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Monday, 20 August 2012

Watershed Hour Interview


Despite our ever-increasing ability as listeners to access various forms of music across the globe, sometimes we find gems hiding right in our backyard, or perhaps more fittingly in this case, right under our noses. I've known Laura Klinduch and Natalie Paproski-Rubianes since they were probably ten years old, but what I haven't known is for the better part of those ten years they've been writing and performing music in various incarnations of the band Watershed Hour. So imagine my surprise when I realized A) the band existed and B) that they were pretty damn good. 

I recently got a chance to catch up with the two of them after a benefit show for a girls' rock camp to chat about their transition from being a three-piece, their views on gender equality in music, and their inauspicious origins as a Linkin Park cover band. Enjoy.  

Introduce yourselves.

N: My name is Natalie; I sing and play bass.

L: I'm Laura; I keep Natalie in line, and I hit things.

N: ...and books shows, and does everything except sing and play bass.

I was trying to describe your music to my dad last night and I couldn't do it...

L: Good. I'm glad that you said that instead of attempted to, because...

N: We've heard some things

What kind of things have you heard?

N: Well because we're girls we get compared to girl bands all the time, and we sound nothing like them.

L: Paramore.

Paramore? You got Paramore?

N: We got Paramore (laughs).

L: We kicked Braiden out, and this guy who'd heard us with Braiden was suddenly like "they're Paramore," and in the latest Broken Arts 'zine they had, they compared us to Black Keys, Pack A.D. and Hollerado.

That's kind of odd, I can kind of hear the Black Keys, and I've never heard of Pack A.D. but...

L: Pack A.D., two chicks.

N: But to be fair, out of the three bands, I think Pack A.D. is what we sound most like.

L: Not Hollerado.

(laughter)

L: I actually tried to describe our sound the other day.

N: She's prepared.

L: I'd say my drumming is like the drummer from Toe, so if Toe had a baby with Hole and Death From Above 1979 was an affair. So you don't know who the baby's daddy is; it could be Hole, or it could be DFA.

That's a... pretty interesting baby...

N: We'd like to hope so.

What's influenced you guys to make the music you do?

N: Well, I really like the louder kind of stuff, and not really holding back and just yelling. I could sing classically, but I really feel like there's more emotion when you just go for it. Also lyrically, I used to try and make sure I was rhyming and that my lyrics were deep and meaningful; but after reading the Kurt Cobain journals where he says even if his lyrics were disjointed they still meant something. It doesn't have to mean something to the audience, it just has to mean something to you, because if you sing it like you mean it the audience will get it. That's vocally, in terms of bass, I kind of just rip it.

L: You can't rip a bass, you're supposed to slap it.

N: I can't, I tried.

L: For me, it's the drummer for Toe. They're a Japanese math-rock band. I actually steal a lot of stuff from them, but you wouldn't know it, because nobody cares about them. I'm just gonna say Toe. I love Toe.

What was that white thing you were playing on your kit? Rockin' the jug?

L: I am sponsored by Home Depot, I have a contract with them

N: (laughs) okay...

L: No I don't, it's just a Home Depot bucket.

Where'd you get the idea to rock the bucket?

L: Last year my school did a post-apocalyptic version of Macbeth, and they asked me to be the creative music director for the pit-band. The pit-band was basically a drum band that used trash-cans and it worked well, so I stole the bucket.

N: We have the added bonus of being able to carry our equipment in the bucket, so it's handy.

You guys have known each other for a long time. For the people that don't know, how did you meet and when did you decide to start making music together?

L: Linkin Park!

N: We met in grade four at Jack Miner [P.S. in Whitby, ON, Canada.] because we transferred over to a gifted school, and we started talking because we had a mutual love for Linkin Park.

L: Linkin Park, Evanescence, Treble Charger, and what else...

N: Seether?

L: No, I hated Seether. Uh, who did "Animal I Have Become.."

Oh...

L + N: Three Days Grace!!!!

The jams!

L: The grade four jams!

N: So we had a class talent show, and we decided to perform as a Linkin Park cover band, because Laura is a very great rapper, so she was like "I'll rap, and you sing" so it worked perfectly.

L: We did it again in grade five!

N: Then in like grade seven we decided to actually make a band. Laura could play drums, so I picked up the bass and pretended.

[To Natalie] You play guitar and bass on the EP right?

N: There is guitar. It is not done by me. We were a three piece, and we...

L: ... are now a two piece. We kicked him out.

So how do you co-ordinate all the parts live?

N: We don't really play the old songs anymore. I think there are two or three we can still play but that's it.

L: We kicked our guitarist out, then the day of, we had a show. So we played the show as is...

N: It was awful...

L: So a week later, we added a distortion pedal. Still kinda awful, so we started writing new songs and found a new amp, which helped things considerably.

I see. How'd you guys go about recording your EP?

N: Well... (laughs) did he contact you Laura?

L: Yeah, I got a random Facebook friend request, back in the day when I accepted everyone for the sake of it. So he adds me and goes "oh you're a musician? I'll record an EP for free" and I was like "Alright!"

N: ...then he adds me, and I'm talking to him about it, and I was like "I feel bad if it's for free, we can pay you for it" and he accepted. I didn't expect that to happen.

