Watchmen online with fans

JOSHUA OSTROFF

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

"Who watches The Watchmen?"

That intriguing tagline of the ground-breaking 1986 comic book/graphic novel could apply just as easily to the decade-old, Winnipeg-based band of the same name.

And the answer would be "anyone with a computer terminal."

You see, The Watchmen -- who play the Congress Centre tonight -- have taken the relatively new medium of the Internet to new heights with their elaborate band website (www.the-watchmen. com).

"The whole computer world is (about) trying to outdo somebody and trying to be the first to do something and trying to stay on the edge of it all. But for me, it's just a fancy way of keeping in touch with people," says lead singer Daniel Greaves, admittedly not the most computer literate of the bunch.

Instead of the standard record label-based sites that let fans read a bio, see a few photos and buy stuff, The Watchmen have created a three site spectacular that includes their old website (done in a traditional fashion for their previous LP, Brand New Day), a site dedicated to their new record Silent Radar and a main site which includes WAG, the band's official "magazine."

It's that webzine that sets The Watchmen's site apart from their contemporaries. Filled with writing from the various band members, it enables fans to see the world through their eyes. You can peruse digital photos taken by the band, read their tour diaries and feature articles (like guitarist Joey Serlin's Surviving The Road) or analyze the band's reviews of concerts, books, records and gear.

"It was (bassist) Ken (Tizzard)'s idea, he used to work at a magazine and he thought it was sort of a neat framework. I guess with the (other band) websites it's generally the same sort of information, frequently asked questions, blah, blah, blah.

"It was a neat format that allowed us to give people a little taste of who we are when we're not on stage and what we think about.

"It gives us a chance to stay close to the fans without whom we would be washing dishes."

The closeness comes from the fact that, along with both career and personal information on the band, fans can get letters published in the webzine or get e-mails answered by the band itself.

Greaves relates a tale of a Cleveland fan who, after seeing the band live, bought all four CDs and e-mailed them when he got home.

"We got it that night, e-mailed him back and chances are we have a fan for life now. The pure speed of the conversation is sort of a cool thing."

But Greaves is also aware of the downsides inherent to any new technology. The advent of music videos, for instance, reinforced the system of hit singles and one-hit wonders.

"For us, we're a live band and we've been a live band for a lot of years and this is an added thing."


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