Brisbane based quintet have proved themselves when it comes to diversity with modern day lyricism and a large dose of punchy passion, with no doubt their latest single Refugee and Shadows getting spun on Triple J’s Roots & All.
Boatkeeper is not reluctant in allowing you to dip yourself in to the feeling pool as their six track EP allows you to divulge in an array of emotions. From political and foreign affairs displayed through Refugee & Shadows, to a divergent arrangement of heartache, apathy & self-discovery following the remaining four tracks.
“We knew we had six very different sounding songs, having a folk, alternate, roots, folk rock, pop and another folk song. We wanted the EP to be diverse and not pigeon hole our genre. With the assistance of our producer, Govinda Doyle [Angus & Julia Stone, Pete Murray, Caravana Sun], we made each song with its own identity.”
The boys explain the EP in a break down below:
This song was inspired by camping trips that our crew of friends go on around Northern New South Wales. It usually involves surfing during the day and sitting around a fire at night telling stories. We are super lucky to live in such a free country where the opportunities to live freely and explore outdoors are endless. This song reflects this appreciation in the chorus, “Bless, bless this life. We’re free to roam.”
Musically, the intro riff was written six years ago with the band expanding down the track, creating layers of ambient sounds over the top. We experimented using an Ebow (electromagnetic string driver) on the guitar which you hear throughout. The backing vocals in the song are performed by our good friend Ingrid Piper who has a beautiful set of pipes. We were stoked that the studio piano was a 100-year-old piano that really suited the end of the song leading into the crescendo.
Lyrically, Shadows was inspired by watching a documentary on CIA whistle-blower – Edward Snowden. It explores the reality that everything can be watched by the government and the power they control.
The song includes a string staccato section that Jordan wrote on the Nord piano which is the hook line. James (drummer) lives in Newcastle so we sent through the rhythm section via email and within days he’d come up with the groove for the drums during the verse. This song was worked and re-worked various times before it was finalised only a week before it was recorded. It’s definitely one of the band’s favourite songs to play live because of the high intensity.
Refugee is the most important song lyrically on the record. It is the first time we that delved into the political side of music. It was inspired after Jordan and Boyd saw comedian (and refugee) Ahn Doh perform his stage show “The Happiest Refugee”. It was moving to hear all the great things that a man – who once was dangling by his feet by pirates – could achieve when given the opportunity. The ignorance of some Australians who continue to comment things like “f*** off we’re full” is something that as a band, we would like to change. By raising awareness on the topic, we think this can be achieved.
It was the last song created on the record. The crux of the song was written in half an hour after Ben brought the rhythm riff to a jam session. The lyrics were worked and worked and worked over various months as Boyd wanted to deliver a powerful message that evoked strong opinions. We wanted to keep the instruments basic in keep it as punchy and ‘rootsy’ as possible. Our producer Govinda Doyle played a huge role in this song, deconstructing and recreating what we were trying to achieve.
4. Peace in Me
Ben wrote the main part of the lyrics to this song whilst living in Austria. It was the first song he’d written so he was extremely anxious about letting people into his thoughts. In many ways, this sums up the song. It is based around self-discovery and how he felt about his own difficult experiences in life. The song explores the idea of self-improvement by eliminating self-doubt.
Musically, the rhythm part of the song was recorded with a 12-string guitar to give a fuller, warm tone. The Rhodes style piano was used as Jordan wanted to try something a little different. We were lucky enough to have good friend Byron Short feature on backing vocals during the hook line of the bridge, “one day I’ll find that peace in me.”
5. Still I Sing
The basis of this song started in 2011, jamming at a house in Brisbane. The song is centred around the guitar riff in the chorus and builds throughout, ending in a choir of voices which again features Byron Short. The song is intentionally heavily layered and features very organ sounds towards the back end of the song.
Still I Sing is very personal though contains a strong overarching message. Sometimes people will try and stop you from doing what you love however you need do what makes YOU feel alive and happy. The choir line “you won’t cut my tongue” is a band favourite off the EP and drives home the message being portrayed. Fun Fact: the line “what do you bring” was screamed by Boyd in the vocal booth while suffering from the flu. The intention was to sound as broken as possible.
6. So Much More
We wanted this track to sound as minimalist as possible. It’s definitely the song that ties the first EP “Windward” to “Vessels” by its acoustic, folk feel.
It’s another very personal song that highlights the importance of love, spirituality and emotions over material possessions.
The guitar used on this song was an old Dobro that belonged to our producer. It gives an old, rustic sound that really fitted the song.