the black watch
John Andrew Fredrick — guitars, vocals
Steven Schayer — guitars, vocals
Rick Woodard — drums
Chris Rackford — bass
"the black watch is an absolute psych/janglepop treasure," Michael Toland of Trouser Press observed recently in the band's entry for that immortal indie rock resource, having seen the band play no less than three shows at the 2010 SXSW Music Conference. Now in their second decade as a band, the black watch have recently released their eleventh full-length, the cheekily titled and absolutely masterly LED ZEPPELIN FIVE. And as Gang of Four's Andy Gill remarked about 2005's THE HYPNOTIZING SEA: "LA has not produced a band as capable of both My Bloody Valentine miasma AND Nick Drake quietness in a long long time; shame that such a literate and melodic band has to rely on a tiny label out of Dorset UK to get its wonderful melodies heard!"
Formed in Santa Barbara, California by John Andrew Fredrick in the late 80s, tbw has a press kit the size of a small town phonebook, and a reputation (especially now that ex-The Chills Steven Schayer joined up two years ago) as a live act that is, to say the least, formidable.
"Steven and I have been best of friends for forever now," Fredrick says, "and it has always been my not so secret dream to have him play and sing in the black watch. Being in the not so easy to be in The Chills nearly killed off his interest in playing music! He had not performed or put out any music for 16 years or so, but when we started making the new LP, he bloomed! We both found that we harmonized like old friends ought to — and of course we are both in love with such Beatles songs as "Two of Us" and "And Your Bird Can Sing": songs, in other words, that are positively made via the harmonies."
Schayer adds: "It's funny, though: I turned to John and said 'Even though this is YOUR band, LED ZEP FIVE is MY record!"
And in a way Schayer's right: his singular singing and at once Velvety and Bunnymenish guitaring bring out aspects of TBW that were sort of dormant or unrealized during the days when violinist/guitarist/co-vocalist (and now member of Rod Stewart's band) J'Anna Jacoby served as Fredrick's foil. That era was, you'll find if you seek out the black watch's lenghty discography, a bit twee. But there is nothing airy-fairy about TBW circa 2010 — though they're doubtless as melodic and swirly and, as always, literary and poetic as they've always been.
Led Zeppelin Five CD (Powertool) 2010
After the Gold Room EP (Eskimo) 2008
Icing the Snow Queen CD (Eskimo) 2008
Tatterdemalion CD (Stonegarden) 2007
The Hypnotizing Sea CD (Pink Hedgehog UK) 2005
Innercity Garden EP (Pink Hedgehog UK) 2005
Very Mary Beth CD (Stonegarden) 2003
Jiggery-Pokery CD (Stonegarden) 2002
The Christopher Smart EP (Saltwater) 2001
Lime Green Girl CD (Saltwater) 2000
The King of Good Intentions CD (Not Lame) 1999
Seven Rollercoasters EP (Catapult) 1997
Amphetamines CD (Zero Hour) 1995
Flowering CD (Dr Dream) 1991
Short Stories EP (Eskimo) 1989
St Valentine LP (Eskimo) 1988