Victoria, Texas’s The Watchers aren’t your typical stoner/doom band. Comprised of former SpiralArms members Tim Narducci (vocals) and Cornbread (bass), ex-Orchid drummer Carter Kennedy, and guitarist Jeremy Von Eppic, the band’s debut EP Sabbath Highway is a hard-charging riff-fest that owes more to Randy Rhodes-era Ozzy Osbourne than Tony Iommi, all topped off with Narducci’s versatile, bluesy vocals. It’s a refreshing listen, and I’m anxious to hear how well the songs translate to the stage when the band hit Smith’s Downtown Tap and Grill in Mishawaka on June 22.
Ahead of the gig, Tim Narducci was good enough to answer a few questions for us via email.
Indy Metal Vault: So first off, I’ve got to say I’m really digging Sabbath Highway. I know it’s been out for a few months now. What has the response been like so far? Have you had much of a chance to gig behind it yet?
Tim Narducci: Sabbath Highway came out November 2016. The response has been great. We’re already into our second pressing of vinyl and the reviews have been in favor of what we’re doing. We’ve played about 20 shows so far supporting the EP, including a West Coast Tour last October.
IMV: How did The Watchers end up coming together? I know most of you have been involved in other projects, not all of which were in the stoner/doom vein.
TN: The band came together after Cornbread and I parted ways with SpiralArms. We had been doing that for 12 years or so, there was some inner turmoil amongst another member and I, so I felt it was time to move on and do something new. I met Carter through a mutual friend. He was brought in as a session drummer for a band I was producing/recording in 2015. We hit it off as friends and I really liked his drumming. I have known Jeremy since 1998 and always thought He was an incredible guitarist. We spoke about putting a band together and here we are.
IMV: Given the musical backgrounds of some of your members (particularly Orchid) and the fact that the word ‘Sabbath’ is in the title of the EP, I had certain expectations going in to listening to the EP, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by your sound – it’s got the same kind of swagger as a lot of 80’s hard rock, and I think I even hear a bit of grunge influence on “Call the Priest.” Were you going for that specific sort of sound? What were your main influences on the record?
TN: Our vision is something that a little off the beaten path of your typical Stoner/Doom vibe, so there’s some of that there. But It seems a bulk of what’s being put out these days has been done many times over: a blown out tone, milked riff, and vocals that just get by. I dig it, but I love a great song most. The Beatles, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Allman Bros, ZZ Top are all major influences. They have a distinct vibe but also have great songs that take you away, they become soundtracks to our lives, I reach for that in every song we make. I remember when I first got Blizzard of Ozz as a kid and it fucking floored me. That’s the vibe we wanted to capture, that excitement. Great heavy songs…
IMV: Since each of the tracks on the EP have a slightly different feel to them, I’m curious as to what your songwriting process is like. Do you write individually? Jam songs out in the rehearsal room? A bit of both?
TN: Our writing process happens in a few ways. The most common is just sitting around riffing on the guitar at home. Then Jeremy and I get together at his studio a few times a week when it’s time to get some songs rolling. Jeremy has contributed a lot in the upcoming album, a few whole songs that I just penned lyrics and melody to. We’ll get the basic composition of the tune and bring it into rehearsal. Carter and Cornbread throw their ideas in and some great things happen. It’s been a fun process with these guys. The new record covers a whole bunch of ground, music we’re super stoked on.
IMV: I always like to ask at least one question about gear. I really dig the guitar and bass tones on the record – particularly the lead guitar, which has a nice warmth to it. What do your rigs look like? Are they basically the same in the studio and on stage?
TN: Thanks! We use Marshalls and Orange amps and cabs. The solo tone was based off of Randy Rhodes’s solo tone. Direct and room mics, I cranked up the room mic in the mix and it’s loud as fuck on the record, much like the records we grew up on. Most of it though had to do with Jeremy’s hand tone, He’s is truly an amazing player. The rigs are pretty much the same on stage. We did use a Lunchbox MESA/Boogie Mark V for rhythm guitars, though.
IMV: What can people expect from your live show beyond the songs on the EP? Are you road testing any new material?
TN: We’ll be playing most likely 4 new songs on the Sabbath Highway Tour along with the 4 on the EP. We also have a couple of surprise covers we break out now and again.
IMV: Last question: what’s next for The Watchers after this run of dates? Will there be a full-length coming any time soon?
TN: After this tour we go into mixing our full length record. All of the tracking will be done before we hit the road. After that more shows into the Fall leading up to the album’s release. Our sights are set on getting over to Europe in 2018.