Headliner.fm Interviews: The Watermarks

A lot of cool bands have signed up for Headliner.fm recently. I try to spend a little time each week listening to our user’s music and finding new bands I like. One band that recently caught my ear was The Watermarks. The Watermarks have a great sound: heavy synths, fuzzy guitars and catchy hooks that sort of recall the Jesus and Mary Chain.  The group, which is based out of Houston, has opened for some huge bands including Broken Social Scene and The Ting Tings. So far, on Headliner the group has made 3 connections and reached 8,000+ new fans.You can visit their official site here: The Watermarks.

I had the opportunity to do a brief interview with Jason and Cesar of The Watermarks, via email, where we talked about their experiences as an indie band in 2010. Check it out!

How would you guys describe your sound?

Jason – Electronic, shoe gaze, noise pop, with a 60’s pop influence.

Cesar – I’ve always say we’re electro-pop-rock. I guess the current term for our type of music is indie rock. If it was up to me, I’d just call it rock n’ roll.

How did you guys end up signing up for Headliner?

Jason – We heard great things about the site, and love the idea of it.  A band in today’s industry would be crazy not to sign up with Headliner.  It offers so many chances to get your messages out to a fan base of like-minded bands that might not otherwise be available.

You opened for numerous artists, which would you say was your favorite experience?

Jason – There have been tons of great ones, but my favorite would have to be playing with The Ting Tings at House Of Blues.  Great show with a great band at a great venue!

Cesar – The Ting Tings. We got treated super well by the venue. We got our own backstage room with food, TV, towels and everything! The Ting Tings, Jules and Katie, and their whole crew are really nice and friendly, very down to earth people. And playing in front of 800 people, who were into our music without even knowing who we were, also helps. of course.

Do you hope to some day get a record deal, or would you stay DIY?

Jason – I think labels as we know them are an endangered species.  In the future labels might start to work in a way that allows artists to remain “DIY”.  If that were to happen then maybe we’d take a deal, but for the time being we are having more fun and being allowed more opportunities by doing everything DIY.

Cesar – It’s hard to say. I don’t hope to get a record deal, at least not with a major, because I know this won’t happen. The music industry has changed so much in the past few years and it’s still changing. I think that labels started as music filters, as people with the resources to support what they thought was good music, and they used to do it for the love of music, not for the love of money. Back in the day, there used to be something called “artist development”. They knew that sometimes an artist was not going to become a major hit right away, and they would work with the artists, little by little, until they gained some degree of success. In that sense a label would be a great. Nowadays, a label doesn’t have to be “a label”, it could be anyone interested in backing up what they believe is good music. Musicians like us, with barely any resources for touring, promoting our music, merch, etc, would bennefit greatly with that kind of support, which combined with all the effort we’re already putting into it, could take us to the next level. Now, we’re not waiting for anything to happen.

What are you doing to get your music to more people?

Jason – We give all our stuff away for free.  “Pay what you wish” for MP3s on the website, free CDs at shows, etc.  We are also trying to make our social media sites more personal.  We don’t only send out “release news” or “shows news”, but we try to engage out fans in a more personal way.

Cesar – We’re doing everything we possibly can. What I think has been the most important thing is the proper use of social media to engage the fans or potential fans. Some of us also do it with our own personal accounts, and to me, it has not only been successful, but also fun. It’s not about promoting our music or products, it’s about having a conversation with the people interested in our music or music in general. We don’t want to be seen as a product, but as five human beings who love music as much as our fans do.

We are also starting a new project in the couple weeks.  We call it “The Watermarks Open Song Project” of WOSP.  We are creating a website which will document our in studio song writing process.  We will be making posts of the songs progress from the very first little idea until a completed track is released.  Fans will be able to see, and hear, every step of the writing process, and are welcome to leave comments, etc.  It will be available at www.thewatermarks.net or a sub-blog.

You guys have been together for quite a while, how has your sound changed over the last few years?

Jason – I feel we have a harder yet more danceable sound now than we used to have.

Cesar – I don’t think it has changed, I think it’s had a natural evolution. I think our songs have become more solid, and we have a better idea of what we want to do. Even when Jason and I started the band long ago, I don’t really feel like we were really The Watermarks until Nick started playing with us. I think he brought in the element that finally made us a band.

We see you’re taking Radiohead’s approach at selling your album for whatever price somewhat feels like paying. Has that helped you grow your fanbase?

Jason – It certainly has.  It’s more important for us to have 100 people hear our songs for free than to sell 10 CDs.  Since we began giving our stuff away tons more people have taken the time to listen to it, and since we began doing “pay what you wish” exponentially more people have downloaded our music.

Cesar – I believe so. We’re not making much money, but people like good + free. We certainly work hard to put out a product of quality, and at this stage of the game what we want is for our music to reach as many people as possible, to be in people’s minds and iPods. It’s OK if we’re are not making any money, we do it because we love it anyways.