Interviews: Watch Me Breathe

In this new occasion, we have had the opportunity to interview the Rock band Watch Me Breathe from the USA. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band name, you planned it or came out just like that?

Jake Aaron Ward: I’m a huge John Cleese fan (Monty Python) and the name came from something he said during an interview when he happened to mention how old he was (70-something, I don’t remember exactly). As you’d expect, the audience interrupted his train of thought with a congratulatory round of applause. Being John Cleese, instead of simply feigning polite gratitude, he took the opportunity to make a joke. “Yeeeesss, watch me breathe. Watch me breathe!” Don’t ask me why that stuck with me, but it did, and to this day I’m incredibly stoked to have that as a band name. It’s just the right amount on nonsense - I love the idea that people probably hear it for the first time and think “God, what a stupid band name. What does that even mean?” But they instantly remember it.

2. Why did you want to play this genre?

Jake Aaron Ward: Feel free to roll your eyes at this if you must, but I seriously hate genres and do my best to ignore their restrictions. The music I write for Watch Me Breathe is exclusively what I think sounds the best, and I have a really eclectic background of influences that I deliberately try to always expand and further complicate. Before it sounds too much like I’m entirely high and mighty, though, let me tell you, this has been a huge problem for us. The music industry infrastructure for artists trying to reach a wider audience is unbelievably dependent on strict genre classification. Is it “pop” that sounds like Ariana Grande? Is it “rock” that sounds like Foo Fighters? Is it “indie” that sounds like Arctic Monkeys? Is it “electronic” that sounds like deadmau5? Is it hip/hop or rap like Drake or Travis Scott? Then what is it? Good luck finding playlists for it. I came up with this term “progressive pop rock” because I think that best describes what we’re doing, but nobody knows what that is, so it poses some real challenges. I think in the long run it’s going to pay off though. 

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed?

Jake Aaron Ward: Yes! Carl and I are brothers, so he’s known me his entire life, and I’ve known him since I was 3. Ryan and I were friends for several years before he joined this project and we’d played in another Santa Cruz band called Urban Theory together.

4. Each band member favorite band?

Jake Aaron Ward: Goo Goo Dolls

Carl Ward: Switchfoot

Ryan Green: The Beatles

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs?

Jake Aaron Ward: There’s a van that drives around Santa Cruz that is completely covered in wild strokes of neon paint, and it sticks out unmistakably everywhere it goes like a sore thumb. Sometimes I’ve heard music blasting from it. Other times I see it parked on the side of the road, its owners probably off on some whacky adventure somewhere. Written in spray paint across the roof is a simple question: “Why fit in when you could stand out?” This is a window to the vast wonderland that lies patiently waiting beyond the monotony of ordinary life. That’s just one example, but I’d say it is these glimpses I catch that inspire me to create.

6. Where was your last gig?

Jake Aaron Ward: We played an awesome show at The Crepe Place in Santa Cruz with our friend Ajimas and Coastal Greeting. It was a wildly fun summer extravaganza and I’d love to do it again sometime soon.

7. Where would you like to act?

Jake Aaron Ward: I love traveling, and I’ve been fortunate to do it a lot so far in 23 years. I think my favorite city I’ve been to so far is Amsterdam. I’d be pretty cool to play a set in one of their stoner bars where you can just buy joints over the counter. To be honest, it’s hard to imagine that would top performance I did already though. In high school, as part of the Values class, I mentioned earlier, my classmates and I went to South Africa. While there, we visited a high school in a township called Tembisa, which was fun of musically gifted kids our age. They let myself and some friends get up onstage in their main recital hall and spontaneously perform some music. The main song I remember us playing was “American Idiot” by Green Day, a tasteful choice for international ambassador work. The kids were dancing and cheering and having a hell of a time. It was incredible.

8. Whom would you like to feature with?

Jake Aaron Ward: My big musical obsession right now is with Jacob Collier. I’d love to work with him and perform with him, even though it would be utterly humiliating.

9. Whom not?

Jake Aaron Ward: Interesting! I could easily say R Kelly, but I suppose that’s kind of dodging the question. It’s hard to think of anybody I wouldn’t want to work with for strictly musical reasons. Obviously, there are notorious assholes who I would just prefer to avoid in general, but as far as musical compatibility is concerned, I sort of feel like the more eclectic and unlikely, the more interesting and appealing. Sting recently made a record with Shaggy. Lil Wayne at least tried to tour with Blink 182. That’s good stuff! My hostility towards genre confinements makes me inherently attracted to wild collaborations like these, and I doubt there is any possible collaboration so wild that I would reject it in principle.

10. Any of you has ever suffered from stage fright? Any tip for beginners on how to beat that?

Jake Aaron Ward: We’re all pretty experienced onstage. Ryan is about as extroverted as they come and probably suffers more from off-stage fright. Carl and I both went through a mandatory performing arts program at Mount Madonna that included things like “song-share” where every student gets up in front of the whole school and sings acapella. Every. Student. So at this point I’m so accustomed to singing and performing in front of an audience that I rarely get nervous or jittery. That being said, if I were to try to offer advice to someone with stage fright, I would encourage them to look at the preconceptions that are telling them they should have it. Anxiety about performing comes from uncertainty about performing “well,” or thinking about what might go “wrong.” It’s a different thing from excitement about what can go right, which I have all the time and can feel like butterflies, but in a good way. I’d say concepts like performing “well” and things going “wrong” are subjective, so it’s up to you how to define them. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself. And no matter what, don’t ever care what anybody thinks about you. Aspire not to give a shit.

11. What bands have inspired you the most?

Jake Aaron Ward: Switchfoot has got to be my biggest continual inspiration, but I’m also deeply inspired by Goo Goo Dolls, John Mayer, Peter Gabriel, Sting, U2, Frou Frou/Imogen Heap...the list goes on and on. One artist that I often forget to mention that has been a huge influence on me growing up (and specifically on the music I write) is a band called Falling Up. They had an album in the mid-2000’s called Crashings that I used to play all the time, and that sound, with the crazy rhythms and amazing guitars, is hugely, hugely a part of our sound now.

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for?

Jake Aaron Ward: I’m yet to get a request that I felt was excessively weird. Most of the time, fans I talk to just want to know about the band, new music, and sometimes want to learn how to play our stuff, which I take as a seriously huge compliment and is something I always do my best to help facilitate.

13. What do you think of your fans?

Jake Aaron Ward: I’m just cranking out tunes in my studio that align with my personal tastes and come entirely from my own heart and soul, so when people out there hear it and recognize it, it’s hard to describe what that feels like. I love that I don’t have to think of my fans as “customers.” A lot of musicians do. “Hey, thanks for picking up our product. We hope you enjoy it.” It’s much more profound and enriching for me because I’m not designing the “product” at all. It’s just me. So when people connect with that, if anything, it’s like a friendship, rather than a business relationship.

14. What do you think of our site?

Jake Aaron Ward: It’s totally rad! Thank you guys for supporting underground music and helping artists such as myself! I hope my answers return the favor in some way.

15. Something to add?

Jake Aaron Ward: If you’ve read this far and want to know where to go next, is the place to go! It’s a hub for all our social media and streaming, plus you can check out show dates and buy merch ;)

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