Like some gangly misbegotten phoenix, Hut Hut arrives — dusting off the ashes of the beloved Boats — and steps into a new world of sideways harmonies and dancing guitars.
In fact, Mat Klachefsky’s freshly birthed project is Boats in nearly everything but name.
However, there’s one significant difference in the way Hut Hut’s helium-pitched frontperson views his new venture.
“Boats was my full-time focus when it was happening and Hut Hut is not,” Klachefsky said.
“Where Boats was a full-time gig, this is an evening and weekends gig.”
Following three albums and one EP, not to mention being signed to the mythic Portland, Ore., label Kill Rock Stars, Boats was laid to rest in 2016. In the time between his original band’s retirement and his new band’s arrival, Klachefsky settled in.
“I have to carry on with my life. I have a job and I have kids now,” he said.
His new responsibilities as a parent didn’t change the way he thinks about music — he simply thinks about it less. They also made him question the realities of remaining relevant in an infamously cutthroat industry and whether that relevancy even matters.
“Can people still just make music casually, and not have it totally consume their lives?” he said, “Music is supposed to be fun, can I just do this for fun, and have people enjoy it and have people listen to it?
“Instead of like, killing myself to get a scrap of attention, putting $20,000 on my credit card so I can go tour or go record with some fancy dude.”
It’s this ethos of making music for music’s sake, in search of genuine connection removed from the machinations of the industry, that drives much of Hut Hut’s wonky, enchantingly energetic debut album Hut Hut Hut.
“You always hear ‘We’re always interviewing bands when they’re at the height of their careers,’” Klachefsky said, “but all those people out there who I like — mid-level bands or lower-mid-level bands — what happens to them? Where do they go? Do they all get jobs and just never make music ever again? Because that’s sad.”
For this reason, Klachefsky hasn’t gone away — instead, he’s found the quiet corners of his life and filled them with what music he can.
“I would like to continue making music, but I want to make it on my own time,” he said.
“This is more like, ‘Hey, if I find some time to write some songs, I will write some songs.’ I don’t want to stop doing that.”
Still, Klachefsky said it isn’t always easy to put the time aside to “go into the music space,” as he puts it. Perhaps it’s this compartmentalized, economic vision of creation that helped create Hut Hut Hut’s lean, efficiently exploratory sound.
“It was important to try to avoid bloat,” Klachefsky said. “On those old records, I would listen and then be like ‘Why do we have all this stuff on this track?’”
“So, we kind of went a bit minimalist on it. Not what you can add but what you can take away. So the songs are a little simpler.”
A meticulous songwriter, Klachefsky said the songs are released as they are in his head — each note pre-planned and hammered out in studio.
“It’s all mapped out in demos,” he said. “The studio recordings are just carbon copies of home recordings.”
However, this straightforward planning doesn’t always make for easy studio time — the pitfalls of translating a vision to the real world remain.
“Sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing,” Klachefsky said.
“You go in and see if you can come up with some ideas, and sometimes you have an idea you want to work on, and sometimes that idea doesn’t go anywhere and you just keep re-recording it over and over a million times and just completely waste all your time.”
And while Hut Hut Hut’s economy of sound seems influenced by his new life, Klachefsky said most of the songs predate his kids. They certainly sound youthful and fleet-footed, filled with the same wild-eyed awe and free-form lyricism that fans of Boats will recognize. He hasn’t lost his sense of adventure or his desire to warp the world around himself in his funhouse of voice and music.
“I just want to be able to play music for people on my own terms and not go into debt doing it,” he said.
It’s a seemingly simple goal, but it’s a noble one too — to make music for people and not profit, to make music for yourself, to make music to stay alive.
“Let’s all just make music and play it and share it.” Klachefsky said.
“All the dads out there, let’s just make music. Let’s not kill ourselves.”
Hut Hut’s inaugural album release show is Feb. 7 at the Good Will Social Club.