Combining the sounds of classic 60’s psychedelia with the likes of The Verve, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Primal Scream - Manchester based 4-piece The Watchmakers have created a unique blend of psychedelic laced rock 'n' roll that has been shrouded in mystery over the last 18 months. Their self-produced demos Before Questions Became and Waves have earned the band much critical praise and airplay from the likes of John Kennedy at XFM and BBC Introducing in Manchester and has led to seasoned music lovers and music industry insiders clamouring for more material.
We met up with the guys to talk dogs, supergroups (and I mean SUPER groups) and the Fab Four, here's how we got on....
Please introduce the band and your music in one sentence....
We’re The Watchmakers and we’re currently combining 60’s inspired vibes with neo-psychedelic sounds.
You’re called The Watchmakers how did you come about choosing this name?
We had a song called ‘Adventures Of A Watchmaker’ – after many many bad name suggestions someone put forward ‘The Watchmakers’ and the rest is history.
How has social media aided your music?
Quite a lot I think. Twitter especially is great for connecting with people from all over the world and we have had Radio plays from America to South East Asia off the back of interacting through twitter.
Being a Manchester band does it get boring when being compared to Oasis and or Stone Roses?
Sometimes it can get a little annoying as it’s lazy and easy to compare any 4 piece band from Manchester (or the UK) playing guitar music to the likes of Oasis / The Stone Roses etc. Personally I’ve always preferred The Verve, but collectively bands of that mid 90’s era are the reason we all first got into music and discovered The Beatles and The Stones and The Doors and the Thirteenth Floor Elevators and Pink Floyd et al, so without them we wouldn’t be doing what we love.
The Roses and Oasis made amazing music so it’s a compliment to be mentioned in the same breath in many ways.
Listening to ‘Illumination’ and ‘Carpe Diem’ it's a realisation that you guys are on the way to being amazing can you please explain the sound and the process of making this single?
We recorded the Drums for both songs with PUSH recordings based in Stoke who have loads of retro microphones and gear that I can’t even name, so that was ace! We then recorded the Bass, Guitars, Vocals ourselves in our studio and had the songs mastered by Ding at 6DB studios in Salford.
Illumination was more conventional as we had been playing the song live so it already had a structure, energy and a sound that we layered with multiple guitars / e-bows and synths. We double track my vocals on most of our records with one track going through a distorted Lesley speaker and one through a standard cleaner vocal track.
Carpe Diem was written as a song but we hadn’t played it as a band so we had numerous ideas of how to try record it and how it could sound. Originally I wanted to make it like ‘Supersonic’ by The Brian Jonestown Massacre with loads of Sitars and Indian vibes, but Ian came up with a mint hip hop style drum beat so I sang the vocal melody over that and then that gave Adam almost a blank canvas to weave his guitar work into it – with beautiful results!
You’re signed with The Loaded Soul label, how did this come about?
We’re not tied down to any label at the moment. Loaded Soul have released the Illumination/ Carpe Diem single but we’ll see what happens with future releases. We also had an E.P out on Box Bedroom Rebel Records earlier this year which sold out within a week. It’s just great to releasing music after a couple of years honing our craft!
Would you rather live with a dog that sings lullabies or a gorilla that can do sign language? Explain your answer
Dog with Lullabies – I love those dogs in that animated film ‘UP’ where they’re wearing collars that mean they can talk – so I’m imagining a dog like that singing something soothing.
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released and why?
The Album that changed my life and outlook on music was Revolver by The Beatles. I love Rubber Soul too, but I was always a late bloomer when it came to really appreciating The Beatles and had always preferred The Stones and Dylan. But one night I finally listened to Revolver from start to finish in my flat and everything just suddenly made sense. The song writing is phenomenal when you first hear She Said She Said, For No One, I’m Only Sleeping, Here There & Everywhere, And Your Bird Can Sing etc… The cover is proper decent too which is always important with a good album - And then you have the final track Tomorrow Never Knows which in 1966 must have really messed with peoples brain’s – I could talk all day about it… It was the catalyst for turning me on to the Beatles in a big way. I think once you’re properly in love with The Beatles there’s no going back…
If you had a chance to put together your own ‘super group’, who would be in it? (Only living members please)
Tough one. Let’s go for.
Drums: Ian Matthews (Kasabian)
Bass: Paul McCartney (The Beatles)
Synths: Tom Furse (The Horrors)
Guitars / Keys: Jason Pierce (Spiritualized)
Guitar 1: Keith Richards (Rolling Stones)
Guitar 2: Nick McCabe (The Verve)
Guitar 3: Anton Newcome (BJM)
Vocals: Richard Ashcroft (The Verve)
Just your conventional 8 piece line up!
