Originally published in 2015 - Watershed returns to Comfest June 24th, 2017. Click here for details on that show and other gigs.
Day 6 (Songs 11-1)
Manifesto (What I Like To Do) (11): Talk about a breath of fresh air. This little gem just kills it. “If Jerry was alive today, I’d kick him in the balls” is wonderful. The “I ain’t hurting nobody except my body” definitely is something that I really want to tell my doctor at my next checkup.
Colin G. - We knew going into Brick & Mortar we had to change up our entire approach to recording. With Joe O. living 600 miles away, we simply didn't have the luxury to rehearse and woodshed every idea the way we had the previous four records. More so, our actual time to record the record would be much tighter than the previous two, where we basically worked for as long as it took to make a record we were happy with. So we decided to embrace a more "Bob Dylan" approach to the project. We locked ourselves inside Curry House with Mike Landolt and just went from one song to the next very quickly: arrangements on the fly and very little second guessing. Once we had the song down, boom, Mike hit record and we went until we had a great take. Joe Peppercorn was critical to this approach as he provided a "Patalan-esque" musicianship that would be missing since we were tracking in Columbus away from The Loft.
Anyway….. after one long day in the studio I ended up at the Treebar. I then ended up back on the sofa at Curry House. I had this lick lying around and feeling buzzed & exhausted, I just scribbled down the words on a notebook and passed out. The next morning the guys showed up and I showed them the idea. Before I even brushed my teeth we made the necessary additions and subtractions and tracked "Manifesto."
The point of this long-winded story is that if we had had the time to think about this song for two weeks or practice it 100 times, I can almost guarantee we would have talked ourselves out of it or ruined the fun with over-thinking. I'm sure somebody would have said, "Guys, you can't sing about kicking the deceased Jerry Garcia in the balls. That will kill sales in San Francisco." Instead we caught lightning in a bottle and Jerry got kicked in the balls. Win - Win.
Ricki C. - Nick Lowe's production credo for Elvis Costello & the Attractions' 1978 masterpiece album This Year's Model was "Bash it down and we'll tart it up later." From all accounts - confirmed by Colin's explanation above - that pretty much sums up the Brick & Mortar prod-style. In my rankings of Watershed albums I have Brick & Mortar second after The More It Hurts. (Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know The Fifth Of July is great, but I think the songwriting on Brick just beats it out.) (And on the Ricki C. rock & roll planet, songwriting ALWAYS wins out over production. I'm a pretty firm believer in the proverb, "They shoulda released the demos.")
But I digress.......I love everything about "Manifesto." (I heartily believe Joe Peppercorn would disagree with me on this point.) I love the lyrics, I love the riff, I love that the song is serious AND fun, simultaneously. ("Serious fun" is pretty much my definition of rock & roll.) I love the line, "Underground Garage won't play this song because our name is lame / What else do you expect when you start in seventh grade?" because it's right on the money; if Watershed was called The Riptides or The Parachutes, Little Steven & Company would be all over 'em.
Most of I love that the chorus progresses from "This is what I like to do" to "This is what I wanna do" to, crucially, "This is what I HAVE to do." Watershed aren't fly-by-night/listen-to-what-we-wrote-on-our laptops/in-ear-monitor/johnny-come-lately assholes, they are True Believers in the rock & roll, and I'm proud to haul their amps.
Joe O. - "All the politicians together couldn't form one band, but if they did, I'd have to guess they'd sound a lot like Styx" is such a good line it makes me want to break stuff. In Minneapolis last weekend, Colin and I decided that if all the Wall Street investment bankers decided to form a band, it would sound like Bon Jovi. Also: When Colin pronounces the word "poli-tish-ee-ans," he's borrowing that from Ray Davies in the Kinks' song "Apeman."
Did you know the extremely talented Milan Karcic made a video made a video for "Manifesto"?
The Fifth of July (10): Another gem from what may be the band’s best studio release.
