Gerard and the Watchmen rank amongst our favourite bands that we play on Folk Radio UK. With a core set of members made up of front-man Dave Gerard, James Frid, Jessica Moncrieff and Dan Rogers this London based quartet have been creating a unique standard in folk music that never ceases to amaze and delight. Their vocals and harmonies are of the finest out there and the enhanced layering of guitar, upright bass, percussion and violin form the perfect match. They don’t get much better than this!
We recently caught up with front-man Dave Gerard, the owner of those unmistakable ethereal vocals to find out more about the band and all it all began. “Well I met James first, in a horrible pub and asked him to play on an EP that I was recording. We eventually played our first gig at the Hertford corn exchange in between an 8 piece 80’s Glam Metal band and a Goth Techno band! After experimenting with different instrumentation we eventually grew into a four-piece with Dan joining on the upright bass and more recently Jess on violin, both of whom we met through just playing gigs.”
I asked Dave to introduce the band which he does in his typical light-hearted way. “James is a sort of crazy Viking warrior, who was born in the wrong era, should have been around in the 60’s/70’s! He plays a mean guitar and mandolin and sings some harmonies. Dan is like the Godfather of the band, keeping us all in check. Jess is our Aussie violinist and singer who managed to forget to bring her violin to Cambridge Folk Festival! She also writes her own songs.”
The band recently released their EP ‘I Climbed a Tree’ which is out on bandcamp. This 8-track release borders close to an album, a sign maybe of their prolific output. “Yes I’m never quite sure what to call it. We were looking to put out an EP of the material we’d been playing at gigs. As we played and wrote together more regularly, the list of songs kept growing and we kept adding more to the EP. We stopped short of making it into an album because we felt that we wanted to release the material we had at that point and start afresh on a full album. We’re looking at late spring early summer 2013 for that.”
For those that want to keep up with the band treat yourself to their current song a week project which you can hear via their Soundcloud. They always seem to be pushing their boundaries in terms of output and this project has helped to push them that bit harder. “I thought it would be a great focus for writing new material and experimenting in the studio with the pressure of a weekly deadline. It also presented an opportunity for Gerard and the Watchmen to collaborate with a lot of musical friends we have made over the past few months.
“They are all our own songs, although some will be co-written with other bands – in the next few months we’ll be collaborating with Jack in Water, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, the Willows, Patch and the Giant, The Last Men and whoever else we can get on board.”
The band play primarily in London which, depending on who you talk to, has a burgeoning folk scene. I asked Dave if he shared that view. “I’m not sure! London is a funny place for music, it seems like everyone moves to London thinking it’s a holy grail of music, but it’s so saturated it can be difficult to find decent gigs, especially paid ones with people watching! Most of the best gigs we’ve played have been outside of London in truth. That said, there are some magic little nights such as ‘The Folkroom‘ guys, Communion gigs, Live and Unamplified to name a few.”
The Trivia Round
What are you listening to?
At the moment mostly Ane Brun – I’m obsessed with her sound, all those dark moody guitar parts and haunting voice. Also I’ve recently rediscovered Van Morrison and his back catalogue. Would it be clichéd if I said they don’t make music like that anymore?
What are you reading?
I’ve never read fiction – I don’t know why, especially as I’ve always wanted to write a book. I’m currently reading a book on Ancient Rome’s Gladiators, and an Oscar Wilde collection. Is that weird?
Recommend an artist you think our listeners may be interested in.
It’s hard to pick out one as I’m lucky enough to know many, but check out Jack in Water who I was recording yesterday! They make the most epic alternative folk, and Will’s voice is incredible.
Folk Radio UK Video Session: Monochrome
September 8th – Woodfest, Hatfield Forest
September 19th – Bicycle Shop Norwich supporting Rachel Sermanni
September the 20th – The Elgin, London
October 12th – Bicycle Shop Norwich Sound and Vision Festival
October 20th – Elgar room Royal Albert Hall