Brutal honesty, gentle instrumentation, and 10,000 volts of emotion to the heart. That’s a solid summation of Spokane, WA-based emo trio Boat Race Weekend. If you are unfamiliar with the band and/or have yet to hear their sweet, melodic tones, let us give you a quick history:
Boat Race Weekend released their debut album, The Talisman, in March 2015, which saw some migty success and was featured on Indie Rock Cafe’s “Best DIY Music of 2015”. Shortly thereafter, the band’s live energetic performances earned them a place on Music Connection’s “Hot Live and Unsigned Bands of 2015,” as they continued to play around Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.
Fast-forward to the present: Boat Race Weekend has just released their new masterpiece EP Throw Your Head to the World!, which was recorded in rural Rathdrum, ID and was produced by The Ongoing Concept’s Dawson Scholz.
And as the band grew, so did their musicality. Newly solidified haunting melodies, gut-wrenching honesty, and driving emotional concepts mark the core of Throw Your Head to the World!, which has garnered them high respect in press outlets such as The LP Collective, New Noise Magazine, and idobi Radio.
I had the immense pleasure of chatting briefly with Boat Race Weekend’s frontman, Evan Kruschke, about a multitude of things: his musical background, the Spokane punk scene, a potential upcoming tour, and some of the finer details of the album.
Ouch That Hertz!: Hey, Evan! So, firstly, why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?
Evan: Hey there! My name is Evan Kruschke and I am the lead singer/guitarist of Boat Race Weekend. I currently live with my best friends in Spokane, WA and am working on my Master’s Degree in School Counseling at Gonzaga University.
OTH!: So, Evan, how did BRW come to be? I noticed that your band bio states that y’all were friends prior to the formation of the band. What’s the history of your band and who initiated the idea of coming together as a band?
Evan: So I grew up in the Tri-Cities with the rest of the fellas. Jay and I have been best friends since kindergarten, and all three of us have been great friends since high school. Jay and I have always dreamed of being in a band together since we were little kids. We started a band in 7th grade called Whizz*Bang! in middle school, and continued to jam together throughout high school. When we all ended up at Gonzaga together, for some reason the dream sort of fizzled out. I ended up studying abroad in Italy fall semester of my Junior year. I befriended a local bar owner there and ended up playing a few acoustic shows around Italy. That is what sparked my desire in performing music again. When I got back to the States, someone had heard I played in Italy and asked me to play a local campus event. I asked Jay and Collin, they said yes and we learned like 10 covers in a week. Things just took off from there. We rediscovered how much fun it was playing with each other again, and we went from playing house party covers to writing our own stuff.
OTH!: I’ve noted that you accredit bands such as Blink-182, Brand New, and The Gaslight Anthem to your list of musical influences. I’m curious, what was the defining moment that made you realize that you wanted to front an Emo band?
Evan: Man, honestly we didn’t even know what “Emo” music really was when we started writing. We just knew the bands we liked. We kind of just wrote our shit, and then we really got more into listening to Emo music and discovered, “Hey guys, I guess we’re an Emo band.” It’s really difficult to tell people unfamiliar with the genre that we are an Emo band, because for most laypeople, the term still conjures up images of eyeliner and dyed black hair in our faces. Nothing against that, but if you have seen us, that is the farthest thing from us. I have always just been a huge fan of the emotional lyrics and delivery of emo music. So to answer your question, there was not really a defining moment, it happened really gradually.
OTH!: I’m so jealous that you’re perfectly located in Spokane, WA. There’s been quite a few excellent new bands that come out of that area of the Pacific Northwest (albeit,I’m mostly familiar with the metal from that area). I’m also aware that it’s a great touring punk scene with some really interesting venues, such as The Big Dipper, The Knitting Factory, and The Pin. What’s it like coming from an area with such high standards and quality? Does it ever become exhausting or intimidating, or is it all sort of like one big thrill-seeking adventure?
Evan: Dude, Spokane is awesome. It gets flak for not being Seattle or Portland but we love it here. There is a ton of punk and metal here, and that was tough at first. There was virtually no emo or pop-punk bands here. That being said, all the venue owners and bookers in the area were amazingly supportive of us. Even though we weren’t playing with band that fit our style, we were still super lucky to get shows at all. Eventually we just got our name out there and played enough shows that when bigger touring packages came through, we would get the call. Now there are definitely some more bands in our genre coming up, and it’s refreshing. Dan and Dawson Hoerner that own the Big Dipper have been huge supporters of ours, even when we were tiny and shitty. They let us play their venue when no one knew who we were. Ryan Levy, who books amazing shows at the Pin, is also a good friend who is so great at getting us shows. It’s just an amazingly supportive community. We try not to think of standards, we just try and go out there every night, having fun and playing like it’s our last show.
OTH!: While we’re touching on the Spokane music scene, I have a favor to ask of you: can you recommend to us any local bands that are super dope but often overlooked?
