You're playing at the Showbox on July 5, opening for the Cops and the Long Winters. That's a big room.
The Showbox is the biggest place we have ever played. We are bringing our friend Ricky up from Portland to make us a super, five-piece BOAT. We will have extra vocals, bell kits, tambourines, keyboards, and Ricky is going to add saxophone to several songs. More Clarence Clemons than Kenny G. Imagine if Clarence Clemons and Buddy Holly had a baby—it would look kind of like Ricky. We haven't decided yet if we will be making confetti for the show. My paper cutter needs to be sharpened. But we are only playing songs that we consider anthems.
Have you been using confetti at practices?
We have. It's actually quite a sight to behold. We have this drummer Jackson who's way into the confetti, and we'll get to the chorus and he'll go: "Shower me!" And he knows it's pretty horrible to say that to a group of guys. Just like, "Shower me!" So we've kind of trashed the room. We share it with a heavy-metal band.
Where do you practice?
Well, I used to live in a duplex on Beacon Hill and we'd play in the basement. We lived next to these drug dealers who were not going to call the cops for anything, so we got lucky. I think they were just selling weed. But people would pull up in front and they would go out with a bag and, like, put it through the window and take cash. It was so out in the open. One time we saw a gun—some guy flashed a gun in the kitchen. I think he was just messing with it. But we were always scared someone was going to come to our door thinking we were them. Anyway, this family moved in and we couldn't practice anymore, so we got this place down by the stadium, one of those practice-space buildings, which isn't very inspirational.
Your music seems very grounded in the wonder of being young.
Yeah, I guess so. We used to play in my basement with karaoke machines, just messing around. And then one time we called the Beacon Pub—I don't know if you're familiar, it's a pretty terrible bar on Beacon Hill. Not really dangerous, but it's a sadder bar. And we asked, "Could we have a show?" We thought it was the biggest thing ever. It was just so much joy to be able to play like a real band. And then, over time, playing with Harvey Danger or playing with the Long Winters—like, we listen to that on our own, on our way to work. And then on the weekend to get to go play with Harvey Danger? It's kind of magical. There's no way it could not be pretty glorious.
There seems to be an endless supply of happiness in your songs.
I'm not sure they are always happy. Most of the songs are usually caught up in images that have a certain positive identity or direct sentimental connection with me. Ice-cream trucks on Beacon Hill ("Period, Backslash, Colon"), bumming out my wife by eating the leftovers ("Last Cans of Paint"), worrying about dying, then feeling stupid about wasting time worrying about dying ("The Whistle Test"). I guess not all the songs are happy. But they are kind of like cartoons of what I am thinking about. And cartoons make you smile, even if they are kind of dark.
Why are there so many BOAT songs about history and punctuation and parts of speech?
Just from teaching that stuff to sixth graders day in and day out.
According to your MySpace page, BOAT sounds like: "Reptile boy vocals being sung in the same room with many guitars, a bass, two drum sets, a Wurlitzer, several keyboards, mediocre talent, fragile egos, some soft tacos, a piece of pizza, and several Diet Cokes." What are "reptile boy" vocals?
When I was little in New Jersey and walked to school, there was this bridge. And the kids who hung out there were kind of rough. They'd go down and look for anything living in the creek, and they'd just fuck with it. Like, if it was a turtle they'd throw rocks at it. And so one time I tried to save a turtle, and I ended up taking it out of the creek and bringing it up into the trees. So they called me reptile boy. Anyway, reptile boy vocals are about just going for it, even if your voice quavers or squeaks.
What's it like being creative and living in Tacoma simultaneously?
I like it because there's parking. You can park. You can get wherever you want. I mean, it's not cool, but there's more space. More privacy. There's not bands everywhere.
How was that pizza?
I usually get more.
BOAT play Sat July 5, Showbox at the Market, 8 pm, $16, 21+. With the Long Winters and the Cops.