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Live in the Clubs: Charlie Watts Trio pens yule song

Thursday, December 22, 2011
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 The Charlie Watts Riots, from left, Seth Powell, Joe Putrock and Mike Pauley will be at Revolution Hall on Friday for a Christmas show. (photo: Kirsten Ferguson)
The Charlie Watts Riots, from left, Seth Powell, Joe Putrock and Mike Pauley will be at Revolution Hall on Friday for a Christmas show. (photo: Kirsten Ferguson)

Every year, the members of Albany rock band The Charlie Watts Riots do two to three Christmas shows.

And every year, they fight over which Christmas cover to play. “Not only is there a lack of preparation and time before the shows, but we can’t agree, so we argue and bicker and can’t think of a song,” said guitarist and vocalist Seth Powell, during a conference call with all three members of the band.

This year was no exception — until bassist Mike Pauley decided he had had enough.

“So Mike said, ‘You know what, maybe we’ll just write a song this year,’ ” Powell said. “And we were like, ‘Yeah, sure, Mike; we’ll do it in a week.’ And then at the next practice, Mike came in with the framework of a great idea for a song, about there not being any Christmas songs [for us to play]. Joe [Putrock, drummer] and I messed around with it for a bit and finished it up. We finished it on a Tuesday, recorded it on Thursday, and within a week of writing it, it’s in regular rotation at WEQX, WEXT — it’s being played on four or five radio stations right now.”

Holiday shows

Christmas Festivus

with Super 400, The Charlie Watts Riots, Fort Rooster

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Revolution Hall, 425 River St., Troy

How Much: $8 with non-perishable food item

More Info: 273-2337, www.capitalundergroundradio.com, www.brownsbrewing.com

The band has put the song, titled “The Christmas Fit,” to good use, kicking off its holiday season with a show at Valentine’s last weekend. On Friday, the band will open for Super 400 alongside Fort Rooster at the Capital Underground Radio Christmas Festivus show, which is being held at Revolution Hall. This is a one-off show for the venue, which closed down last summer and is now occasionally rented out by current owners Brown’s Brewing Company for private events such as this one.

“It’s just a great vibe — [Super 400] is from Troy, and I don’t know if they’ve played in a while,” Pauley said. “And us being able to play Revolution Hall — we’ve never played there, so it’s going to be an exciting night.”

Perhaps surprisingly, none of the band’s members played at once-burgeoning venue during its heyday, though all three have been longtime players on the local music scene. Powell and former guitarist/vocalist Brendan Pendergast first formed The Charlie Watts Riots in 2008, following Powell’s stints in Vodkasonics and Bloom, and Pendergast’s The Wait. Both had been frontmen in their previous bands, and decided to share songwriting and singing duties.

“We just did it as a writing experiment with Brendan and I writing songs together,” Powell said. “I ran a recording studio, and I had recorded a lot of Brendan’s stuff, so we just kind of thought, well, we’ve been in enough bands in close proximity to each other. So we just started doing some writing, and it sort of materialized into, ‘Hey, why don’t we make it a band?’ ”

Pendergast brought in his friend Putrock, who is also known in the region for his music photography, and original bassist Mark Connor, who left after a week and a half. Pauley, a member of Bloom alongside Powell, was a natural replacement.

The four-piece lineup grew a reputation for its hard-rocking yet melodic power-pop sound, influenced by The Beatles, Superdrag and The Rolling Stones (the band gets its name from the Stones’ drummer). “Long Story Short,” the group’s debut full-length recorded at Powell’s SoundCheck Republic studio, appeared in 2010, just in time for the group’s performance at that year’s Tulip Festival.

New identity

Six months ago, Pendergast moved to Virginia, leading the band to develop a new identity as a power trio. Since Pendergast’s departure, the group has focused on writing new material, with Pauley stepping up to fill the songwriting void.

“I think it was probably the first practice that we all knew Brendan was leaving, and we were thinking, were we gonna do the Casey Kasem long distance thing?” Powell said. “Between him living somewhere else, and the songs — none of us wanted to be a watered-down version of the band we were before. I really think that’s what caused us to, not consciously change direction, certainly, but we didn’t want to play the songs Brendan used to play on watered down. So we just started writing, and it kind of evolved into a little bit different sounding band. We couldn’t have predicted it, but the end result is great.”

The band, already known for its energetic performances, has only upped the energy in its live shows as a three-piece.

“I think it’s been great — this may sound like a dumb thing, but there’s more room onstage to move around, and it gives us a little bit more energy,” Pauley said.

“I think there’s more room in the songs, too, to move around — musically, for everybody to do their own thing now,” Putrock added. “Everybody is responsible for 30 percent more noise, to make up for being one guy down.”

 
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