Doug Ratner & The Watchmen have covered a lot of ground in a pretty short space of time. If rock n roll and the highway make a perfect marriage, the power trio out of Longmeadow, Massachusetts has spent the last year-and-a-half on its honeymoon.
Doug Ratner (guitar, vocals), Rob Morales (bass) and Jimmy Farquhar (drums) assembled in early 2012 with a shared passion for triumphant riffs and perfect hooks. Since then, theyve completed an all-conquering tour of the U.S, released a critically-acclaimed EP (Lessons Well Learned) and recorded a brand new batch of pickup-truck anthems and country-fried rockers. With one foot planted in the Summer of Love, the other rooted in the golden age of grunge and a few sneaky fingers swirling around a bowl of Southern grits, The Watchmen have mined the best parts of our rock n roll heritage to produce a wholly original sound.
And they play it the way it was meant to be heard: loud, greasy and instantly familiar.
Make no mistake about it. This band wants to party. They want to get down. They want to come to your town and make you forget the job or the girl or the life thats got you feeling low. Ratners playing conjures Keith Richards on a biscuits and-gravy bender and his vocals suggest the wry, good-natured rebellion of early Tom Petty. Robs sneaky bass lines evoke the menacing post-punk humor of Black Flag and Jimmy punctuates the bands sound with a cage-rattling classic rock thump.
Like all truly great rock n roll bands, the Watchmen are also just a little bit of trouble, a quality perhaps best-exemplified by their appearance on the popular local television show, Mass Appeal. The band was unceremoniously banished from the set for playing their incendiary single, Bomb in the Backseat, while smashing a laptop during a live broadcast. The band does not expect to be invited back for an encore performance.
Of course, any such destruction is strictly in the name of good fun. Doug Ratner is a rock n roll idealist at heart and a topflight hook-smith to boot. Under his leadership, The Watchmen have crusaded to prove that rock n roll still has the power to save.
As the bands namesake and longest tenured member, Ratner has one album already under his belt with an earlier incarnation of The Watchmen. Skope Magazine called 2009s self-released Eye to Eye Garage-y and retro but polished and contemporary.
This balance is pushed to even greater effect on Run With Me, an album featuring a dozen new tunes by the recently minted trio. Released in August 2013 and engineered by Justin Pizzoferatto (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur, Jr.) Run With Me merges a punk sensibility and a sunny C&W groove with pure rock n roll swagger.
On lead single, If You Wanna, one gets the sense that The Watchmen would be as much at home sharing a bill with the Allman Brothers as backing Brad Paisley. Dont mistake their charm for complacency though. Be assured, The Watchmen are here to shake things up.
For 60 years straight, Ratner observes, there was a constant influx of bands and artists that all fell under the rock n roll spectrum and all of them were beacons of hope for people. What has happened to that? Where is the Bruce Springsteen of our generation that can help us fight through our burdens and struggles of this world? Well, I hope to be that iconic figure and we hope to spark a flame that will rekindle rock n roll music once and for all.