coming to a major lame city near you!
By Sebastian Buzzalino
Despite its heyday being long gone, 924 Gilman is still the holiest of destinations for aspiring punk bands in Southern California. At its height in the late '80s and early '90s, the legendary all-ages venue saw bands like Operation Ivy, Green Day and Bad Religion grace its stage. While the venue may no longer have the same importance today, the weight of history still remains. Not for nothing, then, that when David Hayden, bassist for Sacramento, CA, powerpop/punk band Boats!, first played there, he got a nose bleed.
"Playing Gilman for the first time was super outrageously exciting. I got a bloody nose just based off being so anxious to be playing the Gilman where Green Day used to always play. It just had that feeling of them being there in the air," enthuses Hayden, "though it's not something you openly speak about at the Gilman (because of their policy to not book major-label acts). Though times have changed and faces and bands are all new, the scene and shows are still rad there."
But, being based in Southern California does not automatically mean that a pop punk group like Boats! will have an easy time recruiting a fan base. If anything, the scene is saturated, making it difficult for the almost three-year-old band to "sell out," as is so often complained about a scene that saw a huge commercial rise in the late '90s and early '00s.
"At least for Sacramento, if you play on a weekday, forget it. You're lucky if 5-10 kids show up," he explains. "Weekends are good, if there aren't a billion other good shows in Sacramento. Sacramento is a pretty favouritism kind of town: the kids follow the main punk bands, and if you have a show the same night as them, it's pretty much practice, which is why we prefer touring. It's just a whole lot more fun and exciting.
"We love coming to Canada," he continues, speaking of their upcoming west coast tour that will see them wind their way up in to the Pacific Northwest before coming to Alberta. "It's very exciting being in Canada. The people are way super nice and super supportive. All of the northwest is really good for us. Just from always touring up that way with Boats! and previous bands, it's a win/win: our shows have rarely ever had a bad turnout up there."
Hayden's bubbly excitement comes through in equal amounts regardless of the medium: over email, his responses are written in a flurry, as if he cannot wait to talk about Boats! or any other topic. His band's music, similarly, is a two-minute blast of powerpop/punk that exudes a young and almost innocent energy. It is the sound of possibility, of fun, of playing music because it is the best way to go through life. Their first video, for "My Mother Was Right," an impromptu project filmed entirely on an iPod Nano, is a perfect example of Boats!'s personality.
"It's very important we come off as a fun band. We don't want to come off as a cheesy band like blink-182 and talk about poopy diapers or something stupid like that. We just like to have fun and joke around, but we do mean business when it comes to releasing records and touring."
For now, though, there is no danger of Boats! becoming the next blink-182. While the young three-piece does spend most of their time touring and increasing their fan base, they still face significant challenges, especially in "some major lame cities," as Hayden puts it. Their next major goal, then, is to just hop on to bills with bigger bands and to play bigger venues, polishing their live chops. Until then, though, they will continue to wish, as their MySpace puts it, to tour with Hall and Oates.
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