Prepare For Good Times with Watashi Wa
Watashi Wa has returned, so prepare for good times and exhilarating tunes ahead! The California band was founded and fronted by singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer Seth Roberts. Joined by Jeremy Wells (bass), Miles Castenholtz (guitar), Teddy Ramirez (drums), Roger Tompkins (guitar), and Tyler Tedeschi (guitar, co-producer), Roberts and Watashi Wa now present People Like People via Tooth & Nail Records to the world at large! The long awaiting next chapter in the Watashi Wa legacy, People Like People was created in the midst at Covid-19 as a way for music to reconnect us all to the positive things in this life we live. Highwire Daze recently interviewed Seth Roberts to find out more about the reemergence of Watashi Wa, creating People Like People during the divisive age of Covid-19, upcoming touring plans, and more!
What made you decide that 2022 would be the perfect time to release a new Watashi Wa CD?
You know, it felt like the right time. I think when the pandemic hit, and making music during that time, the music that just kind of came out felt like Watashi Wa music – in a way that it was kind of upbeat, hopefully gets people feeling positive and dancing. Originally, we thought we were going to be releasing it in 2021 – and 2022 just felt like the right time.
And with his album, you’re back at the scene of the crime so to speak – Tooth & Nail. What made you decide to go back to Tooth & Nail after all of this time?
You know, I really got into music and playing music through really loving Tooth & Nail’s catalog when I was young. Some of the first bands that I learned to play guitar to were Tooth & Nail bands. So, that’s always been a big part of who Watashi Wa is – that foundation – a big part of that is Tooth & Nail. So, I think when I started to look at it from “how could we make the most ‘Watashi Wa’ album ever?” I think putting it out with Tooth & Nail was kind of a big part of that, just because we have that history – both working with them and from the cultural influence on how it’s impacted the music we make.
The new album is entitled People Like People. Is there any overall story or concept behind that first of all?
Definitely. The last album we put out as the band was called Eager Seas – and originally, we were going to call it People Like People back then. And then, when I started to work on this album, a lot of the content of this album is about just people connecting. And a lot of the subjects on the album – a lot of the topic’s kind of deal with technology – our relationship with technology – and maybe the ideas of spending less time with technology and more time with people and each other. I think seeing how much disconnection is happening in the world, that title started to make sense. A lot of the song’s kind of deal with how both people are similar to each other and how people appreciate each other. I think the lens in the world right now feels pretty divisive, but I think we’re a lot more similar than that lens. I think people are really similar to each other and really appreciate each other if we stop to share our ideas and our hearts with each other. I think it’s pretty easy to emphasize. So, a lot of the album kind of has that theme, so we thought that would be a perfect title to call it.
What was it like writing an album right in the midst of Covid-19?
It was therapeutic. It was definitely different from a creative point of view – but that also became a creative fuel in a way to get more ideas out. The world just felt kind of crazy and different. And seeing how it impacted my family, my wife, and kids, and also my community of friends – how disconnected people were in the world – isolated to their house and not spending time with each other and sharing ideas as much. So, I think art and music – any type of art forms are so good at being able to connect people and connect ideas. So, I think making music during the pandemic – we felt really inspired and really motivated, I think, to make music that would be impactful and connect people and maybe give people permission to share their ideas. I think in a lot of ways, there’s no way this album would be what it is if we didn’t make it during that time in the world.
You even have a few Covid related songs on here. Why don’t you select two songs from the new album and what inspired the lyrics for you?
Related to the last questions, a handful of songs on the album kind of deal with or express ideas through this perspective of what was going on in the world through Covid-19 and the pandemic. The first song we put out, Let Me Prepare You, it kind of deals with these ideas of life has these ups and downs – it’s like a series of challenges and growth cycles – and probably the most natural thing in life is change. That song became almost a personal anthem, but something we could offer up to say “Hey, let’s just try to use gratitude and thankfulness for how amazing life is – even though it is kind of up and down – ands kind of celebration – and use those bad times to define you and the good times have that to contrast and really feel more thankful because of those ‘bad times.’” And Let Me Prepare You – that kind of dealt with a very specific time we were going through, but it’s also a song that could live on – generally life will always be this way for people – that series of growth and challenges.
