New times for Watchmen

KIERAN GRANT

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

The Watchmen's Daniel Greaves accidentally offers up the perfect pun while discussing his band's fourth album, Silent Radar.

"Music's meant to be felt, not to set your watch by," the Winnipeg singer is saying yesterday as he describes the looser sound of the disc, out today.

"In the past we concentrated on precision rather than how you could use a studio to your advantage."

"We would concentrate on tuning and speed, but when you think about it, that's not really the point," adds Watchmen guitarist Joey Serlin. "The point is to capture the feel of what it was like between the four guys in that room."

The Watchmen play a show Thursday at Lee's Palace for 102.1 contest winners, and take over the Horseshoe Friday and Saturday for the public.

The band -- which also includes bassist Ken Tizzard and drummer Sammy Kohn -- recorded Silent Radar at Seattle's Litho studio, owned by Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard. Greaves and Serlin credit producer Adam Kasper, who's worked with Soundgarden and R.E.M., with creating a more casual recording atmosphere than the band were used to.

Not a bad idea, given the added pressure of following up 1994's platinum-selling In The Trees, and '96's gold Brand New Day.

"To me there's always pressure," says Greaves. "No record company could put as much pressure on us as we do ourselves when we're writing."

"It's such an exhaustive process that when it's done, you're empty," Serlin continues. "At that point you ask yourself, am I ever going to be able to do this again? But you do."

Perhaps out of necessity, The Watchmen were in turn able to give their music room to breath on Silent Radar.

"One of the best qualities a musician can have -- and this is a cliche -- is to know when not to play," says Serlin.

"It's kind of a peek-a-boo, hide-and-go-seek type thing," adds Greaves with a laugh.

That said, Silent Radar is not a particularly playful album. Darker in tone than their past records, its laments of loss and uncertainty catch the band in a particularly gloomy phase.

Greaves and Serlin, who share lyric-writing duties, smile at the mention of their newfound dark side.

"People seem to be picking up on that," muses Serlin.

Adds Greaves: "This girl who heard an advance copy -- someone who wasn't supposed to -- came up and said, 'What happened to you guys? Are you okay?' It really freaked me out. I was like, 'Everything's cool.'

"A lot of the writing was like therapy. It feels good getting that stuff out. It doesn't get me down that there's sad songs on the record."

"He might be down if he hadn't written those songs," offers Serlin. "I personally can't write happy songs. It just doesn't feel real to me."

The Watchmen plan to add more miles to their already impressive touring log this summer.

The group maintain a modest method of measuring success.

"As long as we're able to continue this," says Serlin. "I'd fall into a massive depression if we couldn't."

"We'd probably write great tunes," says Greaves. "But who would hear them?"

Tickets for The Watchmen's gigs Friday and Saturday at the Horseshoe are $12 and available at the door only.


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