Watch Me Breathe are a progressive pop-rock band from Santa Cruz, California made up of Jake Ward (lead singer and guitarist), Ryan Green (bassist) and Carl Ward (baby brother and drummer).
Tell us about the history of the band?
Jake: The whole thing started as a collection of songs I’d written as a solo side project, but in late 2017 I decided to release them under a band name instead. The first album, The Lighter Side of Darkness, came out in February 2018, and the 3 of us have been performing material live together since the following summer in 2018.
How would you describe your music?
Jake: Well, it’s certainly far towards the “commercial” end of the spectrum. I’m definitely a pop songwriter, and I think, at least lyrically and melodically, the material is highly accessible. But I also feel like there are ways in which we’re kind of pioneering our own little niche genre. My guitar playing is heavily (no pun intended) influenced by progressive metal groups like ERRA, Invent Animate, Periphery, and Novelists, and we use a lot of unusual percussion elements and flavours that I think many would describe as “wild” or “worldly.” The running title is “progressive pop-rock,” but you’d have to listen yourself to assess the accuracy of that description.
What are your influences/musical heroes?
Jake: So freaking many. Musically, I think my biggest heroes are Switchfoot, Peter Gabriel, The Goo Goo Dolls, and Imogen Heap, but I have many other influences, not just musically, but from all kinds of different areas. I love reading JD Salinger, looking at paintings by people like Van Gogh and Da Vinci (who are in some ways polar opposites), poetry, dance, theatre, on and on. I find art to be an endlessly broad term and I find inspiration all over it.
What record are you currently listening to?
Jake: The most recent discovery I can recall making was of this two-man synthwave group called The Midnight. Not typically my cup of tea, but man, these guys write great stuff and have an amazing style/brand. Totally worth checking out. They’ve got a few albums, and they’re all good. I think my favourite overall that I’ve been jamming a lot is called Days of Thunder.
What is your favourite song to perform live?
Jake: I find this is usually a tough question because every show and crowd is slightly different. I’d say the most consistently hard-hitting song we play live every show is Fire, from our first album. People always get real stoked on that one!
What would be your dream tour to be a part of?
Jake: I could imagine that opening for either The 1975 or 30 Second To Mars on tour would be pretty unbeatable for us. That seems like our crowd, from what I can tell.
What’s the funniest/weirdest experience you’ve had on tour?
Jake: Believe it or not, we are yet to tour! We’ve only been a band for just over a year, but we’re getting there – so keep an eye out! I can definitely tell you a story about the worst/best show we’ve played so far though… My friend was moving out of this really nice two-story house just outside the city limits, and he was throwing this enormous moving-away house show party.
As you can imagine, throwing a huge rock show in a house you’re about to move out of does not translate into a healthy sense of respect for property. I think he even hired a brewery to do catering in his living room, so there was beer everywhere and the crowd was basically a drunken mob crashing around the house, knocking over speakers and mic stands, getting in fights, and in general just leaving behind a trail of total destruction everywhere.
The crazy thing I had to do was tell off this hammered asshole that stole the mic during our set and who started accusing people in the audience of stealing his phone, which he’d obviously dropped somewhere in the soup of his intoxication.
I don’t think I’ve ever been angrier at another person in my life, or closer to getting in a physical altercation. But eventually, he just sort of wandered off – whether that had anything to do with my intervention is lost to history.
The worst part of that show was unloading the gear after our set; there was such a thick endless sea of drunk people in the way, we practically needed Moses as a roadie. But I’m glad we had the experience!
What are your current thoughts on the music industry?
Jake: Numerous and complicated. I think the bottom line for me is I see an opportunity to contribute something meaningful, and I intend to do that. Somehow I sense it might be needed…but my actions and whatever I can manage to achieve in practice will speak louder to that point than my words.
What advice would you give someone starting their own band?
Jake: Be yourself and be honest. Having 10 fans who love you for who you really are is infinitely better than having a million fans who only love a character you’re playing. I should know – we probably have at least 10 fans by now!
What are your future plans?
Jake: We’re getting ready to release a sophomore album in September called The Strange Pull of What You Really Love, which will hopefully be followed by lots of shows, maybe a tour or two, and a continuation down our current track of garnering more attention and more fans.