Philadelphia’s got some great bands, and some awful ones, but if I had to pick a band to represent
this fine city, I’d go with Watery Love. Who better to represent the no-frills, working-class,
pro sport-enthusiast city than this crew? They wear t-shirts that come in sealed plastic
three-packs and drink Kenzingers before, during and after their gigs, usually booked in close
relation to a source of said beverage. They love baseball and carry a razor-sharp wit that snobs
from the suburbs might not expect. And judging from their answers to some of these questions,
they have reflected upon their own band less than most MySpace home demo projects do,
proof that this quartet doesn’t sit around contemplating their aesthetic or marketing strategy,
they just want to play guitars real loud.
If my understanding is correct, both Clockcleaner and Violent Students were
pretty much kaput, and then you got Watery Love going, right? What were the
circumstances surrounding the origin of Watery Love?
Richie (guitar/vocals): I don’t recall that the origin was very interesting. Max and I had
been talking about doing a band and I had already written a song. Meg’s a good friend and
she was looking for a change in her life. However, she would not quit her job and join the band
if we called it Manson Chicks. So we settled on the name Watery Love instead. Violent
Students was long gone, but Clockcleaner was still going. ‘Cleaner had a practice space and I
had some drums and amps there, so the three of us used that stuff and everything was easy.
It was just some Friday night stuff. We’d drink some beers and play some guitars. And those
two got a big laugh the first time that I tried to sing in front of them.
Max (guitar): I agree. Pretty boring.
Was there ever any other possibility, or was it decided from the start that you
would sing as well as play guitar? Are Watery Love’s lyrics the first you’ve ever written?
Richie: Oh yeah. Max and Meg told me from the get-go that if we were going to do this thing,
then I would have to be in charge. Max hasn’t been near a microphone in years, but
we’re hoping that he comes out of his shell sometime soon. In addition to singing and playing guitar
and penning the lyrics, I also get to tune the guitars, set up the amps, and put together the
drums. And yes, these lyrics are my first.
Max: We thought Richie was lacking in confidence and self-esteem, so we allowed him to be in
charge. Seems to have worked. Not sure I’d really call those “lyrics” though.
Simplicity seems to be key in the Watery Love equation. Is this an intentional approach,
or born out of the players’ skill level, or a combo of the two?
Richie: Yeah I guess that we’re limited by our abilities. But you fucking better not be saying that
we’re so shitty and suck so much that we’re good. I guess that it’s just fortunate that we’re
non-virtuosos and we want to play so-called simple tunes.
Max: Yeah, we’re not out to do anything other than play our songs. We actually practice and
try our best. It just so happens we don’t have much chops. We’re not deliberately trying to
dumb it down or be “back ta basics” (good label).
Do you feel like the band has improved since you started? Is the 2010 Watery Love
a more formidable live machine than that of 2009?
Max: I think we’ve gotten a lot better, although I don’t think the word “formidable” is appropriate
in any circumstance.
Richie: Sure. We improve by increments I guess.
I’ve seen Watery Love about ten times now, and I can’t remember the crowd ever really
enjoying it, so to speak. What would you consider a successful gig?
Max: I’ve had at least one stranger say they enjoyed it so I don’t know what the fuck
you’re talking about.
Richie: Well I don’t really know how to reply to your assertion that the audience doesn’t enjoy
our set. They all seem to stick around until the last song and I’ve even seen some of the
same faces at multiple gigs. In fact, Watery Love is probably a lot more crowd-friendly than
my previous bands. Beats me, man. I don’t get up on a stage and take my shirt off and
prance around like a ninny, but we give the crowd their money’s worth.
Are you referring to the fact that many of your shows are free?
What would you say are Watery Love’s biggest strengths and weaknesses?
Richie: This question is a lot tougher to deal with than you might have thought. I have no
insightful or interesting answer to this one.
Max: Unfortunately the answer is one and the same: the size of our hearts.
Watery Love has a fairly illustrious history of bassists: Kurt Vile, Daniel DiMaggio of
Home Blitz, Russ Waterhouse of Blues Control… who’s the best?
Richie: Yeah, we’ve asked three accomplished guitar players to dumb it down for four strings.
Early on, it was just the three of us: two guitars and drums. As a three-piece we even
played a particularly unenthusiastic gig in the basement of the Philadelphia Record
Exchange. At some point a few weeks later we invited Kurt to come by and play bass. He
brought all these effects pedals and stuff like that and he seemed uninterested in learning
the three or four notes per tune. He just kind of put his head down and messed around on
the non-bass section of the fretboard on a bass guitar. We were sad to see him go, but he
seemed determined for other things. And Daniel recorded our record and he owned a bass
guitar, so it was an easy choice to get him involved. He can also tune by ear and he can listen
to a song and figure out how to play it. That skill makes him real important when we
choose a cover tune. Russ turned out to be a quick study when we needed him a month
or two ago. Dan couldn’t make a gig, because he had already committed Home Blitz
to some stupid show in New York or Brooklyn. We had debated the merits of both Russ
and Lea, but ultimately settled on Russ because one girl in the band is enough. Russ plays
with a pretty hard rock attitude, so we were probably a little harder sounding than usual
that night. So anyway, I can’t choose. And we’re talking about three super-talented and
visually stunning guys, so I can’t be expected to pick a favorite.
Max: Other than Kurt, both other guys are great. They each have a great many positive
and negative aspects.
Are there any songs you intend to cover in the future? Or songs that certain members
wanted to cover that were nixed by the consensus?
Richie: We’ve tried some stuff that didn’t really work out. “Wild Thing” and “I Live to be Hated”
come to mind. And we didn’t quite have the finesse to do “The Hunchback”.
Will there be a new record? I know you’ve got the songs.
Richie: That’s very observant of you. Yes, we’ve got a few new tunes and we’ve been talking
about doing another record. It’s just a matter of time. We might even record it by the end of
Max: It’s a pretty significant accomplishment for us to actually complete a song so they
should be recorded for posterity.