Boxer the Horse is riding high
Press play on Would You Please, the first full-length from Charlottetown's Boxer the Horse, and from the moment its first delightfully old-fashioned organ riff kicks into gear, it's hard not to find yourself playing the music geek's favourite party game: Spot the Influence.
The problem, though, is that in this case, Spot the Influence gets exhausting. You might start with The Kinks and Dylan---the most obvious antecedents---but soon you're joyously namedropping Pavement, Tom Petty and The Strokes and before you know it, it's like you're hearing the entire rock section of your record collection buried in the mix.
"We're all kind of aware there's that sort of thing going on," says vocalist-guitarist Jeremy Gaudet. "Sometimes a song calls for a Kinks-y style riff and we'll make a conscious effort to draw it in. But sometimes it's more unconscious. When we first started, we were getting all these comments about how much we sounded like Pavement, but we were just out of high school and barely knew them. But since then, we've become more aware of how they figure into our sound. So it's a bit of both."
It's an interesting moment to be chatting with Gaudet. His band, which hits the Seahorse this Friday, has quickly earned a regional reputation for its tight, spunky pop songs delivered with classic rock flair. But with Would You Please, released last month, the band is getting national attention for the first time. Presently, the record sits at number 11 on the national college campus chart, ahead of The Sadies and behind The Roots.
"It's crazy," says Gaudet, noting the increase in email alerts he's getting about new "fans" on the band's CBC Radio 3 profile. "College radio really helps us, because we haven't played much outside the Maritimes, other than a trip or two to North by Northeast. It's really great that people can hear your music all across Canada while we're just, you know, here in Charlottetown."
Ah yes, Charlottetown. Paradoxically, one could argue that Boxer the Horse's hometown is its biggest asset, and liability. The city's local scene---intimate and collaborative---has been key to the band's rapid success; that's Two Hours Traffic's Alec O'Hanley behind the dials on Would You Please, after all, and the album is released on Charlottetown's Collagen Rock Records.
"But we're on an island, and we're kind of separated from the rest of Canada," adds Gaudet. "And if you want to play a show to more than your friends and your local fanbase, you've got to travel four hours to Halifax. But it's a great scene...there's a lot of setting up together, playing together, listening to each other's records."
The other thing perhaps holding the band back from truly taking advantage of the attention: its members aren't done university yet. But all in due time; Gaudet says that come spring the band will see what it can do about touring nationally. And closer to home, it'll play to likely its biggest Halifax audience yet this October: It was announced this week that Boxer the Horse will be opening for The New Pornographers at their Halifax Pop Explosion show.
"It's awesome. We're pretty pumped. We're big fans, so it's great to get to open for a great band that you really admire."