Thereâs a scene in the book where a shuttered Charleston rock club has a sign in the window that says âSupport Live Music.â Is âHitless Wonderâ an elegy for rock clubs?
Good cheap spots for live performances are going away. In the late â80s and early â90s there was a network of clubs that indie bands could play. Thereâs a handful left, but each town used to have five clubs to play. Even the tentpoles like CBGB, or Stashâs in Columbus, are gone. Itâs hard to make a go of it with a rock club featuring live original music. I donât know if bands donât tour because gas is too expensive, itâs easier to get a video on YouTube and songs on iTunes, and the clubs are gone, or if clubs donât open because thereâs no audience, but the combination of all of it means the ten bands for $10 a night scene is gone.
If you hadnât been signed by Epic, would you have kept going, after having tasted what itâs like to blow up?
I donât know. On the one hand, the Epic deal was a giant infusion of energy that propelled us beyond the year that it lasted. So looking at it that way, it seems like thereâs no way weâd be together. But then again, IÂ knowÂ us. Weâre some stubborn sons-of-bitches. Combine that with ridiculous levels of optimism and I could see us out on the road saying weâre going to get it. That it might not even be a record deal, but just writing a better song, recording a better album, playing a better show... In fact, that is what weâre chasing. Itâs not about rock stardom anymore, if it ever was.
You say in the book that you hated realizing how much of a role happenstance plays, but it feels like so much of Watershedâs history is missed opportunities that werenât necessarily of your own making.
I honestly donât know if they were of our own making or not. We definitely had bad timing, but did we have bad luck? Maybe. But to get where we are, where weâve been, took a tremendous amount of good luck. The spark that got us signed to Epic Records was a package we sent off to a girl we went to high school with who happened to be dating a guy who knew Jim Steinman, who wrote Meat LoafâsÂ Bat Out of HellÂ songs. I have a hard time saying we would have made it but for bad luck. These things are complicated. Itâs like love. What makes one band catch on with the public instead of another? Maybe itâs just some intangible âitâ that some bands have and others donât. In many ways, those things are out of a bandâs control. Weâve learned over all these years to focus on writing the best songs we can write, playing the best shows we can play, and hope the rest takes care of itself.
Did you read a lot of rock-n-roll memoirs before starting "Hitless Wonder?"
I read Jacob SlichterâsÂ âSo You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star,â Jen TryninâsÂ âEverything Iâm Cracked Up to Be,â and a bit of the twisted heavy metal Nikki Sixx kind of stuff, but I didnât want to do exhaustive music biography research. I didnât want to be influenced too much by their stories, or have the fear that thereâs too many similarities. Instead, I read a lot of other memoirs and tried to apply what I found to this particular story. J.R. MoehringerâsÂ âThe Tender BarâÂ was important. It told me, âThis wonât be hard if I just tell the story.â It was hard,Â really freaking hard, butÂ âThe Tender BarâÂ made me realize actual human beings can do this.