Even before The Last Shadow Puppets released their exacting self-titled debut in April 2008, the distinct well-tailored and trimmed style which evoked flashbacks to a time just before love was free has been engulfing our country’s emerging musicians.
From The Draytones to The Pipettes, the exciting stylisations that become ever more pronounced seem to destined to continue to strike a chord with today’s music loving generation.
And on Friday 14 August, Manchester’s iconic Night & Day Café will invite two of the country’s finest new acts – The Voyeurs and The Watchmakers – both of whom are as equally unique as the generation, but brought together by their love a good pinstripe suit.
Quenched Music caught up with The Watchmakers before their upcoming show to discuss the hidden undertones to their music, the day they trended on Twitter and why a Macedonian wanted to become a watchmaker.
Since you began performing under the guise of The Watchmakers how have you seen the music you have made develop? And how do you feel Manchester’s music scene has changed in that time?
“We started off with a very retro sound reminiscent of classic 60’s Psych bands. On our records the more traditional 60’s sounds will still be a huge part of our music, but we realised the only way to grow the band was by being a great live band, and that means we had to try and stand out and do something a bit different. Ad (our guitarist) started experimenting with bigger sounds using an e-bow and more delay and reverse guitar effects and we started to write songs with more driving baselines and grooves to try and grab people’s attention when playing live. A lot of the DNA from the 60’s inspired music is still at the route of most songs I write but they have taken on a new energy and power live over the last 18 months. When Andy joined the band on Bass in April 13, that also helped us progress as a live band and we’re constantly looking for new ways to stand out both live and when recording.
“I think the Current Manc music scene is looking really healthy compared to 3 years ago. There are loads of excellent bands around at the moment with their own kind of sound – Purple Heart Parade, The Underground Youth, Pins, Money etc.
Some bands have struggled to move their music to a geographically wider audience in the past. Curse that North/South divide. But how as a group do you aim to build on the momentum that is currently swinging behind yourselves? Or are you bothered about people from across the country hearing your music?
“Yeah of course. You want to reach as big an audience as possible. We recently had our vinyl’s out in record shops as far away as Berlin and Japan which is pretty cool. In terms of gigging it is quite hard work sometimes to get a decent show out of town, but having some momentum and following online definitely helps build the profile of the band. We’ve played London twice over the last year and both times the reception has been fantastic. The aim is to have another release out towards the end of this year or early next year and to use that platform to play throughout the UK and hopefully some shows in Europe too.
I am a massive fan on your track ‘Illumination’. It feels like a cauldron of wonderful fuzzing Northern ideas delivered in typically psychedelic fashion yet sounds completely originally. What was the inspiration behind that track?
“I’d been listening to bands like Hookworms and The Time & Space Machine at the time and just started writing around a really 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 like something off Urban Hymns by The Verve, but it seemed to flow naturally out of the verses and sound really uplifting. When I take ideas to the band they take on a greater energy, bigger sound and raw power – so when you add Ian’s driving motorik rhythm and Adam’s genius guitar work it become The Watchmakers. Lyrically I guess it’s about trying to break away from what the world tells you to be.
A few months back there was a massive, well-known campaign to save Night & Day Café. I think everyone who was everyone backed them to stay open. Are you happy to be able to play there still and where does it rate among the other venues you have played?
“Yeah, we ended up trending on twitter for the first time when we Tweeted ‘Save Night & Day’ a few months ago – it went mental with retweets and everyone was getting behind the campaign which was great to see! It’s an iconic Venue and somewhere that’s known all over the world. I’ve seen some great bands there as a punter so to play on that same stage is pretty surreal and special. I hope all that nonsense gets resolved soon as the Manchester I know is built on Music and the whole creative hub within the Northern Quarter probably wouldn’t have existed without places like Night & Day, Dry Bar et al leading the way.
And finally, given you have been playing for three years, what’s your most comically memorable moment that has occurred within The Watchmakers?
“It’s difficult to think of many that are printable or stories that aren’t just us laughing at each other!
A couple of years ago we put an advert out looking for creative types to help make a music video and/or live visuals for us on Gumtree. We had a very amusing reply from some chap called ‘Erdal’ who was from Macedonia. He basically wrote us a massive letter in broken English explaining how he had studied watchmaking for 15-20 years and could work with all types of watches – mechanical, electrical and even clocks – and he went on to tell us how he would love the opportunity to work for our company and be part of our Watchmaking team! I guess that’s proper Horology!”
For ticket information visit Night & Day Cafe’s website at http://www.nightnday.org/
Words by Clive K Hammond