“You wouldn’t believe how many idiots think I live in an igloo.”
Stephen Kozmeniuk, founder and lead singer of Boy, is talking about the misperceptions he’s had to deal with regarding his hometown. Whitehorse, Yukon, may not be the music capital of the world, but Kozmeniuk is quick to assure outsiders that it’s just your average Canadian burg – Wal-Mart and all. “It’s all the stuff around it that makes it beautiful,” he adds.
Few musicians are better qualified to assess the characteristics of the average Canadian town than Kozmeniuk. Not only does he hail from one of the country’s northern outposts, but his hand-picked bandmates (Boy was a Kozmeniuk solo act before expanding for 2004’s Every Page You Turn) include Vancouver Islanders, Winnipeggers and Torontonians. Indeed, the boys in Boy – Rolla Olak and James Robertson on guitar, Steve Payne on bass and Maurie Kaufmann on the skins – represent a diverse slice of Canadiana, a social scene broken by thousands of miles of geography.
And to hear Kozemeniuk tell it, this doesn’t matter one bit.
“I think Canada is such a small country and most of it’s pretty much the same. Musician-wise, it’s such a small community that everybody’s all on the same kinda level,” he says.
On tour, at least, this common level can be delightfully childish. Kozmeniuk laughs as he recounts some of the hell that Boy and their roadmates Pilate raised during an extensive cross-Canada tour last fall.
“They thought it was great to put salami on all our microphones and our drums one night,” he says of a Pilate-initiated gag, “so I thought it was great the next night to piss on their motorhome and climb on the roof and piss all over that. And we kept trying every night to put this pilates DVD on behind them on the projection screen – like all of a sudden it goes ‘Pilates For Dummies’ – but we couldn’t get it on. There was a guy guarding the machine too closely.”
These antics should remind Waking Eyes and The Marble Index, the bands set to hit the road with Boy in the next few weeks, of the importance of good stage security and regular tour bus washings. Practical jokes are a symptom of inter-band competition that Kozmeniuk says is necessary for keeping artists sharp and cutting through the boredom of touring.
“You have to be a little competitive in this business,” he says. “But at the same time you can be friends.”
Having effectively marked their territory in Canada, Boy could be excused for dreaming of success south of the border and around the world. But Kozmeniuk is in no hurry.
“We don’t want to try to blow our load on one album,” Kozmeniuk says. “I think it’s a major mistake when people go in and just goo all over everything and nothing happens. You gotta work at it.”
If the group continues to work as hard as they play, Canada won’t have Boy’s goo to itself too much longer.
Boy plays the following shows in February:
February 9 Toronto, ON – The Rivoli
February 10 Hamilton, ON – The Underground
February 11 Ottawa, ON – Barrymore’s Music Hall
February 12 Montreal, QC – The Main Hall
February 16 Winnipeg, MN – Cowboy’s
February 17 Regina, SK – The State
February 18 Saskatoon, SK – Louis’ Pub
February 19 Edmonton, AB – The Starlite Room & Victory Lounge