Making predictions about what band will or won’t break through in any given year is a fool’s game. I know this. I can only image how many A&R people over the years have rolled the dice on some band or other being the “next big thing,” came up snake eyes, and ended up losing their jobs.
Now, there’s absolutely no chance that I’ll lose my spot here at The Vault if I’m wrong about this (one of the perks of being the boss), but I hope that doesn’t in any way diminish the force of my conviction when I say this:
The Watchers are going to blow the fuck up in 2018.
Anyone who heard their 2016 EP Sabbath Highway most likely came away from it with the same reaction that I did – this is a band with almost unlimited potential. Anyone who was lucky enough to see them touring behind the EP was able to see that potential in action. The songs on Sabbath Highway are excellent, but their live show is incendiary.
Fortunately, The Watchers’ forthcoming full-length Black Abyss comes remarkably close to capturing the fire of their live show, thanks in no small part to the mixing job by the legendary Max Norman. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself…
Black Abyss is a total banger from start to finish, but it also sees the band stretch out and take more chances than they did on their debut EP. Nowhere is this more apparently than on “Buzzard,” the fourth track on Black Abyss. Latin-influenced percussion meets a seriously bitchin’ riff and some killer vocals on what’s easily my favorite of many standout tracks from Black Abyss. We’re thrilled to be premiering the track below, and to have a chance to talk to vocalist Tim Narducci again as we quickly approach the Black Abyss release date.
Black Abyss will be available on March 9 from Ripple Music. Snag your preorder here, and then come back and jam our exclusive premiere of “Buzzard” and my conversation with Tim.
Indy Metal Vault: So the last time I talked to The Watchers was back in June, not long before you played in South Bend on your way out to Maryland Doom Fest. Here we are roughly eight months later, and you look like you’re on the verge of seriously blowing up: Black Abyss is a monster of a record, and you have quite a few festival dates already lined up in both the US and Europe. I know that the reviews are starting to roll in and you recently had a listening party for fans – how have the responses been so far?
Tim Narducci: Thank you! The record has been pretty well received. From what I’ve seen so far, the reviews are pretty close to what we wanted to capture on Black Abyss. So that means it’s translating and connecting with the listener. It’s a heavy ride…
IMV: There are a couple of things that stood out to me about Black Abyss right away. One is that it seems to be a somewhat darker record than Sabbath Highway. The are a couple of exceptions, but on the whole the riffs feel a little heavier, the lyrics seem a bit more serious – hell, the album’s called Black Abyss. Were you intending to go in a darker direction this time around, or was that something that just came out in the songwriting process? Back in June, you said that Jeremy was more involved in the songwriting for the new album – is that just more indicative of his writing style?
TN: I think this record is a natural progression. When first got going as a band, we only played half a dozen times before we hit the studio to record Sabbath Highway. After that, we toured a bunch for that EP and that helped. We grew more as a unit, a brotherhood. That creates a unity hard to describe, trust and faith in what we’re going for musically. Not caring in what everybody else is doing, losing the safety net and believing in each other’s offering to the band. Jeremy and I came up with the core of the songs on Black Abyss and then brought them into the room for Cornbread and Carter to add their mojo… a lethal combination… really heavy, thought out songs.
IMV: The second thing that really struck me is how much swagger everyone plays with on Black Abyss. Now don’t get me wrong – I really like Sabbath Highway, but you guys sound like a much tighter, more confident band on the new album. You throw in a couple of unexpected elements, like that almost Latin-sounding drum progression on “Buzzard” (which is easily my favorite track on the album), and the acoustic parts on “Suffer Fool.” Jeremy’s leads are killer throughout as well. Did you approach recording any differently this time around?
TN: The approach was to just play what we were feeling at the time. Jeremy, Cornbread, and Carter are no joke and incredible musicians in their own right. Again, I think it was just a matter of settling in and taking some chances with rhythms and melodies. There are some songs that take a different turn on Black Abyss, but that’s the beauty of a full-length record, you can stretch it out a bit. The recording process itself was very similar to Sabbath Highway though. Same studio, mics, engineers, but with the final touch by the mighty Max Norman.
IMV: That’s a perfect segue – I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about working with Max Norman, who produced Ozzy’s first four solo albums. Black Abyss comes really close to capturing the energy of your live performances. Carter’s drums in particular sound crisp and absolutely massive. How did you end up working with him? Was his overall process much different that what you did for Sabbath Highway?
TN: Getting Max to mix the record was a dream come true. I grew up on Blizzard and Diary, they moulded me while young into a musician and a fan of amazing heavy rock and metal. One day Max popped up in a feed on Facebook. On a whim I asked our manager to reach out just see if he’d be into working with us, and he responded right away. We sent over “Alien Lust” and he liked it, so we moved forward and began mixing the rest of the record. It was a really fun process, getting to know our hero Max Norman. I fanboyed out a few times with many inquiries about recording Randy and Ozzy. A lot of references were used from those early Ozzy records. Solo volumes, vocal effects, etc. and the inside stories were incredible. Max is great guy with a big heart and his mixes just absolutely slay!
IMV: I love the cover art for Black Abyss. Who is the artist? How involved was the band in developing the concept for the art?
TN: Kiren Bagchee is the artist. We worked with him on the Sabbath Highway. He did the insert sleeve art. Incredibly talented dude. I actually stumbled across the cover on Facebook recently. He had just put the piece up for display, and literally within five minutes I bought it from him and asked him to take it down until the record was ready for release. The cover speaks to me. It’s beautiful and heavy and most importantly compliments the album.
IMV: I mentioned your festival dates earlier, and I know you’ve got a run of Southwestern dates leading up to SXSW. How extensively do you plan to tour the US this year? Any chance of seeing you in the Midwest again?
TN: We hope to support this record as much as possible. We’re really trying to take the next step and jump on some bigger tours going out this year. We’ll see how it plays out, and yes, the Midwest is definitely on our list.
IMV: Thanks again for taking the time to answer a few questions. I like to leave the last word to the artists – anything else you want to add?
TN: Check out Black Abyss over at Ripple Music and visit us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on tours, merchandise, and everything else we’ve got going on. Be sure to catch us live in a city nearby too. We look forward to breaking it off live for you all!
Upcoming Tour Dates:
3/9 Five Star Bar – Los Angeles, CA
3/10 Palo Verde – Tempe, AZ
3/11 Rock House – El Paso, TX
3/12 Desert Flower Art Lounge – Big Springs, TX
3/14 Spider House/Stoner Jam 18 – Austin, TX
3/15 Texas Mist/Stoner Daze – Austin, TX
3/16 Valhalla/Ripple Showcase – Austin, TX
3/17 Limelight/Ripple Fest – San Antonio, TX
3/18 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Albuquerque, NM
3/19 Bunkhouse – Las Vegas, NV
3/31 Club Fox – Redwood City, CA (Black Abyss Record Release Show)
5/5 DesertFest/Club Black Heart – Londo (UK)
6/23 Maryland Doom Fest/Cafe 611 – Frederick, MD