Youâ€™ve been in Watershed for more than twenty-five years; what was the evolution ofÂ your book?
This musicianâ€™s life Iâ€™ve lived started in high school, and weâ€™ve been telling the stories for years, but I didnâ€™t write do any creative writing until graduate school. I graduated with an MFA from Ohio State in 2007; my thesis was an early draft of this book. It was totally different. I started at the beginning and told the story of Watershed chronologically. It was an important draft because it was me telling myself the story, but it wasnâ€™t a book anyone would want to read. I wrote 400 pages and barely got us out of college.
What was the impetus behind playing around with the timeline and going back and forth between past and present?
What I learned writing the crappy thesis version is the truly interesting thing about us is that weâ€™re guys in our forties with all the inherent responsibilities. The story is â€śOld Guys Still Doing It After All These Years.â€ť After figuring that out, I wanted to create dramatic irony so that the reader knows what happens to us, but the younger versions of ourselves have no idea. I want readers to say, â€śDude, youâ€™ll still be doing thisÂ at fortyÂ and you have no idea.â€ť
Whatâ€™s it like writing songs compared to prose? Is one easier than the other?
Prose is harder. Simply because, when youâ€™re writing rock-n-roll at least, you can bank on the rhythm, the volume of the guitars, and the bandâ€™s sheer rockiness. In prose, you have to create all of it through words. Itâ€™s a nifty trick to pull off.
Has writing lyrics all these years helped your second writing career?
The biggest help is being conscious of the fact that youâ€™re writing for an audience. Playing music, you can see the audience right in front of you, so youâ€™re always conscientious of it. I teach creative writing at Coastal Carolina University and students always struggle with that idea. I have to remind them that a diary or journal is for you; otherwise, youâ€™re writing for somebody else. Being a musicianÂ makes you aware of serving an audience. In writing, itâ€™s â€śKill your darlings.â€ť In music, itâ€™s â€śDonâ€™t bore us, get to the chorus.â€ť
What does writing, especially being a published author, give you that music doesnâ€™t?
Writing is lonely and kind of scary, but itâ€™s fun to be on my own, seeing if I can survive the loneliness and lack of immediate audience response. Iâ€™m a band guy and I love the communal ethos, but I have enjoyed staring at a blank page and seeing if I can pull it off. I like being in that difficult position.
It seems like the kind of no-frills rock music that Watershed plays was much bigger in the 1970s. Do you ever feel like you were too late to the scene?
Itâ€™s true. Our big influences were groups like Cheap Trick, who played straight-ahead meat-and-potatoes rock-n-roll, and by the time we came around everything was lo-fi and indie. R.E.M. and the Replacements. We're a mainstream commercial FM radio rock band, so the timing wasnâ€™t great. But then in the late 1990s and early 2000s, that sound came back a little bit. Weâ€™re not that much like Blink-182, but thereâ€™s a similarity in a pop-punk, short catchy songs with loud guitars, aesthetic that was popular again. We kind of missed that train too. Thatâ€™s why we titled one of our albumsÂ The 5th of July. Watershedâ€™s timing is always horrible -- perpetually a day late and a dollar short.