The history that surrounds Manchester’s music scene can play heavy on a band trying to make it from the city or it can inspire them, The Ninth Watch are a band that are inspired by rather than weighed down by the ghosts of Manc bands past.
The first thing that struck my about the band was how well crafted the songs are. The Optimist would ceratinly not sound out of place on radio playlists and Brave Bombardier shows an ability to create a thought-provoking mature piece of music. In Concrete Boots they have a song with a real swagger that screams future indie anthem and I’m sure is a firm favourite in their live sets, the track was also picked up for The Online Festival compilation album Indievidual Vol. 2
Guitarist Mike Fieldhouse kindly answered a few questions for me to help introduce the band.
Give us a brief history of how the Ninth Watch came about?
We’d all been in bands before and were looking to start something new. Ste Ahern (vocals and guitar) had the most success being the lead guitarist and songwriter for Dirty Circus who were signed to Sony-Columbia untill 2010. Ian Holden (bass) and myself played in a band which had just split up and were in talks with Matt Ryan (drums) about setting up a new band. Matt & Ste met by chance in a nightclub and exchanged numbers and it all snowballed from there really. We recently added a fifth member, Jon Hollingsworth, who was also in Dirty Circus, on synths.
Listening to your tracks they sound very well constructed and polished, how does the song writing process in The Ninth Watch work?
Ste is the main song writer, he had written a few songs before we came together, and had been doing solo acoustic gigs. We initially decided to add lead, bass and drums to Apples Of My Eyes, Brave Bombardier and Fortune’s Wheel. We always had the intention of building these songs up in the studio by adding strings, synths and timpani. The Optimist came about from a jam during rehearsals, which Ste added lyrics too. In a similar style we wrote some more upbeat, electric style songs in order to play a decent live set in Manchester. We wanted to write songs that people could dance to, and this led to Forever’s A Long Time, Concrete Boots, and the yet to be recorded In Soul City and Dead Man Walking
Lyrically your songs have real depth and meaning, where do you draw influence for them?
Some lyrics are drawn from personal experiences and memories, others are from legends and tales read in books. They all have a deeper meaning if you want to look into them, but we try to keep things light and upbeat with our music. The musical influences are quiet vast. Obviously there’s the local influences like Noel Gallagher, Stone Roses, Elbow etc… but we also look further afield to anything from Northern Soul type songs, The Beatles, Arcade Fire, to name a few.
‘Forever’s A Long Time’ stands out for me as it’s got a different feel to the other tracks, a dancey New Order sound, how did that track come about?
Ste wrote the track a long time ago, he had a blueprint for the direction of the song, which included the string section and synths. The structure and rhythm of the song was already there, it just needed a tight drum and bass line adding. This was then accompanied with some atmospheric lead guitar. We had a good idea of how the strings and synths section should sound, which was then added in the studio. We’re proud of this song and have received some high praise from several reviewers.
How did 2012 go for you guys?
It was a very successful year for our band. We came together in 2012, recorded 6 high quality demo songs and managed to quickly claim the headline slots at some of Manchester’s top music venues, including Night & Day, The Roadhouse, Club Academy and Dry Bar. We were also requested to support All The Young at Indiependence in Wigan as part of their UK tour. At the end of 2012 we added a fifth member on synths and decided to start writing some fresh songs to add to our set for 2013.
What’s been your stand-out gig so far?
Hard to pick, but probably the first time we headlined Night & Day Cafe. It was packed to the rafters and has had some top artists play there over the years. The sound was fantastic and there was a great vibe from the crowd that night..
Do you feel the pressure from being a band in Manchester given the musical history of the city?
Being compared to any of the big Manchester bands is pressure for any artist. You’d have to be exceptional to be comparable to Oasis, Stone Roses, The Smiths, Doves, Happy Mondays, Joy Division/New Order. They set the bench mark very high. It’s great that when we have been reviewed and comparisons to some of these bands have been made, listening to some of our songs the comparisons are understandable, but we never set out to sound like anybody in particular. The influences are there and can be heard, but we think that we have enough depth and range in our songs to hopefully not get labelled as just ‘another Manchester band’.
What can we look forward to from The Ninth Watch in 2013?
Hopefully we’ll write some more songs and get them recorded in the studio. We’ll definitely be playing a lot of gigs in Manchester and with a bit of luck we’ll be playing a festival or two.
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