March 31, 2020

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Local musicians set sail anew after abandoning Boats

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Hut Hut, from left: Ian Ellis, drums; Louis Lévesque-Côté, bass; Rory Ellis, guitar; and Mat Klachefsky, guitar, vocals, keyboard.</p></p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Hut Hut, from left: Ian Ellis, drums; Louis Lévesque-Côté, bass; Rory Ellis, guitar; and Mat Klachefsky, guitar, vocals, keyboard.

After eight years and three albums, Winnipeg indie pop-rock group Boats played its last show in March 2016. 

A month later, most of the members of Boats re-emerged as a new band, Hut Hut, which began playing the occasional show. The group released its first full-length album, Hut Hut Hut, at the end of January.

For those confused about the quick rebranding, the explanation is simple: Boats was the full focus of the band members’ lives. Hut Hut is not. 

Frontman Mat Klachefsky, now a father of one with another on the way, picked up a new job that didn’t allow for as much of his time to be spent making music and touring. The rest of the band members were working on other musical projects, business enterprises (guitarist Louis Lévesque-Côté is the general manager of Café Postal in St. Boniface) and educational endeavours.

It became obvious it was the right time to wind things down, but the plan was never to stop entirely.

"I got a job that required more commitment than I was able to give to the band, so I had to switch my priorities," Klachefsky says. "We still wanted to make music, though. We just knew it wasn’t going to be at the same speed and the same level of dedication we were putting into Boats. 

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Hut Hut, from left: Rory Ellis, guitar; Mat Klachefsky, guitar, vocals, keyboard; Louis Lévesque-Côté, bass; and Ian Ellis, drums.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Hut Hut, from left: Rory Ellis, guitar; Mat Klachefsky, guitar, vocals, keyboard; Louis Lévesque-Côté, bass; and Ian Ellis, drums.

"It’s kind of a half-assed version of Boats," he says, laughing. "When I was doing Boats, that was my main focus, and now I’ve got a job and kids, too, so I can’t destroy my life as I did yearly for a band… there’s nothing wrong with just making music."

Hut Hut Hut’s sound and vibe is reminiscent of Boats — a little experimental but not unapproachable, with an excellent sense of humour in lyrics propelled by Klachefsky’s unmistakable vocals. This is more honed, refined and mature, though. 

"The three albums we put out as Boats, I was putting in as much as I could — there was no restraint — so for these songs, we said we’re just going to record them as we play them live. We’re not going to add a bunch of crap we’ll never be able to replicate live," Klachefsky says. "So I think that caused us to focus more on the songwriting and make the instrumentation as it is more interesting, rather than just adding, adding, adding."

Hut Hut Hut has been years in the making, a side effect of music no longer being the band members’ No. 1 priority. A few of the tracks and recordings have been in the bank since a 2013 artist residency in Banff, Alta., and the rest were written and recorded in Winnipeg whenever time allowed. 

Outside of the Winnipeg album release concert on Friday, Feb. 7, at the Good Will Social Club, there are no plans to tour the record. 

"The funny thing is that... I’m the one who decided I gotta focus on my job and my kids, but I can tour. I’d love to get on the road again, but it’s actually the band that can’t," Klachefsky says.

"They’ve been playing in other touring bands and they’ve been putting off their education and so they’ve put their foot down and said, ‘No more touring,’ so they can get on with their lives as well."

erin.lebar@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @NireRabel

Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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