Ricki C. - I would concur with Mr. Jezierny that this tune is a gem, and possibly Tim Patalan's production high-water mark with Watershed, but - as stated above - I still think The More It Hurts is their best studio release. (Taking it one step further, I think The More It Hurts is the best album release ever out of Columbus, Ohio. Second would The Whiles Colors Of The Year in 2004. Third would be The Godz first album, back in the 1970's.) (Yeah, I said that, and I put it in writing.) (The best record ever out of Columbus SHOULD have been a Romantic Noise album - Willie Phoenix's all-time best band, back in 1978 - but that particular slice of wax never got recorded.)
Joe O. - This song was made infinitely better by Tim Patalan, when he suggested that the verses needed twice as many words. Then he told me to phrase them like Van Morrison (actually he said Thin Lizzy, which is pretty much the same thing). You can hear this clearly in the lines "Feeling alright but not looking too cool, caught me peeking through the fence of your best friend's swimming pool. Radio playing my favorite song..." and so on.
Colin G. - Tim would leave us alone for long periods of time at The Loft and the only entertainment besides playing was watching a VCR. Around this time the ONLY video for ten miles was The Rolling Stones' Rock n Roll Circus. So we watched it. A bunch. Obviously, The Who performing "A Quick One While He is Away" is the highlight of the video and maybe western culture. So...... after 20 beers one night Dave started doing his spot-on Keith Moon impression while we were practicing "5th of July." "Dude, play it like that when we record it." "But I'm just messing around." "Play it like that." And so it was.....
Our best video was shot in 8 hours and cost $750; $200,000 less than the Train video being shot at the same time. (Or so we heard.) Which video is a better value? You be the judge.
Watershed for $750
Train "Give Myself to You" for $200,000
Broken (9): This probably is the song that wouldn’t make most people’s top 10 Watershed songs. (Of course, I’m assuming people other than myself actually think about stuff like this.) I just think it’s a ridiculously good song.
Joe O. - I agree, Nick. Definitely one of my favorites from Brick & Mortar. I always hear this song as being inspired by Springsteen. Colin hears it (especially the main guitar lick) as being inspired by Bob Mould. I'm right, of course, but either way, the song is great.
Colin G. - Brick & Mortar was pretty close to being finished when one day, while driving back from Pittsburgh, I was listening to "Who's Next" and it was just crushing our record. As soon as I got home I told Mike Landolt to stop mixing and let me add another big 100- watt guitar to a couple of tracks. I promised one pass only. That extra guitar saved "Broken." You can hear it at the top. It's the one with balls. FYI - I think this was the only song we didn't play in Raleigh for the Watershed Weekend or whatever when we played like 75 songs. No reason. Just sort of forgot.
No footage of this one so enjoy Watershed covering the Scrawl classic "Charles" at Comfest in 1823. We have always had much in common with our sister band Scrawl. We both love Cheap Trick. We are both resented by real musicians for only using 3 or 4 chords. We both use two vocalists who play guitar & bass and who could possibly be dating each other.
Black Concert T-Shirt (8): This is the song where Watershed announced what it was all about. I loved it when I heard the remake that kicks off “The More It Hurts, The More It Works.” Definitely on any workout mix on my iPod. I love the Black Sabbath-y riff in the middle of the song.
Joe O. - Both versions of the song are cool, but this one better captures the feeling of going to a live show, which is what the song is all about. Interestingly, Andyman Davis from CD101 (now 102.5) in Columbus always liked the other version better, because it has words in the bridge. Speaking of words, when we recorded the original version of this song for Star Vehicle, the producer, Frank Aversa, tried to talk us into changing "baby you don't give two shits" to "don't give two fish sticks." I love you, Frank, buddy, but that's wack. Even Mrs. Paul would agree.
