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"Unique yet familiar Boatzz rides wave of popularity"

John Benson
Special to The Plain Dealer
Boatzz, soul punk Lakewood.

Years Performing: 3. Day Gig: mechanical engineer, car valet, pizza delivery guy and bartender.

When it comes to influences and sounds, Northeast Ohio act Boatzz -- with a Stevie Wonder-meets-Supergrass vibe -- stands out among its regional peers. "It works because not too many people are doing it," said singer-guitarist Matt Jauch, a 1992 Mentor High School graduate. "Elvis Costello kind of did it in the '70s, and it's pretty unique. We're coming from the same influences. People seem to be really into it. Maybe they're thrown off at first, but we're just not your average band. We kind of win them over in the end." So far, the quartet -- Jauch, Michael DiLiberto (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Dave Gibian (bass) and Eric Mzik (drums) -- has toured the Midwest and the East Coast. The group also has opened for national acts Brian Jonestown Massacre, Secret Machines, The Fever, Rainer Maria, The Killers, The Subways and more. Originally formed in New York City, the foursome, which recently released its new EP "UZI," will headline a 9 p.m. Tuesday show at the Beachland Tavern, 15711 Waterloo Road, Cleveland. Also on the bill are New York City band Headquarters and local act Rainy Day Saints. Tickets are $6. Call 216-383-1124.

- Cleveland Plain Dealer

"To the Netherlands: Boatzz Holds a Cd-release Party Before Heading Overseas"

Formed in late 2003 by singer-guitarist-keyboard player Michael DiLiberto and guitarist-singer Matt Jauch while the two were living in New York, Cleveland-based Boatzz plays slightly arty, slightly jazzy, creamy pop-rock that's been compared to Steely Dan, only it's not so annoyingly vaporous. It released its 12-track debut CD, Peacock Blood, last year on its own Council of Forward Minds Media label. Now, it's following up with a four-song EP, Uzi. Fans can pick it up at a CD release party at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588) at 9 p.m. Saturday, September 30, with Stereo Workers Union and Nick Megalis opening. According to, it "leans heavily on the punkier side of the Boatzz sound, while still retaining their trademark soul influence." The band then departs for a 10-date tour of the Netherlands from October 5-15. Tickets: $6. — Anastasia Pantsios

- Cleveland Free Times (9/28/06)

"Amsterdam or Bust: Boatzz head for the Netherlands, Uzi in hand."

by Chris Parker

The members of Cleveland four-piece Boatzz are as persistent as the hooks that gild their anxious art-pop.

Among other things, the band endured having its van stolen in 2004, while it was playing in New York City.

"We were considering just staying in New York. Mike's like, 'We could hustle or get modeling jobs,'" says guitarist Matt Jauch, his face shrouded by a thin layer of smoke.

The Cleveland music community stepped up to help, holding a pair of benefit concerts featuring bands such as Kill City Kills, Sounder, and the A-Tens.

Since then, Boatzz has been on something of a lucky streak, capped by a 10-date, all-expenses-paid tour of the Netherlands, courtesy of the internet promotion company Sonicbids.

The band got the good news while playing in New York.

"The band we were playing with, the Hard Lessons, from Detroit, they got picked and turned it down," Jauch explains. "Later that night, we got the call. We were the first runner-up."

Though they just finished an album, the promise of Amsterdam already has them dreaming of more recording.

"There's enough songs we could record a whole 'nother album, if we could just lock ourselves in the studio for a few weeks," says Jauch. "That's the dream."

They've had plenty of time to think about it; the tour was originally scheduled for June and then postponed. The quartet used the time to record a 4-song EP, Uzi, and shoot a video for the song "Confidence" with Don Tyler(Ringworm, Mastodon).

The silent-picture-style clip (available on YouTube) finds the band members, dressed in suits, being chased by the camera as they run maniacally, like the Beatles in Help! The visual reference fits the song, which rushes along with bop-bopping backing vocals and a soulful, mod-punk attack reminiscent of Supergrass.

The new disc's highlight is the punchy "Coalmine," a joyous, infectious two-minute pop song fueled by satiric wit. The quartet sounds like a punked-up Talking Heads, with frontman Michael DiLiberto singing, "I can't help but feel the best years of my life are being robbed."

