Boats! bass-player and blogger extraordinaire David Hayden’s MySpace post about friend-of-a-friending his way into a hip party and meeting Green Day’s Tre Cool — who said Hayden looked like David Archuleta — is an exciting read. (Hell, that was the reason he got into punk in the first place — “you could actually meet the bands and socialize better,” Hayden says. And it seemed “less fake.”) But Hayden knows, even at 23, that you can’t try to be punk, and that’s obvious from his rambling tour stories. The blog post about last year’s basement show in Albany, New York, for example, is memorable mostly for the punker-than-thou pyromaniacs that wouldn’t stop firing bottle rockets at Boats! from the audience.
“They gave me shit how it wasn’t punk of us to stop playing,” Hayden writes. “Fuck that, it was more punk to stop playing.”
That story won’t win them any street cred, just like drifting aimlessly in a veritable sea of bands named Boats — The Boat Band (British Zydeco), Boat (Seattle indie rock), Boats!! (Canadian indie rock with two exclamation points) – won’t Google them out of 7-inch obscurity (half the time interviewers email the wrong band). But it does go to show how refreshingly fine they are with being punk for punk’s sake, for being themselves.
“Punk is just our music style,” Hayden says. “As for our lifestyle? Not so much. We all work normal jobs. We’re all pretty big hermits when we’re at home from tour. But as far as music goes … I can’t stand … heavy-metal riffs. Punk is just simple and poppy. Anyone can play it.”
Except, of course, those who can’t: The reason the Sacramento trio, which sounds similar to the Urinals, the Clorox Girls, the Ramones, and probably every group of three-chord savants ever formed, recently decided to stay a trio?
All of their friends were too good on lead guitar.
“You don’t have to be amazing, or know how to melt faces … to be catchy,” Hayden says.
In only their second year together, the hook-savvy, tour-happy band is finger-painting its way to precocious popularity not only in its hometown (nominated for Best Punk Band in this year’s Sacramento Area Music Awards) but almost every major-ish American city not named Albany.
You can feel it in the unpretentious punctuation of their name: What Boats! lacks in musicianship is more than made up for with the sincerity of youth.
“We just enjoy touring and putting records out,” Hayden says. “We’re not really worried about our coolness.”
Take “Porno,” one of the longest (almost 2 minutes!) and most popular songs from their 2007 self-titled, self-released CD; when 23-year-old singer-guitarist Matt Leonardo whines, “I grew a mustache! I grew a mustache! I grew a mustache for you!,” he isn’t celebrating the hipster’s ironic appropriation of the pornstache – he’s singing about his experience modeling for homoerotic art — the result of answering a Craigslist ad when he was in a classically punk-rock pinch for money.
“He just grew a mustache in the process,” Hayden says. “Kind of made it all the more
All the more punk, in other words, and all the more single exclamation point! All the more Boats! •