Colin G. - The "Black Sabbath-Y lick" is actually "Paranoid." Tim talked us into doing this very late one night. We resisted for a million obvious reasons, but he captured a whole different version of the song. When the solo came I just played a Sabbath riff and I have no idea why. Tim - "flawless." So there you go.
Obvious (7): “Do shots first, ask questions later on” is as fine of an opening lyric as there is. Another energetic ball of fury to kick off a record.
Joe O. - Because of the "smelling the latest issue of Seventeen" line, lots of people seem to think that this song is about me going home with an underage girl, and given what I wrote in Hitless Wonder about how I met my wife, I guess I can't blame them. But come on. You don't have to be 17 (or less) to read Seventeen. You do, however, have to be 17 (or less) to read Maxim Magazine.
Colin G. - My memory of this song is we were rehearsing for recording the 5th of July in downtown Columbus on Gay St where Due Amici is now located. Our pal Jeff Mathis was rehabbing the building and being a rock n roll sort of guy, he let us use the space for pre-production for 5th of July. We had finally wised up and while getting ready to record we took six months off from live shows and just rehearsed new material four nights a week until we got what we needed. I remember one night, we worked on the bridge for "Obvious" from 8 pm until 1 am. That is ALL we worked on. Mind you, the bridge is like 15 seconds long. When we wrapped up for the night Dave just got up from the drums, looked at Joe and I and said, "One fucking bridge for five hours? You guys are crazy."
Suckerpunch (6): This is the live version. From the intro to the lyrics and the power in the recording, it’s a masterpiece. The song really hit home for me a few years ago and it became my personal mantra after getting screwed over at work. I really did get suckerpunched, and this version was helpful to me during that time. I have a friend here in Boise who just loves the solo on the outro (is that even a word?) of the song and he says he will rewind and keep playing it over and over. If I made this list two years ago, this would have been No. 1. It remains a favorite. “Now I’m passing out on a couch that can tell me some stories” is a wonderful visual. What a great tune.
Joe O. - I agree that the live version is the definitive version. The ending may be a tad overblown, but, man, whenever we play it, I'm like, "Damn, this band is rocking. Oh, wait. That band is us."
Everywhere I Turn (5): Just an extremely catchy song that I can’t believe isn’t a part of the band’s regular set. I would have made this the single from “Twister.”
Ricki C. - I must admit, I had not one memory of this song and was forced to pull out my Twister CD to see what was up with the Number 5 ranking. Nick, I gotta respectfully disagree and put this tune somewhere down in the 40's. And if Colin or Joe remember it right offhand, I'm gonna say they're lying.
Joe O. - This one is pretty catchy. But Number 5? Seriously? This song is hard for me to listen to because the mix is so thin and trebly. Seems like all that money we dumped into the Power Station should have bought us a bass knob on the mixing board.
Colin G. - I remember Joe and I riding the subway out to Danny Lawson's house in the pre- gentrified Brooklyn to work on the vocal arrangements. We got some good work done, but waiting to return back to the city on an empty subway platform surrounded by the Turnbull AC's in the middle of the night, I wondered if it had been worth it. Even though we escaped bodily harm at the hands of a Warrior-style NYC street gang, I don't think it was worth it. Seriously? #5? Huh?
Let's just forget about "Everywhere I Turn" and check out this super rare video of "Anniversary" from Jack Cain's home, the Poorhouse in Raleigh, NC.
Star Vehicle (4): This is the song that turned me on to Watershed. Heard it on CD 101, and then I moved to El Paso, Texas, shortly after it came out. It’s amazing that I lived in Columbus for seven years when Watershed was on the rise and I never saw them live. I heard of them, but did not really know them. I was more of a Z-Rock listener and caught more shows at the Alrosa Villa or focused on national bands. I don’t think Columbus radio really backed the band enough in the early years. I began my love affair with the band from afar and preached about them ever since. Nothing beats coming down a great mountain bike trail in our Idaho mountains with this song coming through the headphones. Great track! This also should have been on “Three Chords II."
