously. Most of the songs came very quickly. When we played our third show in Tacoma, WA we had all these new songs. Eventually, back at this dive bar in Seattle, Sean from Tullycraft and one of the Three Imaginary Girls (www.threeimaginarygirls.com) came out and saw us. They liked us and there friends started coming to our shows. I think they burned it for some people. We were pretty excited.
We played a couple more shows and people would be singing the words back to us. We sold about 200 of this homemade album called “Life is a Shipwreck.” Sean from Tullycraft gave it to Curt at Magic Marker and we started playing more shows. We made an EP called “After All.” We sold about 100 copies of that.
Curt from Magic Marker approached us about releasing a proper record and including some old songs (from Shipwreck and After All) and some new songs that we had for the next release. We spent a couple months and weekends creating the album in our basement and a drywall warehouse on Capitol Hill in Seattle. This is the first album we used more than one microphone at a time.
“Free the Birds in the Stall” contains the line ‘we were tired of the bands that were going around.” Who are some such bands? Who would you be happy to never hear for the rest of your life?
Hmmm. I am tired of bands where they play so loud you can’t hear the words. I also think that other than the Wolf Parade (who are amazing) any band with Wolf in their name should have to sell all of their musical equipment.
What does the next few months hold for BOAT?
We are playing some cool Seattle shows in the coming weeks. Friday July 28th we are playing the Capitol Hill Block Party with a ton of bands. Some bands we really like are also playing…..Band of Horses, Pretty Girls Make Graves, and Ladyhawk so we are all excited to see those bands.
We are playing two radio stations in one day (KEXP and KNDD a local station) on August 4th.
And we are doing a record release show with Tullycraft and a great pop band from Vancouver, BC called the Salteens on August 5th.
We also are opening for Maritime in September at a very cool all ages venue.
We hope to record five songs for a homemade single called “Base the Money on the Children,” at the end of August. It will be our second in a series of homemade limited edition singles. We are going to make 100 and sell 50 at shows and 50 on our website. Five new songs. Our last single, we only made 50 and sold out pretty quick.
J. Goodman and I are teaching again in the fall. He teaches 4th grade and I teach 6th, but we hope to set up a few short tours. We really want to play the Midwest and the East. We had to postpone dreams of the Athens Pop Fest in August, because J. Goodman is getting his masters in teaching.
The whole band would love to do more touring. We are hoping to take some long weekends and some breaks from school. The sick days are there but we’ll probably have to save the big tours for the summer.