I’m especially excited that BOY are back in town this Saturday night… primarily because the last time I “saw” them I didn’t actually get a chance to see them. The Swiss/German duo had a literally packed house for a sold out show upstairs at World Café Live (which I would like to award with “The Most Poorly Designed Layout of Any Venue in the History of Anything Award.”), where all but the first two rows are forced to give up their view of performers, in return for getting to stand awkwardly, wedged between diners whose heads meet your crotch, while waitresses pinball their way through the audience, causing you to re-position yourself every thirty seconds, while you stare at the back of a rapidly balding head… They did sound good, though… This was apparently not an uncommon sentiment on the band’s first-ever US tour, this past Spring, which managed to sell out every night, packing intimate venues to the gills. This was no bigger a surprise to anyone than the band themselves. I recently got a chance to chat with BOY vocalist Valeska Steiner before the band’s soundcheck on opening night of their current tour and she told me all about how taken aback she and bassist Sonja Glass have been by the band’s success and the opportunities it has afforded.
“That was pretty surreal to us to be so far away from home and have packed houses every night. We never imagined we’d get to travel so far with our music, which is what we love. We’re able to travel North America and we toured Japan. We’re just so thankful, but also regularly so surprised that we get to do this.”
BOY are going to be back in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection this Saturday, October 5th, at Theatre of Living Arts. So if you missed their hyper-intimate debut US tour, or just plain couldn’t get a good view, this is your chance to see a band that would seem to be on the verge of very big things. However, Steiner tells me that this tour is going to be a very different live experience than US fans have experienced of BOY: “This is our first US tour with a full band and it’s definitely going to be pretty different from the acoustic set we played as a duo on our last US tour. We have a lot more possibilities for the arrangements, which are much more dynamic, where we can be very loud… and then very quiet… and then very loud again. It’s going to be a lot more true to the sound of the album.”
BOY’s debut album, Mutual Friends, first dropped back in 2011 and received a US release this February on Nettwork Records. The album’s sound falls in the realm of indie folk pop. At first I want to compare it to early Tegan and Sara, when they were at their most stripped… But it also has a very ‘90s-inspired singer/songwriter vibe, at times embracing a subversive sass reminiscent of Poe, and at others a Lisa-Loeb-like intensely earnest charm… Then, after a few listens, you’ll even hear echoes of the most whimsical and sincere kind of dream pop… My personal favorite track is “Waitress,” an upbeat pop tune about the profound existential beauty and tragedy to be found in the mundane life of a waitress, a track which Steiner tells me nearly didn’t make it: “It’s so interesting that that’s your favorite. It actually almost didn’t even make the album. It was a really difficult song to finish, because we had like 11 different versions and we just couldn’t settle on one that we liked quite enough.” However, Steiner admits that her favorites for the time being are “Drive Darling” and “Oh Boy”: “’Drive Darling’ is my person favorite, which I think is just, story-wise, the most in-depth, but then ‘Oh Boy’ is just really fun to play live.”
BOY currently have tour dates scheduled throughout the end of the month. However, Steiner tells me that their primary concern for the immediate future is working on new music: “The focus for 2014 is definitely on writing and recording and not so much touring. We’ve already starting writing new songs and I can’t give you specific dates, but we’re definitely hoping to get a new record out in the near future.” I ask Steiner about BOY’s writing and recording process and in what direction future sounds might be going and she tells me, “We don’t like going into songwriting with an idea of what we want to sound like, we have to see song-by-song where the journey goes and what happens.”