Do you own a record that you wouldn’t like to admit you have?
By naming a record that I have that I wouldn’t like to admit to having would mean I don’t have any that I wouldn’t want to admit too…! Unfortunately Yes I do have some that I don’t want to admit to owning!...
Who designed the artwork for your EP cover?
My mate Jimi Shea created the original hand and eye used on the cover (he has loads of amazing art online so check him out!). Ad our guitarist added the paisley for the sleeve. The Artwork inside the E.P was done mainly by Ian our Drummer. The Photo’s used were taken by Tom Saul, Dom Hopkins and Mandy Milnes. Kev from the label also added his own quirky bits like the confetti and scratch and sniff stickers! It came together really well and its ace that people dig it.
Is there something you would like to tell each of the band members that you haven’t told them before?
I love you all equally!
You have built a great fan base with your live shows, what is a Watchmaker gig like?
It’s great that we have so many nutty fans that always make the effort to come down to the gigs.
Our own nights are always the most memorable as we have live visuals and incense sticks burning and there’s always an amazing atmosphere. It’s a real buzz to play when there’s a great atmosphere building up to our stage time; it definitely brings the best out of us.
I think we’re still growing as a live band though so hopefully there’s still more to come.
John Kennedy of XFM played Before Questions Became (demos) can you explain what it is like to hear your creations played by a DJ like John Kennedy?
We were rehearsing at the time and missed it / didn’t know he was going to be playing us. We only found out because Linn from Little Indie Blogs had tweeted us (thanks Linn!).
It’s pretty amazing that John played it as we literally just popped a CD in the post to him. He’s really influential and obviously hears a lot of music and new bands, so it’s a real honour to be selected to be played on his show and on a radio station like XFM.
What classic song would you have liked to have recorded and why?
Sympathy For The Devil by The Rolling Stones. That Jean-Luc Godard film about the making of that song is brilliant and it’s fascinating seeing it all come together in the studio through their various ideas.
As a song writer that’s what excites me about taking an idea to the band and seeing it turn into something absolutely massive. With Sympathy For The Devil I love the way it eventually builds around the groove – but it’s got everything, great lyrics, “woo woo’s”, bongo’s and an amazing solo – what’s not love!
First gig you ever went to?
Think it was either V festival in 2000 or Stereophonics at Donnington Park.
Where did you record your EP and what made you choose that studio?
The songs on the E.P were all recorded over the space of about year by ourselves in our own studio. Everything was done using just 2 standard Shure mic’s and then produced by Adam.
We decided to do it all ourselves to give us completely creative control and also more importantly the time to get things right. It was to be the first music we released so we wanted to makes sure we weren’t rushing and worrying about running up studio costs etc.
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
The Underground Youth and Purple Heart Parade from Manchester and Arthur Gunn from London are all great new bands people should try and check out.
I’ve also recently got in to a band called White Fence - who have been around for ages – but they are unbelievable!
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
Do you think we can ever live in a world where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned?
They’ll always be people questioning things, but no animal should ever lose its sense of adventure.
There’s probably something philosophical in that joke to do with the fact that we’re all just trying to get to the other side!
What are your plans for 2014 and beyond?
Hopefully we’ll have more music out before Christmas – we’ll certainly be recording some new stuff this summer.
We’re currently lining up gigs for the autumn and will hopefully keep going from strength to strength. It would be great to gig in Europe and also play a few more festivals next year.
We started to chat about football and the old United vs City debate cropped up, prior to things getting too heated, we threw in a few quick fire questions to diffuse the situation....
Coffee or Tea?
Coke or Pepsi?
Human Traffic or Kevin & Perry?
Kevin & Perry
Drum machine or the real deal?
Mac or PC?
Fry up or Sunday roast
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)?
CD or Vinyl?
Car or Motorbike?
The Verve or Oasis?
Acoustic or Electric?
Jennifer Lawrence or Emily Blunt?
Shower or Bath?
Tattoos or Piercings?
Robert De Niro or Al Pacino?
God or Google?
The band is set to play a mad all day event in Manchester on October 11th, details below....
AN ALL DAY PSYCH, GARAGE, BLUES, GAZE ALL DAYER BETWEEN THE CASTLE HOTEL & GULLIVERS IN MANCHESTER
Tickets available here:
THE ALTERED HOURS
THE RAG N BONE MAN
THE PHEONIX EXPERIMENT
KINDEST OF THIEVES
NEW YORK WANNABES
CARL FOULKES JONES
HOPPER PROPELLED ELECTRIC
& MANY MORE TBC
We'd like to thank the guys for sparing their time to answer our questions and look forward to posting future news items on them real soon....