- Cleveland Scene Magazine (9/28/06)

"Press Release: March '06 mini-tour"

Red Rabbit Booking
"Our Ears Are Open"
Contact: Sachi Kobayashi,
Management and PR

¡El Toro! And Boatzz Combine Rock Power
For March Mini-Tour

For Immediate Release
Philadelphia, PA – Feb. 20, 2006 – The nationally released, indie passion-players, ¡El Toro! (Undecided/Victory Records) are teaming up with the urbane art-pop rockers, Boatzz for what is sure to be a musically explosive mini-tour in March. ¡El Toro! and Boatzz are each notorious for their fervent, energetic live performances that leave their crowds of fans breathless and sweating just from watching.

The mini-tour is limited to four exclusive dates across Pennsylvania and in New York City, before both bands return to crafting new songs for their next EPs expected to début later this year. This is the first time that these two equally innovative bands have come together to tour, guaranteeing the shows to be a singular experience for all audiences.

With their unique talent and drive ¡El Toro! have defied categorization to create their own new genre, Dram Rock: dramatic rock ‘n’ roll. By combining elements of indie rock, experimental sounds, sampled loops, and trippy effects they make intensely moving music that make it easy to understand why fans everywhere love them. ¡El Toro! hails from Philadelphia, and have shared stages with such diverse and popular bands as Hanson, Brand New, Head Automatica, Bear vs. Shark, MewithoutYou, Brazil, Lovedrug, Owen, Showbread, and Paulson.

A fresh combination direct from Cleveland , Boatzz have somehow mixed the raw energy of punk with a polished funk tone to totally reinvent the gritty distortion, and a rocking flow of straight up rock ‘n’ roll. The end result is so sonically compelling that you shouldn’t be surprised if at first listen you find yourself mesmerized. So far they have already opened for The Killers, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Longwave, Secret Machines, The Fever, Rainer Maria, OkGo, Aloha & The High Dials.

This tour is not to be missed. It’s your chance for a select introduction to two distinctive, up-and-coming bands, before everyone else finds out about them. No matter the audience or venue ¡El Toro! and Boatzz never disappoint, and always captivate. - Red Rabbit Booking

"3/5/06 Interview on I Rock Cleveland blog site"

2006 has the potential to be a very big year for the Cleveland band, Boatzz: Their debut album, Peacock Blood, was released last fall, the studio work for a follow up e.p. was recently completed, they have two high profile opening gigs with The Subways and Hard Fi in Cleveland in the coming months, and the night I met with the band, they had just finished shooting a new video. There had been rumors that Boatzz were breaking up. The speculation was fueled in part by Michael's previously stated plans to spend the summer in New York City. However, after spending an evening with the band it was apparent that breaking up simply isn't an option. In fact, the opposite seems poised to happen. This is a band ready to blow up on the local scene and perhaps, even garner some well deserved national attention.

Since you've just spent the better part of the day running through the Cleveland Metroparks in suits and dress shoes, shooting this new video, why don't you tell me a little bit about the video?

Matt Jauch (guitar): The video was shot by a friend of ours, Don Tyler. Actually, we used to be in a band together and he does a lot of video work for Cleveland metal and hardcore bands, like Ringworm. I think he would rather do more with the rock bands, but he gets more work with the metal bands.

Michael Di Liberto (vocals, keys, and guitar): It was high concept and low budget. A lot of my favorite videos have a really good concept and not a million special effects. It was shot for the song, "Confidence," off of our new e.p. In post production there's going to be buildings crumbling replaced by flowers and other foliage. Hopefully, it's done in time for South by Southwest. Don's going down there and he's planning on screening it for MTV2's Subterranean.

Now, this new e.p. that you've recently recorded. Is this a continuation of the style you established on your debut Cd, Peacock Blood, or did it go in a new direction?

Dave Gibian(bass): We feel pretty strongly about the new songs. They're all heavy hitters.

Michael: It's the punkest thing we've done. I consider Peacock Blood punk influenced, but this one is four bangers in a row. It's more energetic than our first cd and it's also the first recording with Dave on bass.

The first cd you self released and there were hints in the November Scene interview that you had tried shopping it around, but instead decided to release it yourselves. What is the plan with the new e.p.?

Michael: We don't know who's going to put it out. Hopefully, it won't be us.

Matt: We didn't really shop the first recording around. We had a friend who was going to put it out, but things weren't going to work out. Instead, we decided that we wanted to start getting college radio play and do some promotion right away. We're trying to shop for a label this time and hopefully someone will pick up the cd and the new e.p. as well. We all have to figure out what's the best thing for us to do.

Listening to the music of Boatzz, I get the impression that the songwriting process would start with a riff or a rhythm. Is that the case?

Michael: It usually starts with the music. I've already written most of the songs and I'll bring them to the band and we'll arrange them together. There is the rare occasion where the words are coming so quickly that I can't write them fast enough.

