Interview: Tre Watson
Once in a while in a musical movement, a record comes along and changes the rules, shaking out the pretenders and moving its chosen genre forward. Pop had Sgt. Pepper, hardcore had Zen Arcade, thrash had Master of Puppets and now the growing, but no less nascent genre of djent (onomatopoeic for the sound [...]
Once in a while in a musical movement, a record comes along and changes the rules, shaking out the pretenders and moving its chosen genre forward. Pop had Sgt. Pepper, hardcore had Zen Arcade, thrash had Master of Puppets and now the growing, but no less nascent genre of djent (onomatopoeic for the sound of a palm-muted chord) has encountered its landmark. Baltimore, Maryland’s Tre Watson‘s self-released solo record, Death of a Monarch debuted to high praise from the online metal community, and rightly so, setting as it does a new standard in the relatively miniscule but burgeoning world of djent. Drop-d recently dropped him a line and caught up with the man himself.
Death of a Monarch has been released lately, how has the response been? How do you reckon it’s gone down?
It’s been pretty good, I’d say! Close to 2000 downloads on my Bandcamp, however many else everywhere else and my likes on Facebook more than tripled. It was really exciting! And I’m really happy and grateful it went that way.
Was it a conscious thing, to move in a more prog direction, as opposed to simply following on in the djent genre’s now well-established pattern? Or was it naturally what you were doing?
It was a pretty natural step, and I didn’t have to think too hard about it. My ideas had just been more prog-minded/melodic in general.
For such a niche genre, particularly in the past year or so, djent has risen quickly through the musical ranks. The sound has been well-defined by now, and it’s gotten to the point where newspapers at this side of the water are looking at it the same way they are a number of other upcoming sub-genres in other music styles. What do you make of all the attention it’s gotten?
I feel like it’s a great buzzword for bands who have a particular percussive direction, and a great way to describe the style. I’m a little iffy with calling it a “genre” since a lot of it seems like just plain old prog, but it seems I’m not the only one who feels that way, and that’s no reason to really go hating on a style (though I joke about hating it a lot, it’s mostly tongue in cheek though, I promise). That said, if it helps these awesome and talented acts get out, it’s a good thing.
Do you ever see yourself being part of the big deal being made of it? The League of Extraordinary Djentlemen tour over here, for example?
I’d love to. so many talented acts traveling and spreading this new face of heavy and mind-blowing music, I’d love to even feel worthy enough of doing something awesome like that.
Aside from the prog influences that have pockmarked the album, there’s a number of different, very sci-fi inflected titles (ie. Charmander is Evolving!). How much of an influence has science fiction and nerd culture been on the music?
Oh, an insane amount. if I’m not doing music or college related things, I’m pretty much doing nothing but playing video games on Steam, watching anime or weird movies or following reading computer blogs (laughs). If I didn’t do music, I’d probably be a shut-in or something (laughs).
You’re also in a band, Carthage, that are currently working away on a new E.P. How’s that going for ye?
Slowly. Very slowly. We planned to have this EP out a year ago, and I feel as though if I make people wait this long it had damn well be the best thing possible, so our new vocalist Eric is feeling out every part of the songs, I’m making sure every part is metronome precise and sounds huge. I’m working hard, so I can only hope people will really like it when it comes out.
As things move along, obviously the Internet has been a huge boon for the djent sub-genre/descriptor of music, but as mentioned earlier, the likes of Periphery are beginning to make it big, but who do you see coming up through the ranks that can help carry the whole thing forward?
Personally, bands like The Omega Experiment, Aliases, Monuments, and Encircle have been blowing my mind lately with the ideas they’ve been having. it seems they’re taking the djent sound in 4 separate directions, and I love all of them, those guys’ talent and writing is staggering and makes me feel like I need to try really, really hard to keep up. Those guys have amazing songwriting chops.
On the other side of the coin , I remember some friends on an internet forum say, “What will metal be doing in 5 years?”; “Whatever Meshuggah will be doing in two” so there’s that as well.
You’re also known as somewhat of a collaborator, with among others, Drewsif Stalin. Do you feel there could stand to be more collusion between artists in a genre full of soloists?
Absolutely. I feel as though that’s one of the biggest strengths of this community is that we bridge and network and add our own ideas to others and collaborate quite heavily, adding extra dimensions and innovation to these projects. everyone reaching out and working together on this scale is something I see NOWHERE else. and it’s pretty much the coolest thing around. More collabs need to happen, for sure.
What does 2011 hold for Tre Watson? Any more solo releases/collabs in the pipeline?
Well, I’m working on the Re-monarch release which is the album with a host of guest vocalists who are ridiculously talented. A few were already released (Hayato Imanishi, Ray Clark, Drewsif Stalin, Chad Haynes) and a few are going to be working in the near future (Like Chris Barretto, and hopefully Greg Pope, if he agrees to work with me.) And there may or may not be a something in the works that may or may not be in excess of 15 minutes long. Possibly. Maybe. Probably. Probably not.
Old Pokemon or new? What do you think of the new crop of Pokemon, actually?
The old ones, for one reason. The new set stopped the number at 649, which set off my OCD hardcore. “They couldn’t make one more?!”
Tre’s album Death of a Monarch is available for download from his Bandcamp page and streaming from the widget below.