Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday Spotlight - The Watson Twins

Today I have a super special early-bird look at The Watson Twins' new album Fire Songs, which is coming out next month on the 24th. Normally I wouldn't post about something coming out so far away, but I was really excited to check this album out and to share it with all of you. I've been consistently listening to it for the last couple of weeks.

Chandra and Leigh Watson were kind enough to share their thoughts and ideas on Old Ways, the tenth track on the album, reveal why the new album is titled Fire Songs even though there's no track by the same name, and admitted wearing matching poodle skirts. As always, text in red is theirs, questions in black are mine.


This song was one of the first written for our new record, Fire Songs (Vanguard Records, June 2008). It actually started forming on the road when we were on tour opening for Matt Costa In comparison to writing at home, there is a different kind of inspiration found out in the world, playing shows, meeting new folks, long late night drives and a whole lotta bars. Traveling in a van with your band mates, eating together, sharing hotel rooms, sound checking, let’s just say there isn’t a lot of "alone time"… so when writing this song I’d often sneak away to a back hallway of a club as we were waiting for the doors to open and just play the song and sing the lyrics over and over… committing each line to memory as it formed, building each verse slowly day by day.

Once it was done, the vocal harmonies that Leigh (my sis) and Russ Pollard (drummer/producer) brought to the table just immediately solidified the vibe… as well as the sorghum sweet lead on the instrumental verse from J. Soda (Guitarist/Producer) and the solid/soulful bass line of Matt Fitzell. It just naturally fell in to place and that always brings a special attachment to a song.

Old Ways was originally titled Fire Song because of the chorus "you’re always on fire, your old ways being wild"… as we started working on the record the title of the song changed, but we still liked the visual imagery of the words Fire Songs and since it was the first written it only seemed fitting to title the record this, marking the beginning of our writing adventure.

And a few questions for the twins (C=Chandra, L=Leigh):

1.) You do a beautiful job of taking The Cure's Just Like Heaven [it's the fourth track on the new album] and making it your own, although it takes on an almost wistfully melancholic tone to it. What inspired you to cover the song?

C: We were at home in Kentucky for Christmas and WFPK, the local station there, was doing a count down... top "1000 songs of all time"..."Just Like Heaven" came on and Leigh and I were singing along with the radio, talking about what a great song it was and Leigh suggested that we try and cover it. After we got back to LA, Leigh learned it on the guitar and brought it in to rehearsal giving it her own spin. We started playing it with the band and it just all came together. We played it a handful of times live and the crowd was in to it, so we decided to put in on our new record "Fire Songs".
L: It was pretty cool how it all came together. I always loved the original version of the song, and covers are definitely dangerous, but this one just came so easily it seemed like the right thing.

2a.) Working with Jenny Lewis on Rabbit Fur Coat obviously helped bring your own music into a larger listening public’s ear and brought you more recognition. Did you find while working on this new album that you were affected musically by working with Jenny?

C: Of course, I think every musical collaboration affects you, it becomes a part of your creative life and that's where each song begins.
L: Agreed, its all part of your own personal history. You are always learning, absorbing, growing. I think experiences like what we had with Lewis and RFC changed us not only as songwriters, but just as people. You spend a year on the road traveling and going to amazing places you find inspiration and you evolve.

2b.) Do you think the sound of this album would have been different if you had not collaborated with her?

C: The sounds on our album "Fire Songs" come from the music that has influenced us... country, indie, classic rock, jazz, R&B, soul... and I would say Jenny, my sis and I have similar records in our collections and get inspired by those, so the fact that we share a similar taste in music probably has more to do with our sound than our specific collaboration on RFC.
L: For sure. The sound comes from a pretty specific place, it's something we have been moving towards for years. It's a reflection of all of our musical experiences.

2c.) Any future plans to record another album together?

C: Not currently, we all have a lot on our plates but the future is full of possibilities and we do have a lot of fun singing together.
L: Never say never.

3.) Growing up as identical twins, you must have some great stories. Can you share one that stands out as either particularly funny or embarrassing (for one or both of you!)?

C: wow... that's a tough one... Leigh?
L: Funny and embarrassing...we performed It's My Party (...and I'll cry if I want to) for our middle school talent show in poodle skirts that our mom hand made with choreographed dance moves. If only we had made it to Star Search. hahhaha.


The album opens up with How Am I To Be, a track that will serve as a bridge for those listeners who caught on to the twins through their work with Jenny Lewis. It's got a feel to it that would have blended right in with Rabbit Fur Coat. The sisters don't just try to copy what they did with Lewis though, and on the second track, Lady Love Me, they quickly head off on their own direction, staking claim to musical ground that is distinctly theirs.

It's clear once you listen to their own work what the influence the Watson Twins had on Jenny Lewis and Rabbit Fur Coat, an album that is quite far away from her work with Rilo Kiley, and much closer to what you'll find on Fire Songs. Most immediately evident will be the sisters' voices, at times warmly welcoming and at others displaying that distant melancholy I mentioned on their cover of Just Like Heaven. Regardless of the tone though, their two voices work together seamlessly and beautifully, and carry a depth to them that will pull you in.

I've really been enjoying the album, and am eager to check out the twins on the supporting tour (although dates haven't been announced). I think that this album is going to prove that the sisters can make music of their own that is equally deserving of your ears' attention. Enjoy the following early peek and start counting down to June 24th, when the album will be available.

Visit their website, their label Vanguard Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

1 comment:

David Lindqvist said...

New layout huh? Me likey!