Evan: Oh hell ya. Our buddies in Griffey put out some dope emo music. The Bight is also a great one. Ragtag Romantics are an amazing ska band coming up. They are crazy talented, they absolutely put us to shame.
OTH!: Let’s talk a bit about your music. I just watched your music video for “Broken Teeth,” off of your recently released EP Throw Your Head to the World! I have to say that I absolutely loved how you incorporated elements of classic dancing into it. I think it’s a style that’s been largely abandoned by most alternative bands (in part, I think, because people are unreasonably afraid that the two wouldn’t mesh well together). What made you want to include traditional dancing in a music video for an Emo song?
Evan: All of us have always really loved classic and modern/interpretive dance in music videos. God Wolf’s “Alone” was the first time we saw this idea in a music video and took notice of how cool it was. Although it is an EDM video, the idea of it really caught our eye. Gaslight Anthem did a video in which there was an interpretive dance element, and just recently the band Foxing did a video for “Night Channels” that I absolutely loved. The capacity for emotion and emotion conveyed by dance is incredible, and I think it fits really well with the emotion [that] lyrics present in emo music.
OTH!: That being said, how was working with Dawson Scholz in both the studio (as a producer) and as a videographer/director? How did you come in contact with him?
Evan: Oh, Dawson is the man. I still remember I was in a Starbucks parking lot and my friend was like, “Dude, have you ever heard of The Ongoing Concept?” He had just seen them live. I had not heard of them and he pulled up the music video of “Saloon” and showed me right there in the parking lot. I was so amped [that] I went right home and showed the fellas. We did some research, found out he was friends with some bands we had grown to know throughout Spokane. We found out he had a studio, we loved his stuff, and a few months later we were recording with him! He is just the nicest and most talented dude. It was cool, recording with him in his tiny hometown of Rathdrum. We actually finished recording before we had ever seen TOC live, so we only knew Dawson as this humble, soft spoken guy. Then we saw him on stage, which he just absolutely tears apart, and we are just like, “Wow”. He is an awesome guy and we’re stoked we got to work with and hopefully work with him again soon.
OTH!: I’d like to segue to your latest EP, Throw Your Head to the World! You just released this a few days ago and I’ve noticed it picking up some rightfully deserved love from outlets such as New Noise Magazine, the LP Collective, and many others. What I really loved about it was your approach to songwriting, in that your heartfelt drive and honesty is so vividly apparent throughout these four tracks. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of writing this EP?
Evan: Thanks so much, dude. The support for this EP has been tremendous and we’ve been taken aback by all the positive support. Genuineness and honesty is always something I have been attracted to in lyrics. Myself, as a lyricist, and us as a band never want to be fake or forced, because fans can sense that shit from a mile away, and it is so much less rewarding personally. Typically, I write the lyrics and put them to acoustic guitar, pretty bare bones. I then take my idea to the boys, we work on it, and it comes out better than I had imagined. It’s a blessing to have bandmates who I can take my music to, and help me turn it into something we can all be proud of. We are all liked-minded and we all trust each other completely, so if one of us says, “Hey, let’s try this here”, we are able to roll with it. On the same hand, if one of us think something isn’t working with a part or instrumentation of a song, we respect each other enough to say so, and not have any drama ensue.
OTH!: I’m curious, what’s the idea behind the title of the EP?
Evan: The title comes from a line in Dave Egger’s You Shall Know Our Velocity! It speaks to ridding yourself of any negative emotions that prevent you from living a productive life. I believe I am living my most productive life when I am acting in service to others. I want my words and actions to help you out, because I believe that you can do the same for me. We’re all in this shit together. Different people and situations, but many of the same struggles. Why not share them and help each other out?
OTH!: I noticed a major shift between TYHTTW and your previous album The Talisman– mainly that, while there’s a similarity in the songwriting (both lyrical and instrumental), TYHTTW seems like it’s got a much more directed approach to its emotional capacities. What was different for you in writing this EP compared to the last one?
Evan: I feel like with The Talisman, we were still young and didn’t know what kind of band we were. Were we a pop-punk band or a feel-good 90’s type band? I have always leaned towards the emotional elements in music, and so I think we were always headed in that direction even if we didn’t realize it. We all grew up a bit, and matured in our abilities and approach and sound. We found our sound and just rolled with it. I really wanted to focus on tones and making our three-piece sound as full as possible.
OTH!: So, with your new EP out and a new music video for “Broken Teeth” to match, can fans and listeners expect a tour of some sort from y’all? What’s next for Boat Race Weekend?
Evan: We are planning a West Coast tour this summer. We have never really made it out of the Pacific Northwest, so we’re really looking forward to getting out of the area!
OTH!: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Evan! Before I let you go, is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Evan: Not anything I can think of! Just check us out on Facebook and other social media, and share our music if you like it. Any support helps. Thanks so much to you guys for taking the time to interview us and share our music!