Boat Show started off writing garage-punk songs about shitty people and shitty relationships. They wound up becoming reluctant and unassuming ambassadors for the empowerment of women, whilst in the process empowering themselves. The debut album for the Perth supergroup featuring members of Dream Rimmy, Gunns and Mosquito Coast, Groundbreaking Masterpiece, deals with morally bankrupt people and tells them where to shove it – in the most nonchalant and ironic of ways. LARA FOX chatted to singer Ali Flintoff ahead of the album’s launch at Mojos this Thursday, March 2, and the band playing City Limits alongside Jebediah, Gyroscope, Downsyde and more on Sunday, March 5.
How did the band come about?
I wanted to start a band that meant I could gig all the time as the other bands I was in were at a point where we were only playing once a month. I started writing really dreamy poppy stuff and we were jamming that and it was alright, but then I wrote a song venting about my ex and it was way more punky and we jammed that and it felt really good so we decided that we would stick with that.
What is the process for making Boat Show’s music?
I write it at home and make a demo and then I show all the girls – and boy – and we learn it and have a jam and that is basically it.
There’s four women in the Boat Show – was it important to you to get as many women involved as possible?
It was probably a subconscious thing. The only people I knew to be available, just happened to all be girls. Jenny started on drums and I was on guitar and then Jenny went away for a bit so we got George in on drums and it sounded and felt really great so we decided to stick with that.
At a time when alternative voices, women’s included, are being suppressed by the outcomes of patriarchy, do you think it is important for women to express themselves and stay loud?
Totally. Definitely for me, it has been really powerful. And the more we do it – play in a band and push these ideas out there – the more people will get used to it and hopefully it might help change things. I feel like I speak out more now, away from the band – just as myself, since Boat Show started. Being in a band like Boat Show is powerful for me and powerful for all the girls – it has made us a lot more confident. This is also because of the good reaction to the band and people liking what we are saying, it makes it easy for us to feel more powerful and confident. Hopefully we may inspire other women to do the same – to speak out.
Where does the name Boat Show come from?
The name just came to me. I wanted to start a band called Boat Show before I started the band. It comes from when I was young and I would always go with my family to boat shows and there would be all these huge super yachts and all this wealth – it was pretty gross. There would also be these women doing fashion parades of their merch and there were girls in bikinis everywhere, it was just really sexualised. So it is kind of a bit of a fuck you to that.
You are quoted as saying that the album has “lyrics about the scum of the earth” – who do you mean?
Yeah – I don’t know why I said that really. I guess because the lyrics are about really shitty people – people who are morally shit. 90% of the songs are about abusive exes and abusive guys – guys who can’t handle strong women. Guys who make women feel really small. There are also songs about girls who I have been disappointed in – just by the way they have gone about things. So – it’s not really scum of the earth. Just morally bankrupt people.
The album is laced in anarchist, feminist and political lyricism – especially new single Cis White Boy – in this way the album seems to have an agenda. Do you think it is important for music to have an agenda?
The album does have an agenda, but it wasn’t a conscious thing. All the lyrics are really inward and are about my own experiences – but I suppose as a collective it does come across as having an agenda – which is cool, I like that. It’s sending a message and that can never be a bad thing. I also think it is a good way, for people who are into writing lyrics, to get your shit out and send a message without it being boring or serious, because most of our stuff is kind of tongue in cheek. I feel like that’s a good way to make subjects approachable.
Your debut album is called Groundbreaking Masterpiece – is that a little tongue in cheek also?
Totally. Since we started the band, we have had a personal joke, because we thought we were just such a shitty garage band, before anyone was noticing us, so we would always joke around saying we were the best band in the world. After we started the Facebook page, we got a hundred likes and I started asking where our fucking Grammy was. It is just a complete piss take; we were just having fun with it and we still are. So the album is really just going along with that – I hope people get it. But I don’t really give a shit if they don’t.
From other interviews and the band’s Instagram feed it seems you tend to not take yourself too seriously and have quite the sense of humour – it seems like an anti-cool, anti-serious status – if you will – is it important to you to you to stay modest?
Definitely. I feel like as soon as you are not modest, it just becomes super lame and the vibe changes. Especially with social media and how you are seen on social media, it’s good to stay approachable. I feel it’s kind of boring when people just say the facts and that’s it. I have always been like that, it’s just my personality I guess, and all the girls in the band are like that so it works really well.
It’s quite refreshing as a spectator, because bands and creative people can often take themselves and their art really seriously…
Yeah – I feel like it just comes across a bit wanky when people are super serious.
The lyrics in the album, as well as the cover art, nod towards a defiance against normality and standard social expectations – is it important to you and the band to be a voice against these expectations?
Definitely. It is really cool because I never thought that I would be able to do that. It is super important for us to be like that – and since we have realised that people see us that way we have definitely taken on that role of “let’s try and make a change”. It’s really important to us to say to people “just fuck all the shit”. And anyway, it has really worked for us, it has empowered us, so we have thought, well, let’s just keep doing that and hopefully people will be scared of us or take us more seriously and who knows what effect it might have.
As the singer of Boat Show you have somewhat of a platform to voice your thoughts and opinions – if you could encapsulate what you would like to say to young women in a few words, what you would say to them?
I’d say – don’t let guys make you feel like shit, just because you are a girl. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel like you are unimportant or irrelevant – just because of your gender. If you stand up against that kind of behaviour, change will come. Also, hang out with a good crew. Hang out with good people and don’t take any shit.
How would Boat Show describe success?
I suppose success for us is just making killer music and hoping that people follow suit. For more women to start making music. Also, success would be people getting on board with what we are doing and saying – and hopefully there is not too much hate around it – because that is always possible. The best success though would be that people get on board with the message our music sends – that girls won’t take your shit.