Face to face with The Watchmakers

The Watchmakers

The Watchmakers are a perfect, psychedelic band with eerie undertones in sound and haunting atmosphere. Press play, close your eyes and let your imagination run wild and free… Rich Maitland talks to Rock Britain about the new single ‘Illumination’, listening to new albums and being based in Manchester.

– Your single ‘Illumination’ is out in July. What were the main inspirations behind this song and how was it born? 

– I wrote the song about year ago on a little 4 track recorder. I just started with a simple driving drum beat and then layered it with synth drones and built the song around that vibe. The vocal melody for the verses came before any of the guitar parts or chord changes etc. The chorus was previously part of another song that was much more mellow but it seemed to flow naturally out of the verse and seemed really uplifting. Lyrically I guess it’s about trying to break away from what the world tells you to be.

 It really comes together and becomes The Watchmakers once we all play it as a 4 piece though, it has a real energy and intensity live.

– What introduction would you give to this song to get listeners acquainted with it? 

 – Driving motorik grooves drenched in sonic waves of synths & fuzz.

– If you were to put out a physical release of a full-length album, how would you make this release special? 

 – We recently released a limited edition 4 track Vinyl that came with loads of extra goodies including art work, badges, confetti and scratch and sniff stickers so it would be quite hard to top that!…

I’ve got some ace ideas for a concept album too (but they’re top secret for the moment!)

 – In your music you mix a lot of different influences and add unconventional sound effects, like Indian drones. How do these unusual mixes come about? What inspires them?

 – I bought a Tampura (which is little a drone box that makes sitar esc sounds) before we started the band after seeing bands like Super Fury Animals and Dead Meadow using one. I love the way it adds subtle eastern texture underneath the songs both live and on record.

 The other effects are largely down to our Guitarist Adam, he’s got his own magic box of tricks and has created a really unique style playing live using reverse guitar effects and a combination of reverb, delay and his e-bow.

 – You’ve played with various bands.  How was that experience for you? What did you take away from playing with them? 

 – Supporting The Pretty Things last year was a great experience, we’re all really inspired by their music and the music of that era so it was amazing to meet them and share a stage with them. Was also a pleasure to meet and support Chris Karloff (former songwriter in Kasabian) and his new band Black Onassis, he was a proper sound bloke! We’ve also played with some great new bands such as Dark Bells and Jacco Gardner.

 Playing with quality bands makes you up your own game to try to get to their level and even beyond.

– What’s your approach to making your live shows unforgettable? 

 – It’s a bit of a cliché but to get up on stage and have the chance to play music with some of your closest mates is something we’ll try and never take for granted and I hope our passion for what we do comes across when we play live. We’re doing it because we love it first and foremost, but we also rehearse a lot and are perfectionists when it comes to new songs to play live… we’re often quite self critical, but I think that makes us a better band by analysing and trying to improve after every gig.

When we put on our own nights we also use our own live visuals and have incense sticks to make it an ‘event’ or a ‘happening’ – like a multi-sensory experience as opposed to just a normal live show.

– Being based in Manchester, how are you influenced by your surroundings? 

 – I can’t put it into words really, if you could bottle up what Manchester has and sell it you’d make a fortune.

 I love Guy Garvey from Elbow’s quote about Manchester –  ‘They return the love round here, don’t they?’

 – What’s the ideal atmosphere for you for listening to a new album you’ve just bought? 

 – Early hours of the morning, in my lounge at home with a green tea! (rock n roll!)

 – What makes The Watchmakers stand out? 

– Perhaps the blending of key influences into our own unique sound. It’s really hard to be original but we’ve always tried to fill in the little gaps left by all our favourite bands. I always wished bands like The Verve had made more records, but hopefully somewhere in our music you can find little nuggets of Verve esc sounds or songs that that pay homage to The Beatles at their most trippy! We try to build sounds over good songs that evoke the spirit of great rock n roll from the last 50 plus years and somewhere within that melting pot of influences you get The Watchmakers.

– So far, what do you consider to be The Watchmakers’ biggest achievement?

 – We were recently in the NME which was pretty cool as we’ve grown up reading that magazine.

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