We arrived at Dorchester Arts Centre nice and early to allow ourselves plenty of time to set up cameras, that would capture a song from Gerard and the Watchman's live show. We got there much earlier than expected and found ourselves helping to put out chairs for the concert. It was as we squeezed the final chair into position that we realised we would be in for an exceptionally good night, the evening had been a total sell out making each and every chair vital. Once everything was set up we watched the whispering audience excitedly take their seats. The lights dimmed and a solo male musician walked on stage, this was Alex Bayly guitarist and keyboardist from Gerard and the Watchman. Alex performed five songs followed by Rosie Jones (multi-instrumentalist from Gerard and the Watchman) who also performed five solo songs. This staggered introduction to these two band members made the evening seem very personal. We the audience not only got to hear their musicianship without distraction, but we also got to experience their individual personalities. After a short interval, drummer Tobias Humble, Alex Bayly, Rosie Jones, and of course Dave Gerard climbed on to the stage to present us with the complete band ‘Gerard and the Watchman’. The show was a display of silky vocals, exquisite musicianship and poetic lyrics, if this wasn't enough Dave kept on surprising us. He left the stage twice allowing his band to perform without him. Alex, Rosie, and Dave would swap instruments. The encore saw the entire band leave the stage to perform totally unplugged within the audience. We asked Dave Gerard why he performed his final song totally unplugged?
“I love playing songs totally unplugged, it's just a nice touch. It gives people the opportunity to hear how we actually sound, and proves that we can play our instruments and sing”.
When Gerard and the Watchman are electrified they still use the whole dynamic playing loud and quietly. I asked Dave how this fares in more lively venues.
“I like it to be dynamic which is why we don't often play rowdy venues like pubs, no one listens, their main aim is to get drunk and have a good time (which is what I want to do when I go to a pub). Early in my career I recorded an EP which I sent out to many different agencies doing this has resulted in receiving better gigs”.
Gerard and the Watchman have been played on national radio, by two of the UK most respected broadcasters, Bob Harris and Mary Anne Hobbs. I asked Dave how did these two radio DJs heard of Gerard and the Watchmen?
‘Mary Anne Hobbs heard of us after we played a gig for the indie label ‘Communion’. she emailed me asking for a track which she could broadcast on XFM. Bob Harris had heard us on BBC introducing, I didn't think that sort of thing happened but clearly it does. I have just been very lucky I guess”.
Last year Dave Gerard challenged himself to write one song a week for three months. I was curious if he has kept any of those songs in his set list?
“Yes about three songs from that project made it on to my new album, including the title track ‘wooden castles’. It was a great exercise, it motivated me to write more, I should do it again. I do a lot of recording and producing for other people, so when I'm at home I feel that I should be working on other peoples stuff. This means I find it quite difficult to just sit down and write for myself. I will be going to Berlin soon so will use this time away to write. I don’t really have a writing process, sometimes I’ll start with a guitar lick other times a lyric, I may even start on a banjo. I consider poets to be the best at lyrics so I do read quite a few poems for inspiration”.
Please visit Gerard and the Watchmen's website