By James Keller
Hours away from hitting the stage, Joey Serlin and the rest of the Watchmen are busy breaking in
"It’s quite the building," Serlin says of the newly renovated campus bar, taking a break from the arcade games upstairs. "The sightlines aren’t great, but it’s going to be an intimate setting and that’s kind of the purpose of these shows."
Saturday’s performance in the Den was the fourth and last performance Serlin refers to. Promoting their new album, Slomotion, released four days earlier, the band played in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary. The shows were exclusive to people with copies of the record–one of many things increasing the value of the
"The whole philosophy of this CD is we wanted to have a lot of value for its buck," says Serlin. Slomotion is also a two-disc set with multimedia included on both. "On top of that you get a free concert. That’s pretty unheard of nowadays for 10 or 15 bucks."
Audiences at the evening’s performance were also treated to something else that’s new for the band. Since their last album of three years prior, Silent Radar, they’ve developed a new sound. Slomotion incorporates the previous guitar-driven Watchmen sound, layered with electronic samples and drum machine beats. Serlin says this was a natural progression for the band.
"I think the meat and potatoes of the record are still Watchmen songs and the elements are still intact," says Serlin. "But how we recorded it and how we dressed it up was different, we needed to get into something that would keep us artistically satisfied."
The album doesn’t leave old Watchmen fans behind. The second disc serves as a best-of collection. Including a new remix of "Stereo" from Silent Radar, Serlin hopes it will be an easy transition for fans.
"It almost bridges that gap between the old sound and the new sound," says Serlin.
Another factor which may have contributed to the changes, is the loss of drummer Sammy Kohn since their last release. Citing personal reasons for leaving, Kohn’s absence from the band forced the Watchmen to use alternatives to a live in-studio drummer.
"We played together for a long time, so if you take one piece of that formula you’re obviously going to sound different," Serlin says, adding that the change forced the band to use electronic drums instead–a change that hasn’t come without some benefits. "This is no slight against live drummers, especially not Sammy, but the rhythmic possibilities you can pull off with a computer as compared to a live drummer are boundless."
One concern is audiences’ reaction to the new sound. Serlin says the response so far is extremely positive, but there will always be people not open for change.
"There is rock, it’s just dressed up in a more mature, interesting way," Serlin says, defending the new sound. "But when you last a long time and you put out records, you lose some fans, but hopefully you gain more."