Eric Mzik (drums): Mike will be working on some songs then he'll bring us a couple and I'll say, "Let's work with that one."

Matt: At some point we may write more as a band, but I find it easier if one person writes everything and everyone else does their part.

Michael: I've been in bands where everyone's writing. When I was in Ambulance there were three songwriters: Dave, Marcus, and myself. Everyone was competing over songs and it wasn't really favorable to anyone.

This question interests me since I'm a writer and a music fan living in Cleveland: What do you think of the state of Cleveland rock?

Michael: I think it's as healthy as it's ever been. There's so much good music going on right now: This Moment in Black History, Roue, Tall Pines, in Akron, there's Houseguest, Machine Go Boom is a great band, and The Dreadful Yawns who signed to Bomp.

There's so much going on, but Alternative Press, a national magazine, based here in Cleveland, doesn't ever feature the Cleveland scene. In order to make a scene really blow up there needs to be some media attention on it. You need magazines writing about it, you need websites writing about it, you need photographers. You need people documenting what's happening.

Michael, you mentioned in one of our earlier email conversations that you're going to be spending some time in New York City this summer. What do you plan to do while you're there?

Michael: I have a lot of friends and contacts in New York City and I know a lot of insiders there. I'm staying with Jo - Bill Lipold

"Boatzz "Peacock Blood" (Council of Forward Minds Media)"

Hip, flamboyant and soulful, Boatzz singer-keyboardist-guitarist Michael Di Liberto fashions himself as something like a cross between Elton John and Stevie Wonder. After opening with “Mexican Bourgeois,” which borrows from the off-kilter jazz of Steely Dan, the band quickly turns to its pop instincts, effortlessly rattling off the guitar-driven “Set It Off,” the groove-laden “Rise Up,” the frisky instrumental “103 and Lex” and the garage rocker “Too Much Is Never Enough.” “Weapons of Mass Construction” is a clever jam (especially when Di Liberto proclaims “I’m a smart bomb!”), and the autobiographical “Live Until We Die” recalls DiLiberto leaving New York (where he played in Ambulance Ltd.). But the thing that stands out the most is the band’s songwriting aptitude. - Free Times (Cleveland)

"Rockin the Boatzz"

Michael di Liberto speaks the way he writes, in a series of digressions. The frontman for Boatzz is fond of antsy songs that never sit still. From pop daydreams to punk nightmares, their repertoire is defined by misdirection; they'll headfake you constantly, till you don't know what's coming next.
In conversation, di Liberto can be just as hard to pin down. Drinking fizzy red lambic at the Grovewood Tavern in Collinwood, he fits right in with the chatty bohemians sipping wine beneath an impressionistic painting of a cat. He has a knack for turning basic talking points -- like, say, how his band got its name -- into rambling dissertations.

"It's a long story, but in a roundabout way, it's a play on the Beatles, but it wasn't intentional, " he says haltingly. "There was an old Beatles record that I was drawing on, and I just came up with 'Boatzz' out of 'Beatles.' I used the B and covered up the E and made it an O. I used the A and T, and then covered up the L-E-S with two Z's. It's definitely different. It's kinda like the music, man; it keeps people guessing."

Perhaps the only definitive thing one can say about Boatzz is that there's really nothing definitive about them. Their urbane art-pop has alternately been described as "trippy elevator music," "the Zombies meet Blur," and "Joe Jackson rolling in an Escalade listening to Supergrass and doing some serious party favors." Their recent debut, Peacock Blood, encapsulates all those influences and also brings to mind the Super Furry Animals, Carole King, and the Buzzcocks. There's dizzy white-boy funk ("Steal a Bike"), along with rowdy new-wave free-for-alls ("Mexican Bourgeois") and growling garage rockers slick with perspiration ("Too Much Is Never Enough"). Sassy protest songs are sandwiched between oversexed, bedroom-bound come-ons and stoner-friendly instrumental jams.

But Boatzz stop short of hammy self-indulgence by tethering these flights of fancy to shiny hooks and harmonies, which give the songs an immediacy that most overtly diffuse bands lack. "I wrapped this heady shit all up in a pop song, " di Liberto coos at one point, "just so you could sing along." And you actually can.

"A lot of times, bands are either going to write catchy pop tunes or songs with really intelligent lyrics and a lot of changes, " says bassist Dave Gibian "To find a medium in there is huge."

Of course, lots of groups craft postmodern goulash by mixing disparate elements. It usually yields brainy and stilted pastiches of sound, as if all they wanna do is show off the breadth of their record collections. Boatzz's concoctions are seldom so forced.

