Belfast's answer to Arcade Fire down tools for an encounter with the Fourth Estate. Click Play Audio for a podcast interview and exclusive track 'Johnny and Ruth Story'
The comparisons have been many and varied, the acclaim widespread, yet all this time, Boathouse have preferred, in the main, to keep themselves to themselves, recording a session for Across The Line before slinking back into the shadows to consolidate their fan base and perfect their sound on the live circuit.
With the release of the band’s long-awaited second EP, however, the time to initiate the PR offensive is nigh, and like all bands struggling to get themselves heard, Boathouse must learn to blow their own trumpets. So, first things first: who’s going to do the talking?
‘You’re the front man,’ claims Amy McGarrigle, nudging her band mate and fellow singer Gerry McCrudden. ‘Well, you’re the front woman,’ McCrudden retorts. If they weren’t such all-round amiable folk, I’d be inclined to think that this could be a very long day.
Following on from Trail of Ghosts (the band’s 2006 debut EP), What I Remember is the first recording of Boathouse songs featuring the current line-up of McCrudden (guitar/vocals/accordian), McGarrigle (guitar/vocals/glockenspiel), Keiran Hughes (guitar), Keir Hurley (drums) and Mickey McAuley (bass), accompanied by part-time Boathouse conspirator Dave Moore on trumpet.
In truth, the number of instruments featured on the recording are almost too numerous to mention, as anyone who has witnessed the Boathouse juggernaut live can testify. This eclecticism has led to inevitable comparisons with Canadian Indie favourites Arcade Fire, who have established something of a sonic monopoly on the accordion-accompanied rock sound.
Boathouse are honest enough to accept the similarity, but believe that their ‘the more, the merrier’ approach to instrumentation contributes to set them apart from their Northern Irish musical counterparts.
‘We’re influenced by a lot of modern American and Canadian music,’ says McCrudden. ‘It’s something we were worried about for a while, that perhaps our sound was a bit too eclectic, and that each song wasn’t tied in to the next. But from the feedback that we get from other people, it doesn’t seem to be the case.’
Audiences will be forgiven for experiencing a sense of déjà vu on hearing What I Remember. All five tracks are what McGarrigle describes as ‘Boathouse standards’, regulars on set lists for some time hence, like the trumpet-punctuated Johnny and Ruth Story.
Like a stoner soldier reporting for duty, however, Boathouse needed to get their past out of their system. Decamping to Blue Room Studios in Donaghadee, the band determined to capture their existing repertoire before moving on to their next.
‘We recorded the EP with [producer] Pete Pratt,’ says McGarrigle. ‘We’ve been playing these songs for a year, pretty much, but we wanted to record them as we hear them live.
'I think we've managed to record that live sound, thanks to Pete, who was fantastic. Getting these songs down gives us the room to move on and work on new material. We’re hoping not to leave it so long next time.’
With a date set for the EP launch party on May 29 at the Empire Music Hall, it’s finally full steam ahead for the captivating and courageous Boathouse.
‘It should be a really great night; we’ve got some great supporting bands,’ says McCrudden. ‘And we can’t wait for people to hear the EP.’
Undoubtedly one of Belfast’s most enthralling live acts, it’s sure to be a full house, so tickets, as they say, should be snapped up without delay. And if three-part harmonies and glockenspiel twinklings aren’t enough to satisfy your musical appetite – not to mention a spanking new EP to get your hands on – the band will also be road testing two new tracks for good measure.
If What I Remember is anything to go by, it's safe to assume that the future is bright, the future is Boathouse.