Joe O. - I can't believe that CD101 played this song. Q-FM? Sure, that would have made sense. The Blitz? Maybe. But CD freaking 101? That station has been way too kind to us (and I hope they don't stop).
Ricki C. - So you know how somewhere back in the rankings I said how much I enjoyed when Watershed would insert an entire song into the middle of "Mercurochrome?" One night at some long-forgotten show when I was still just a fan/spectator before I was a roadie, the band inserted AN ENTIRE SET into the pause at the 3:07 mark. Colin & the boys stopped DEAD at that point, went into another song and then just continued the show all the way to the end when they paused again AND THEN WENT BACK INTO the "Going for a ride" sing-a-long to end the set. Fucking brilliant.
Colin G. - After getting dropped from Epic and all that, we had the title for the next album, but needed the title track. Probably our best attempt at Kinks meets Cheap Trick via kids from Ohio.
If That’s How You Want It (3): The Star Vehicle version is really immeasurably better than the original. It’s as if the band says “Screw it. We’re going to record this how we originally wanted” and then just gave the performance of a lifetime in the studio. The build up to the “na na na” part is tantalizingly awesome. I can honestly say whenever that part of the song comes on, the hair on the my arms kind of stands up. It’s really a tremendous tune. And even though it’s pushing 5 minutes, it doesn’t drag at all. It builds up and delivers. Was No. 1 until about 3 minutes ago when I rock, paper and scissored the final three.
Joe O. - The power of the "na-na-na," man. Journey knew it. Sha-Na-Na knew it. Whoever put the "ram" in the "rama-lama-ding-dong" knew it.
Colin G. - I kind of blew my wad on this one talking about the Twister version. Ranked like #256 or something.
Can’t Be Myself (2): Still don’t know how this song wasn’t a national hit. I included this song on my “I’m A Man, I’m 40! Life Soundtrack” that I put together back in 2007. While it borrows from The Replacements’ “Answering Machine,” it is not a ripoff in any way. This is simply what a hit song sounds like. How record labels passed on this amazes me. That it’s not No. 1 on the list also bother me.
Joe O. - I guess you could say this was a local hit. Hearing it in Ohio Stadium during game day was about the coolest thing ever. Other than AC/DC, Queen, and, strangely, Neil Diamond, not many bands have their songs blasted over stadium speakers.
Colin G. - I like this song, but if I was going to have to pick one Watershed song that everybody would just go bat-shit crazy about I probably wouldn't have picked this one. But what do i know? I'm the guy on record saying, "Hootie and the Blowfish are a good bar band, but they will never sell any records." I'm glad people enjoy it and hearing it on the radio or over loudspeakers is always a treat.
The Best Is Yet To Come (1): The live version of this song just kills it. The song has a killer bridge and the live performance on “Three Chords II” is epic. When the “yeah yeah” vocals speed up and trade off into the final push of the song, there is just nothing better. “Don’t forget they didn’t knock you out / you’re just sitting in the corner bleeding from your mouth” … well, just about everyone in the world has felt like that at some point. This inspirational song still gets played when my mood isn’t where it needs to be. Honestly, the studio version doesn’t crack my top 25, which goes to show just how incredibly good the live version of this song is. When I saw it performed at the Bluestone as the opening song last December, it was equally as cool. Deserves to be No. 1.
Colin G. - Lots going on in this little ditty. Do you know this was the official State of Ohio tourism song in 2011-12? It got chosen over a Rascal Flatts song. Not because it was cheaper. No way. Because it was better. As an interesting aside, I cannot name one Rascal Flatts album or song though I think one member may be named Gary.
Joe O. - This is pretty much the Watershed philosophy. If we didn't believe it, we'd quit.
Please enjoy this super cool video shot from through the eyes of Dave Masica as Watershed takes the stage in 2013.
Alright suckers, there you go. Thanks for reading. Now please, go get a life why don't you?