And then another song I think is kind of different for us is actually called Xcovid19x – and it’s kind of a hardcore punk song, which is different for us. We normally don’t do that type of music – we’re more of a pop band. We did that song with our friend Josh that used to be in Dogwood. I was having a lot of great conversations with him at the time, and just this idea of “Hey, we don’t want to be divided anymore as people. We’re sick of the arguments. Let’s just come together.” And I think Covid-19, no matter what your opinion or world view is – an emotion that I feel we can all agree on, is some sense of frustration or pent up angry. Like “Why? Why?” We felt like hardcore was a cool genre to express that passion and emotion. Also, it’s a way to lighten – kind of not diminish the seriousness of what happened – but at least offer something lighthearted that can hopefully give people a sense of looking back on that time with thankfulness – like some kind of joy – just trying to lighten it a little bit. It’s a dangerous line to walk, but we thought it was a good genre of music to use for it. We’re trying to make the album as dynamic as the world is feeling.
The Love Of Life turns 20 next year. Looking back on that album and the fact that it’s about to turn 20, what do you think of it now in retrospect?
I’m just so thankful for that time in our life – just such sweet, amazing memories of making that album – that was in itself, such an amazing experience that I’ll never forget. And I think that album – just like any music, I go through times I don’t listen to it that much. And even when I listen to it, you grow, you move past that stuff. But recently, we’ve been rehearsing a lot of the older material, because we’re going to start playing live again and touring. So, it’s been really cool revisiting that album and revisiting those songs. It definitely captures the youth that we had – at that time of our lives being young in our late teens/early twenties. I love that album. I would like to do something around the 20-year anniversary of it – I think that would be really cool!
Play the album in its entirety maybe?
Yeah, maybe. That would be awesome! I would love to do that!
The last time I saw Watashi Wa play was at Chain Reaction in Orange County while you were on tour for The Love Of Life. What are your favorite memories of playing Chain, and what are you looking forward to the most about going back and playing again?
I just got chills – that’s so cool! I have so many memories of playing Chain Reaction. Some of our earliest shows – I think even before I could drive, we played at Chain Reaction. Some of the biggest highlights of our early years were just playing with some of the amazing bands there. And we felt like “How are we playing with these bands and how are we playing here at Chain Reaction?” Even with other music projects I did, I would continue to go back there. It’s been a while since I’ve played there, so I’m curious. I’m so excited to play there, just because I have so many memories of the stage and the way it smelled and everything in there – it’s just like so cool! I vividly remember – I think my daughter’s first concert when she was a baby – she had earmuffs on – we played there with MXPX – we opened up for them. Yeah, so a ton of memories there. I’m really excited to go back and play on this upcoming tour.
And for people who don’t know about it, tell us about this upcoming tour.
We’re so excited! The label is doing their label’s best tour – so the concept is different regions have different bands. It’s going to be Emery and Norma Jean that we’ll be supporting. Tons of great bands all on the different legs of the tour. Check it out! We’ll be doing the West Coast, so we’re really excited. It’s going to be super fun. We toured more so with Emery back in the day, a little with Norma Jean – but I’m just so excited to spend time with them and obviously get out to play these songs – the old songs and the new songs and just reconnect with people that are familiar with the music. I’m just so excited! It’s been too long! We just had practice last night and it just feels so good to play these old songs – and the new ones too! So, I’m excited to share on the road for sure!
What do you hope the rest of 2022 brings for you and Watashi Wa?
I hope this music just gets out to the masses and that we’re at the Grammy’s next year. (Laughs) Nah, I definitely – we love this music, and we love being able to share, hopefully, positive music that gets people connected and feeling good. Just want to get the music out. We’re looking to tour as much as we can. Any bands who want to tour, let us know. But yeah, just hoping to get the music out and hopefully people love it and are happy.
Do you have any messages for Watashi Wa fans who are reading this right now?
Just so thankful for everyone who’s connected with our music over the years – and stayed connected and listening. We’re excited to share so much more music coming up. This album May 20th – People Like People – and excited to reconnect on the road, play those old songs. And just thank you so much to anyone who’s listened to Watashi Wa ever – even if you don’t like it…
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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