(laughter)

L: So we had to pay 50 bucks 'cause of Natalie.

N: So we went to this guy's house not knowing what to expect, and it was in this kind of sketchy area. He led us downstairs into this tiny room full of all his clothes and all the beer cans he ever drank.

L: Hoarder. He had like ten of the crappiest guitars I've ever seen and a drum set. He was like "this is where we're going to record!"

N: It smelt pretty bad too.

Really?

L: After a while you just get accustomed to it though. I felt bad for Natalie because when she would sing he'd ask "would you like a glass of water?" and I was like "wow, she's drinking it..."

N: It was kind of rough, but still I'm glad we did it, especially for the price we did it at. Now when we try and book shows we can at least show them something. We learned from it too, because we had a bit of a rough time. We're not very assertive, so we'd kind of mention we didn't like something and he'd just ignore it. Then we'd bitch about it in the car afterwards.

L: My biggest issue was I kept saying to him "this isn't loud enough" and he was like "drums can't go any louder" and the drums are so quiet. You can't hear the cowbell and... (sighs) I cry.

N: Also, we've changed so much that it doesn't really reflect our sound at all, like this was before I started yelling, and we still had a guitar player. I almost don't want to mention when we play shows that we have an EP, because people will come up and say they love it, but it sounds nothing like what we're doing right now.

L: I feel bad, like we're kind of ripping them off.

So how are you progressing musically then?

N: We're getting angrier, I'd say. The problem was when we had our guitarist, he wanted to play more classically instead of punkier stuff because he didn't see the appeal in playing three chords. For me that doesn't matter, my favourite band is Nirvana, so like...

Who cares how many chords are in the song?

N: Exactly! Every time we tried to make it angry, he wouldn't like it.

L: We'd write songs and he'd be like "they don't fit us." What does that mean? We wrote them...

N: As soon as we kicked him out, I wrote our angriest song. It's great, now we can play like that and that's how we're changing.

How has the transition been going from a three-piece to a two piece? I feel like there would be a significant change in songwriting dynamic.

L: We're finding it harder to be honest. I like to say that I'm married to my sister, that's how I like to describe it.

N: That's a really weird way to describe it... (laughs) It's true though. The good thing about having three people is that usually there were only two of us mad at each other, and the other one would be a third party who could kind of moderate it. Now when we get angry we don't talk and we just kind of stew in the back seat until after we perform. Usually when we're done performing, we kind of just look at each other and laugh. We start most of our shows angry at each other and finish most of them happy.

L: Today was bad. 

N: Not really, you were mad at your mom, not me.

L: Yeah, that's right. Man, I'm gonna hear it from my mom when I go back...

Uh-oh. Well since we're at an event benefitting a girls rock camp, and you're an all girl band, how important is it to you that girls get into making music at a young age?

N: As important as it is for guys to get in at a young age. I understand that girls may need the push, but...

L: Playing this show is a love/hate in that people come up to us after after and go "you guys are so good, especially for girls!" and that's kind of a slap in the face. We both don't really see gender at all, so it's kind of odd to draw a distinction. I was raised genderless, so my parents were like "you wanna play hockey? go for it! You wanna play drums? Okay."

Do you feel there's a stigma against female performers?

L: No.

Really?

L: Of course there is (laughs). Especially for me, because people are more used to female vocalists, and Natalie fits the part. She's usually dressed to the nines...

N: Not today, though, I'm hung over.

L: Then there's me wearing bright colours in the corner setting up drums. People come up and ask me "are you in the band?" and I'm like "oh no, I'm just setting this up."

N: I haven't come across it too badly... Yet.

L: There's just the odd dick.

So do you see ways we can combat sexism in music?

L: I'm gonna take the Morgan Freeman approach to Black History Month, where he sees that as segregation. Having an all girls' show is cool, but at the same time I really wanted to see a guy band up there to show men support inclusiveness as well. I hate to say it, but in some cases the less you talk about it, the less of an opportunity people have to draw lines.

N: Yeah, like I don't go into a gig thinking "oh my gosh, we're the only girl band, what are people gonna think?" I just see us as a band. Sometimes I go, "oh god, we're the only punk band or the only rock band" but that's about it.

L: My biggest worry is that sometimes there's only one tom instead of two. That's all I think about.

So what future plans do you have for your music?

L: We're going to Spain on vacation! Then returning on September 2nd, which is move in day for [Trent University, the school Laura and Natalie will be attending next year]. We've already booked our first gig in Peterborough, so we've got that. I think a lot of people are going to be confused because we'll be based out of Peterborough, but we're still planning on doing Toronto shows. We also recorded the new songs, and we're just waiting for this guy to finish mixing them, which is a pain in the butt. 

N: ...and writing new songs, I gotta get on that. That's pretty much it.

Hold on a sec, are those dudes tuning a harp?

N: Yeah, I think so.

Cool. Well, I'm done my questions, anything else you want to add?

N: Thanks for the interview!

L: Stay safe!

~ ~ ~

Do yourself a favour and check out/pick up Watershed Hour's debut EP, Bend Your Knees, on Bandcamp.