Italy's The Watch have been busy releasing classic Genesis flavored progressive rock over the last decade, and their latest CD, Timeless, is certainly no exception. Sea of Tranquility Staff Writer Mark Johnson recently caught up with the band to talk about this exciting new album, as well as the rest of their catalog and live appearances.
SoT- Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to talk with you about your success and the music you make, which takes all of us fans back to a time when music was special. We at the Sea of Tranquility are thankful for the time and effort you have taken to answer these questions.
It was your last album, Planet Earth?, which finally inspired me to buy my first Watch album. It ended up near the top of my best albums list of 2010. Which is your favorite song off the album?
Marco Fabbri - Well, my favorite song off Planet Earth? is, "All the Lights in Town", I am very proud of it, I think is one of the best I have ever been involved with.
SoT – Have you played all of the songs off Planet Earth? live? Which is your favorite to play live?
Marco Fabbri - In fact, the only song off Planet Earth?, that we have played for now is exactly "All the Lights in Town". It is very difficult for us to play live, a studio track, the songs are full of guitars, keyboards, and arrangements every time very full, so when you play live you are forced to rearrange the stuff, and not always are happy with the result. One song I really would like to play live would be "Something Wrong", even if it is full of guitars arrangement, but I think the mood of that song would be great as well.
SoT– My favorite song bounces between "Something Wrong", "New Normal", "The World Inside", and "All the Lights in Town". Where did the inspiration for these songs begin?
Marco Fabbri - Well, all the songs we composed take inspiration from the wonderful period of the 70's classic prog and the 80's new prog scene. For those specific songs, I can say that "Something Wrong" take most of its inspiration from the tune "Entangled" by Genesis, is something on the same mood. "New Normal" is kind of a ballad inspired by the new prog era. "The World Inside", in recording, I tried to recreate something in the mood of some of Bill Bruford's records, especially the King Crimson's Discipline period. "All the Lights in Town" has a number of influences, even Beatles in the central section, the fugue typical of the 70's prog, and a crazy drum pattern at the beginning, that I don t really know where it came from,(laughs).
SoT – That Hackett – like guitar that opens "Something Wrong" just wipes away the years. Giorgio Gabriel, which of Genesis' many songs is the inspiration for that opening?
Marco Fabbri - Again, I think is mostly "Entangled" influence, but Giorgio is a huge Steve Hackett fan, so could be any of his productions with Genesis!
SoT – The eternal quandary of whether to open a song with acoustic guitar or piano. How do you guys decide?
Marco Fabbri - Yeah, the ancestral question!!! Well we are very democratic, we use both!!!! I think depends a lot on what kind of direction you wish the song take…..in fact I am not so unhappy if a song starts even with a crispy drum fill (laughs).
SoT - Valerio De Vittorio's piano is wonderful throughout this album. Which are some of his favorite passages?
Valerio - I am very proud of the riff in the song "Let Us Now Make Love", and that was an original idea.
SoT - Guglielmo Mariotti's bass is excellent throughout the album. Which is his favorite moment on the album?
Guglielmo - My favorite passage on Timeless is in "Let Us Now Make Love". The groove is nice; every time I listen to it I am in a good mood.
SoT – Before we talk about Timeless, Simone Rossetti, I'm sure I'm not the first to hear the similarities between your voice and Peter Gabriel's. Have you met Peter? If so, what was the experience like? Does he like the way you bring their classics to life again? If you haven't met, what would you like to ask him if you ever did meet?
Simone - No, in fact I have never had the pleasure to meet him. Of course, if it would happen one day. First thing I would thank him for the wonderful music he wrote and will write in future to come; it has been such an influence in my life.
SoT– Let's talk about your new album, Timeless. Which is your favorite song?
Marco Fabbri - My favorite song of the new album is the rearrangement of the Genesis tune "Let Us Now Make Love". It is a song that has a groove and a portent I really like a lot, something a little different from the usual The Watch style. And also, the wonderful flute of Mr. John Hackett makes my skin chill every time.
SoT – The 2011 tour, will it include a complete track by track live presentation of the album?
Marco Fabbri - Yes, we choose "One Day", playing full version, for present the album for this tour.
SoT – The experience of playing Genesis to Revelation live must have had an influence on Timeless. What was it like bringing this classic to life on stage?
Marco Fabbri - We always had the intention to rearranging some Genesis material, as this band has a huge influence on us. So when the occasion came, we choose of course the album less known, more obscure. I can say we are happy of the result, and playing it live is awesome.
SoT – You have covered two Genesis songs from the studio on this album. What was the experience like after playing their music for so many years?
Marco Fabbri - Is like knocking on the masters' door, asking for the permission to leave class and stand proudly as composers.
SoT - You have been greatly influenced by Genesis. You have played some of their famous albums live and one of my favorite songs of all time Supper's Ready. What was it like to play these unbelievably rich classics live?
Marco Fabbri - In my opinion, "Supper's Ready" is one of the top 3 songs of all time, ever. And surely the best suite of that magic period. When you work a masterpiece like this, you just stand on the shoulder of a giant, and it's easy to see down and have vertigo. You have to approach with all the cure of the details you can possibly put, is a really hard job. But the reward is amazing, when for instance you start "Apocalypse 9/8" and you feel the groove in your veins, is unexplainable ;-)) and this of course happens for all of those
SoT – How do the fans react to your renditions of these classics?
Marco Fabbri - We can say without fake modesty, that the fans react in a way that we never imagined could be. Sometimes you see tears in their face, every time they wait for you after show, telling you how it was nice to listen to somebody playing these songs with such passion, and they are happy we are willing to recreate the magical atmosphere. Even if of course we are not the composers, it is a very rewarding thing, you have impression to have made difference in fans' lives just for a little while.