"For me, this band means complete freedom, " says di Liberto, a self-avowed record-collector geek. "I feel like this is maybe the first band that all of us have been in where we really feel like we can do any style of music, and it will sound like us. I would like to think there's continuity to it, no matter if we're genre-hopping."

Given the players' previous bands, extensive genre-hopping should be expected: Guitarist Matt Jauch spent time in Cleveland hardcore troupe Chalkline; most recently, he and drummer Eric Mzik were part of the once-promising rock band Solo Flyer. Di Liberto gained notoriety in the punk outfit 30 Lincoln before veering into moody alt-rock with Ambulance. That band led him to New York City for a full-time stint in music.

"Me and my friend wrote a Levi's commercial and starred in it, so we got like two checks, and that afforded me the opportunity to wake up every day and just play piano, " he says. "I didn't really have to go to a job or anything. I was still really poor; I probably should have worked, but it was my dream to move to New York and just play music every day. That's actually when I wrote a lot of these songs."

Di Liberto eventually left Ambulance and was evicted from his apartment when the money ran out. So he moved back to Cleveland and hooked up with Jauch, whom he had known for years. They launched Boatzz as a side project in the fall of 2003, but after Solo Flyer began to wane last year, Boatzz took over.

"I've always wanted to be in a band that's as good as the bands that I like a lot, " says Jauch, a lanky blonde in a vintage Police tour shirt. "I felt like Solo Flyer was getting there. With this project, I feel like this is finally in league with what I would go out and buy."

Recording offers came in, and the band nearly signed with a label that the band declines to name. But the deal was scuttled when Boatzz refused to heed input on the design and sequencing of Peacock Blood.

"We were very, very close to signing with this label, we had the contracts and everything, but they didn't want to do the packaging the way we wanted it, " Jauch says. "With the sequencing, they threw a fit with having 'Mexican Bourgeois' be first."

"They said it wasn't an accurate representation of the - Jason Bracelin for Scene Magazine (Cleveland)

"show review: OKgo/She Wants Revenge/Boatzz"

tonight was the Boatzz/She Wants Revenge/OKGo show at the Grog Shop. i went with my usual grog shop partner mary, and her friend douglas. rather then bore you to death with the minute by minute details of everything that happened and every funny/amazing thing that was said or done, i am just going to give you a quick synopsis of the night. the sparknotes version, if you will… so here it is.

Boatzz- ( - they were good. catchy, poppy. along the lines of Koufax or OKGo. they deserved to be on the bill and they are from right here in Cleveland. since tonight was their cd release party, they came all dressed up in suits and tuxedos. it was nice.

She Wants Revenge- ( - i wasn’t really a fan. they were like a mediocre group trying to do Interpol or Franz Ferdinand. the lead singer was the only one in the band that seemed into it and therefore, he looked funny. also, it looked like the bass player had notes on where to put his fingers taped on his bass… bad idea. learn the part or don’t… just don’t half-ass it.

OKGo- ( - amazing. wonderful. gorgeous. to many words and not enough space. and, c’mon… they did the dance. how cool is that?

i also scored some free stickers and a pin…

as usual… pictures. - Dave Koen

"Boatzz, "Mexican Bourgeois""

This sounds like the Walkmen with more hip swerve. The quartet's tale of life on the lam explores that late-'60s intersection of acid rock and garage, Hammond organ blaring over intermittent blasts of wah. "Outlaws turned to Mexican bourgeois," they sing, as broad, colorful sonics shadow a slinky rhythm.

Boatzz, with the Stills and Rogue Wave. Friday, June 16, at the Grog Shop (CMJ Festival). With Tall Pines, Saturday, June 17, at the Happy Dog. - Scene Magazine (June 14-20, 2006)

"Interview in Rebel-Yell (Holland) online magazine"

(Interview with Matt Jauch)

Tell us a little bit about the band. How did you come up with the name Boatzz?

Michael came up with it. He was drawing on a Beatles "Hard Days Night" LP and changed 'Beatles' to 'Boatzz'. When he showed it to me it was around the time we started the band and didn't have a name. As soon as I saw Boatzz i knew it was the name we should use. There was something about it. It somehow fit the music we were making. This was around June 2003. He had just moved back to Cleveland after living in New York City for 4 years, which included 2 years as a founding member of the band Ambulance LTD.

There are some great bands out there waiting to be heard. What – in your opinion- makes you stand out? Why should people listen to your songs?

