Volume 91, Issue 94

Thursday, March 26, 1998

Belushi goes west


Watch the men succeed

©Richard Sibbald
WHEN WE CAME OUT OF THE MILITARY, WE NEEDED A JOB. Watch The Watchmen stand gaurd and play... play like the wind tonight at the Wave.

By Clare Elias
Gazette Staff

On the road to life there are passengers and there are drivers. The Watchmen are the latter, keeping an eye on the road and the surroundings as they coast down their own path. "We're keen observers," says Joey Serlin, guitarist of the group.

The most important thing for The Watchmen to observe about themselves is staying true amidst the success of the band. As the four-piece ensemble journeys forward in their eighth year together, they are once again taking their listeners along for the ride.

The journey begins in a place called Silent Radar, where the atmosphere is breathable and relaxed. "There was no fear in writing the album, we were focused and adamant that we were going to fucking nail it," admits Serlin.

Complimenting the sound was their new producer Adam Kasper, also responsible for Soundgarden and REM. Serlin explains Kasper didn't control the creative output of this album, instead "he eliminated the fear when the red light goes on." This enabled the band to go in and write, without any worries so they could bring out their best ideas and sounds.

"He changed us by not changing us," is Serlin's explanation of the 'Kasperian' approach. "It's the producer's job to know when to take the crayons away."

The process of bringing the album to life is also a journey; it involves taking all the different paths travelled and pulling them into one place. "You never stop refining, working, building melodies and listening to your work," Serlin explains, while emphasizing the importance of persevering until that moment of inspiration kicks in.

After playing for almost a decade, one wonders if this inspiration ever becomes road kill. "When we first started playing it wasn't a business. Now we have producers and contracts, but what we have to do is separate playing and jamming from the technical side of things," says Serlin.

"If the inspiration dies, you might as well quit." With Silent Radar, it's apparent that it hasn't been lost, as their songs continue to evoke emotional responses. "We're not exactly happy songwriters. There's a juxtaposition between our songs and our sound." There's a range of vibes located within each track, where the melody can be happy and uplifting, but with a close listen to the lyrics, a sense of confinement and sadness is instilled.

Most of the songwriting is a collaboration between Serlin and vocalist Danny Greaves. "We write from everything we've experienced. It's written at humanistic levels which are at the heart and the emotions," acknowledges Serlin. They've even drawn from living next door to a "psychotic satanist," whose voice pierced through the walls in Serlin's Toronto apartment. And out of this experience came lyrics like "The walls are closing in," which is heard on "come around," off the forthcoming CD.

While the lyrics are consciously construed, the sounds are mostly an unconscious effect. "We latch onto a rhythmic groove and inject it into the band. We have influences coming from everywhere and they stay in our mind and come out when we start jammin'," says Serlin. The diversity of the band stems from more mellow sounds to blues to weird jazzy grooves.

The comfort element inhabiting these musicians brings about the natural feel in their songs. "We've had time to adjust to everything – our success didn't happen overnight, it's been gradual."

As The Watchmen come to the Wave tonight they continue to keep each other in check, travelling along their down-to-earth path.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998