5 minutes with Charles Watson

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down and grabbing 5 with Charles Watson. For those not familiar with Charles Watson or his work, he’s a London based songwriter/producer/writer and member of the indie duo Slow Club and garage-rock supergroup The Surfing Magazines.

Hi Charles! When did you first get into music?

Mmm, my earliest memory is trying to learn the viola. I really didn’t enjoy it but kind of wish I’d stuck with it now. It would be pretty handy to be able to bosh out a string arrangement!

Does music run through your family?

My folks really love music, but they don’t play any instruments. My Dad used to make these home movies and put really dark 80’s Leonard Cohen songs over the top. They’re pretty strange films!

Charles Watson

You’ve just released your new album ‘Now that I’m a River’, where did your inspiration for this album come from?

From lots of places really. I’m into eavesdropping on stranger’s conversations. I liked the idea of the words being informal and direct on this record. Some of the songs themes were drawn from the book ‘Hello America’. It’s full of big American cars and lizards. David Ike is basically going to love it!

Could you briefly describe the music-making process?

Normally I tend to repeat the same bit of music over and over until it’s sitting properly. That’s what takes the most time for me. I like recording versions of the same thing and seeing how it evolves. Most of the time the very first time you play something it’s full of mistakes, but there’s an intensity there that’s impossible to recreate. I tried to do things a little different on this record though. I kept the songs as bare as possible until I played them to the band in the studio. I wanted the first recording to be the album version rather than getting attached to a crappy demo version. I’ve been there, it’s annoying for everyone involved. So what you hear on the record is essentially everyone learning the song and trying to figure it out as we go.

How has your music evolved since you first started?

Musically there are things I’m always drawn to and I always go back to. I guess you go off and get into one thing for a while and then that informs the next thing you do and so on. I’ve kind of got an idea of how I want the next record to sound but have no idea how to achieve so will need to do a bit of trial and error stuff. I still like the same lyrical themes I’ve always liked. I’m not sure how to describe what that is in a meaningful way, but I think that stuff gets forged when you’re a teenager and it’s almost impossible to get away from. Sorry that was a waffler!

Charles Watson

What’s your most favourite and least favourite thing about touring?

Favourite thing is probably eating out all the time!!! Love to find good places to eat!! Least favourite is… bad meals!

What’s your fondest musical memory?

I like seeing people in guitar shops playing Metallica solos. That’s the best!! It’s even better if they’ve got a mate waiting for them to finish!

You’ve recently been in the BBC Radio 6 live lounge, could you give us an overview of that experience?

The 6music session was good fun. It’s always a bit nerve wracking doing those things but it’s best to think about them like you’re in a room with your mates playing some songs.

When you were growing up, who was your inspiration and why?

I really liked Randy Rhodes because he was a total badass guitar player. It’s completely over the top and brilliant. I was a shredded once upon a time.

What piece of advice would you give to somebody starting out in the music industry?

Make friends with change.

Charles Watson

We had the pleasure of you performing at the John Lewis Summer of Sound event, what were your thoughts on the event?

I really enjoyed it, thanks for having me! The sun was shining, the cocktails were flowing!! What’s not to love?!

What do you think of your Ruark R4?

I’ve just got back from a two week tour and have been really eager to get back and set it up. I’ve just got it all plumbed and I’m listening to James Brown through it right now, and let me tell you… it’s cooking! I love it. It looks and sounds brilliant. I didn’t realise there were speakers on the underside too! Nice touch.

If you could describe your unique style, what would it be?

Pioneering Yorkshire Dream Rock! Haha.

How do you like to relax when you aren’t working?

I like to cook. I have just had a major breakthrough with Moussaka. It blew my mind. I can’t tell you what the breakthrough is, but it’s fairly major. Tray bakes are never going to be the same.

Charles Watson

How would/do you handle mistakes during a performance?

Do it again and everyone thinks you were meant to do it!

Do you get nervous before performing?

Half of the time I’m nervous all of the time.

What’s the ultimate direction you would like to take your music?

I’m not sure you know. I never plan that far ahead. I try and think about what’s right in front of me. I like to think I’ll just keep making records. I love the process of starting a new one and the excitement of not knowing where the thing will end up. It’s like the longest, most expensive box set you’ll ever watch.