It doesn't take D. Crane long to write a song. "I have this room attached to the laundry room," says the singer/guitarist for Seattle band BOAT. "It's pretty small, but I have all the instruments that no one would want to play. Bad drums, bad guitar, everything that we don't keep in the practice space. I have the recorder there, and I just record bad versions of songs."
"He'll flesh out a song really quickly. It almost frustrates me," says BOAT drummer J. Long. "He'll be like, 'I'm gonna go into the back room and make a song.' Then he'll be back, seriously, like half an hour later—'Okay, I finished something.' Like, that's crazy."
Crane (first name Dave) explains, "Everything's kind of first draft-ish, usually. For some reason they keep coming. I usually can do that over a weekend, like make four or five songs and then eventually we get up to a number where the guys will check out the ideas and figure out which ones we want to work with and which ones they're embarrassed of."
BOAT's latest batch of non-embarrassments is called Setting the Paces, which I'm tempted to call their most mature effort, if you can call an album that contains songs like "(Do the) Magic Centipede" and "You're Muscular" mature. It's a slightly more focused effort, with fewer between-song interludes than the wonderfully fractured Let's Drag Our Feet and Songs That You Might Not Like, their past two full-lengths for Portland-based label Magic Marker. But Paces still contains plenty of BOAT's trademark goofy-sweet pop-rock, driven by fired-up guitars, shouted choruses, and lyrics that actually sound like the way you talk. It's impossible to listen to Paces without a big, dopey grin plastered on your face—quite simply, there has never been a band that's as much fun as BOAT.
The bulk of the new record was recorded at Crane's home, which was dubbed Cat Escape Recording Company because his cats kept trying to run out of the house. Long (first name Jackson) oversaw the proceedings and finished the record off at Two Sticks, where he daylights as a producer and engineer. M. McKenzie (first name Mark) and J. Goodman (first name Josh) fill out the band on record, but as a live act, the configuration of BOAT changes depending on their location.
"It's usually who's available," explains Crane. "We'd love to have Josh be our full-time multi-instrumentalist guy, but he has two kids so a lot of times he can't go out of state for shows. So Ricky [Cancro] plays with us in Portland. He's one of our friends from the Galactic Heroes—they were another band on Magic Marker. He'll make up his own little parts on different instruments. But he also has a young son so he's kind of strapped down. And Zach Duffy is in Chicago; he meets us on the East Coast and Midwest, and he runs our website and stuff."
Instead of splintering the band, the revolving-door lineup keeps things spontaneous. "They almost can listen to the CD and learn the song and then just kind of show up," says Crane. "We'll tell them what to play through a sloppy email, and they'll figure it out."
Long adds, "Josh made a point, he's always thought of BOAT as—like, the reason some people like it—is it feels like anybody could just join the band and it's a band that anyone could make. It's that simple."