SoT – You have met Steve Hackett, but have you ever met the other members of the band?
Marco Fabbri - No, the only one we met was Steve Hackett, and let me say it was just an amazing experience. When you have a hero, and you meet him, finding out how humble and easy going he is, let me say is one of the best experiences in this world.
SoT– Thank you for bringing "Let Us Now Make Love" out into the light and for giving it the stereo full on sound it always deserved.
Marco Fabbri - The pleasure is ours. As I said is one of my most favorite moments of the album, this song deserves to shine and rise up again, the best we could do.
SoT – "End of the Road" closes the album with ominous lyrics. What are the band's biggest fears for the future of the world?
Marco Fabbri - Well, our point of view is not so optimistic as you can imagine. As human beings, we all are running on the edge of a razor. I am not very worried about our planet's destiny, it will survive, differently. The problem is the future of the human being, nature soon will throw us away in the garbage, and the problem is we really would have deserved it.
SoT – Which is the band's favorite song off the Vacuum album?
Marco Fabbri - I think my favorite song on Vacuum is "Damage Mode". It is just wonderful to play it live, gives energy. But not so far in my preferences is the song "Vacuum" as well, such a nice bunch of different moods.
SoT – The video from Damage Mode is incredible. A real showcase for Simone. What was it like making that video? (Who is the model…great legs!). (If any fans haven't seen it yet, here is a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxmb5_NmKlg)
Simone - Was a very funny experience in fact, so different from live acts and recording sessions, another kind of world ;-)) Yeah not bad the model, is a friend of ours. Of course I will not tell you the sensation to sing between those legs, you know I have wife and kids! (laughs)
SoT – Which is the band's favorite song on Primitive?
Marco Fabbri - My favorite is "Berlin 1936", not only for the music but also for the lyrics, and history of friendship and niceness in a difficult surrounding. And is one of our favorite live acts ever.
Mark – "Soaring On" is one of my favorite songs off Primitive. Why did you feel you needed to remake it on Timeless?
Marco Fabbri - Well, the live arrangement of this song ended up to become so much different from the one you find on Primitive, and was so much appreciated by fans that we thought about recording it again on this version. I think it is very nice like this. And so different that you even don't recognize it from the original one.
SoT – Which is the band's favorite song on Ghosts, and why?
Marco Fabbri - Definetely "DNAlien". Such fun to play, especially for the drummer, is full of changing of patterns and spots to make drum fills.
SoT– On Ghosts, you burst through the gate with a fantastic opening. DNAlien. Where did the inspiration come for that song?
Marco Fabbri - I think I got inspiration from Alps' woods. My parents have a flat over there, and I used to spend all summers in this amazing landscape.
SoT– Heroes brings back so many memories of both Genesis and Marillion. From where did the inspiration for this song come?
Marco Fabbri - The inspiration came listening hours and hours to Genesis and Marillion songs, laying on bed, or running through the woods, or on the school benches dreaming to play music everywhere you could.
SoT – Tell us about your most memorable experiences as the Night Watch.
Marco Fabbri - I think the most memorable was the very first concert we made outside of Italian borders, at the club De Pul in Uden (Holland). Such a nice venue, with a lot of passionate people just sharing our music. That was maybe the first time I realize that ok, that's what I want to do in my life.
SoT – Where is your favorite place to play, and why?
Marco Fabbri - Every place we play has something we like a lot, could be a nice stage, passionate and responding people and so on. But maybe, the one that is always in my ear is the Bergkeller in Reichembach. Is a very small club, but we feel really like a family there, and I love to have audience directly in front of us….there's no stage in fact !
SoT – Is there somewhere you'd like to play that you haven't yet?
Marco Fabbri - Of course, Madison Square Garden or maybe Wembley Stadium (laughs), jokes apart, I would like to reach more countries and continents we could. Don't know; find out how Australian or Chinese or African audiences look alike. Even Argentina or Chile tents me a lot.
SoT – Are there any other bands that have influenced your music?
Marco Fabbri - Personally, I am very influenced, even by Beatles, is one of my favorite band of all time. But I try to take inspiration to every kind of good music, and the rest of the band also. You can even feel some hard rock, or some jazzy passages, in our live shows.
SoT – Will there be a Marco Fabbri, Los Endos – inspired, drum showcase on a Watch album of the future?
Marco Fabbri - Well, who knows. In fact, Marco is not the kind of drummer that likes a lot solos, he says every time he is a drummer for the band, not a drummer for drummers!
SoT – What is next after the 2011 tour? Is there a subject or human experience that you would most like to write about for the next project?
Marco Fabbri - For now we are still focused on the end of our 2011 tour, but yeah of course there will be soon a new studio album. Don t know, after politics and environment and pessimism about the end of the world, maybe would be time to write about something different….don't know…..women maybe eh, eh joking. We will see when inspiration comes, stay tuned.
SoT- Is there any other comments that you would like to make or cover that I haven't yet?
Marco Fabbri - I would like to thank you for the nice interview, and to thank all people attended, attending and will attend our shows, keep good music alive!!!! Yeah there are a lot of covers we will like to do, but I won't tell, would ruin the surprise !
SoT – Thank you again for taking the time to answer these questions. I look forward to a successful 2011 for you and a great tour. I hope your plans take you to America's West Coast someday. Until then, thanks from all of us at the Sea of Tranquility.
(Click here to read our review of Timeless)