I think it's because we don't sound like anyone else. People try to describe it but they can't. That's when you know your band is original. We take pride in that. We can barely describe it ourselves to people. We basically sound like if you mashed together most of Michael's record collection. The comparisons we get range from Steely Dan to Joe Jackson to The Buzzcocks to The Beatles to Supergrass. There's no one band that every song we have sounds like. We incorporate a wide variety of influence. Every one in the band has wide ranging influences so when Michael brings us a song to learn, the 4 of us turn it into this new thing that didn't previously exist. We make actual "new" music but with very distinct influences from the past. We're danceable, but we don't play "Dance Rock". We are poppy and punk, but we aren't a "Pop Punk" band. We are a band you can alternately snap your fingers to, bang your head to and ballroom dance to.

Give us 5 words that you think describe Boatzz best.

Sweaty, Loud, Soulful, Funky, Partied.

2006. What has that year been like for you so far? What have been the highlights?

2006 has been gnarly, in a good way, just like 2005. In January we did our first tour, for 2 weeks in the mid west and east coast of the US . That definitely taught us a lot about our band. Touring will solidify you or break you up quickly. We toured again in March for a week and then Michael moved to NYC for 5 months. We recorded the “Uzi” EP before he left and played memorable shows with The Subways and later on with The Stills at Cleveland CMJ. Besides the good times there was a lot of fighting as well but I look at us as brothers. We get on each other's nerves but we get over it. Plus you've got two strong minded Aries males as the front men so that's always going to cause friction. Going on tour in The Netherlands has been the ultimate highlight (the tour was in October), so preparing for it has consumed a bit of this year as well.

Was that Holland tour everything you've expected from it or didn't you have any expectations? Are you well known here - you think?

Every tour is going to be a few great shows and then a lot of so-so ones. That's been my experience in every band I've been in and touring Holland was pretty much the same. Our expectations were not huge and we were just happy to come over and explore a new country and meet new people. At times the shows were secondary to the experience of just being in a beautiful, historic European country. I'm not sure if people liked us. They clapped hard. Some people danced. No one really tried to heckle us. We didn't sell a whole lot of merchandise but people seemed into what we were doing. I'm not quite sure how well publicized each show was. I didn't really see a whole lot of promotion at the clubs.

That said, our Myspace profile was getting the most plays and downloads per day that's it's ever had while we were in Holland , so maybe that was an indicater that people were checking us out. I think that if the real rock fans and also the university kids in Holland who are into the indie/Brit-influenced sound ( the “cool kids”, if you will) knew about us and were at the shows, it would be a whole other experience. But that's how it goes anywhere, including the US . You can't expect huge shows the first time you go to another country or when first touring the US . We are not signed to a label so without label support, radio support and proper publicity, it's anyone's guess how it's going to go. But touring of any kind will yield results, they just aren't always immediate results. It takes time. I have a gut feeling that at some point in the future we are going to come back here and each time it's going to get better and better.

How was touring with Cafebar 401 for you?

They were great guys. They really felt like kindred spirit and we're never going to forget them. When you tour with another band you haven't previously met, then it's anyone's guess how it's going to go. It took about a week for them to understand all our inside jokes and slang words. They only played half of the shows with us and sadly, they are on the downside of their band's existence. Their singe - Ramona Saya (


"Peacock Blood" 12-song CD (Council of Forward Minds Media, 2005)

"Uzi" 4-song EP (Council of Forward Minds Media, 2006)



Formed in 2003 in a charming Harlem, NYC apartment, Boatzz is the brainchild of Ambulance LTD wayward son Michael DiLiberto & Solo Flyer singer/guitarist Matt Jauch. On a trip to NYC in 2003, Matt stayed with Michael and after hearing his post-Ambulance LTD songs & watching Bumfights, Matt decided that upon Michael's move back to Cleveland that these songs needed to be brought to life. Thus, Boatzz. The band is rounded out by Solo Flyer drummer Eric Mzik & bass player Dave Gibian. In their time together, Boatzz has been tapped to open for The Killers, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Stills, Longwave, Secret Machines, The Fever, Rainer Maria, Okgo, Aloha, The High Dials, The Subways and more. The group’s debut long player “Peacock Blood” was released in Oct. 2005 on the band's own imprint Council of Forward Minds Media.

In 2006 Boatzz toured the midwest and east coast of the US and in October of that year did a 2 week tour of The Netherlands. This coincided with the release of the 4-song "Uzi" EP, again released under the Council of Forward Minds Media name.

Currently Boatzz plays regionally in the US and is working on their full length album.

"PEACOCK BLOOD" is available for purchase at:

"UZI" is available for purchase at:

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