Richard Watts
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"Conversation with Richard Watts, August 2000"

A Conversation with Richard Watts
by Brian Beam
Dallas, TX -- August 9, 2000

After the show at the Bronco Bowl in Dallas, TX on August 9, 2000, I had the pleasure of sitting down backstage with Alvino Bennet and Richard Watts -- Robin Trower's current drummer and bass player/vocalist. Here is a transcription of my conversation with Richard.

Brian: So tell me Richard, this is the second leg of your first tour with Robin, so tell us what you think about being a professional musician with one of the legends of the business.
Richard: I've known Robin for a lot of years through family, so I've had a different relationship with him. I've been fortunate to know him for so long, and this whole tour has been a complete eye opener and a really good experience, and I've learned so much. I've been able to focus on what I want to do in the future... where I want to take my own music... It's been amazing. Words can't describe it.
Brian: So tell me about your own music that you write.
Richard: It's kind of in its early stages. I've been writing my own material for a long time. I used to write with a friend at school... And we wrote for a while, and then I branched out on my own. I started writing on the keyboards, and then I got to guitar. It (my music) is very guitar based now, mainly on acoustic, when I write it. And I'm developing how I want to do it; where I want to take it. I'm after a sound that's very real, but it's still in development. But I definitely know that it's the way forward for me. And this has been a great start. And this is my first proper break and I'm just grateful to Robin for having me on.
Brian: So you've know Robin for many years as a family friend?
Richard: Yeah, I used to hang out with his son. We went to the same school...
Brian: I had the pleasure of watching the show with your wife and we were chatting back and forth. She mentioned that you both go back a long ways, and that she knows Robin also as a family friend. This was really her first time seeing a Robin Trower show, and she was kind of amused that all these people were clapping and doing the "we're not worthy" thing...
Richard: Yeah. You build up this perspective of somebody, and then you're exposed to this totally different side of somebody. And it's quite mind blowing.
Brian: Was that kind of the same with you, since you've known Robin, and then ended up involved with him musically?
Richard: Sort of. Having been working with him off and on with some of my stuff, and then his material and his most recent album, I kind of got in that frame of mind that he's a very talented musician. So I have that little advantage over Sisca. But it has been a mind expanding thing to see how dedicated the fans are to him. It's amazing.
Brian: We ARE fanatics.
Richard: It's great!
Brian: I remember the first Robin Trower show I went to. It was 1988, I think. I didn't know anyone else who had even heard of Robin Trower... So when my wife andI went to the show, I was expecting it would be just us -- that we'd be the only ones there. But there were all these other people (screaming and yelling for Robin)... I thought, Wow, these are all people I have something in common with.
Richard: And that devotion really does feed you when you're on stage. I mean to look out there and see those people loving it. It really does fill your whole energy and excite your performance. It's a key thing for me, to my performance. It's great.
Brian: So it sounds like you're naturally a keyboard player first?
Richard: Yes. I started out on electronic organ. Then onto keyboards. Then I tried some piano. And then as I said, at school we used to play guitar.
Brian: When did you pick up the bass?
Richard: I picked up the bass specifically to come on this tour.
Brian: So Robin said, "I need a bass player, and..."
Richard: Yeah, we talked about bass, and basically I was determined to learn it. I just love the whole rise of picking up a new instrument and having a go... I would never claim to be a bass player, as such, but I feel I can do the job right, you know? So, I do the job.
Brian: Well, you seem to hold your own pretty well.
Alvino: He's done a really good job.
Richard: I feel like I really want to develop it... I've got that hunger. To conquer something the best you can. It's been great.
Brian: Let me ask you... as Robin Trower's vocalist, all his vocalists have to go through the... James Dewar comparisons . How have you handled that?
Richard: When I was learning the material, I listened to James' vocals, and I wanted to try and recreate those -- within my own interpretation -- but close enough for people to sing along. And I've got this thing that people hear a performance of a song on an album, then when they come to a gig, I personally want to give them what they know, so that they can sing along and enjoy it. That's why they came.
Brian: Well, I think you've done an admirable job. And we've had lots of comments on the website about the performances, and everybody has had nothing but great things to say about both your vocals and your bass playing. We've even had people say that they've liked your vocals BETTER than Jimmy Dewar's on some of the classic songs.
Richard: Really? Wow!
Brian: Let me ask, since you learned the bass for this specific gig with Robin, do you find it hard to sing and play the bass at the same time?
Richard: Initially, I had to do it all a bit slower. But since I've played piano...I've learned a separation. You have to have this thing in your mind where you play one part first, learn it back to front, then play the other part, and then play both really slowly until it clicks. And there is a point when it just clicks and you've got it. It's the same with the bass. I sat down learning the material, learning the bass lines and then set up trying to learn to sing over it. It does take awhile, but it really does kick into gear after time.
Brian: What does the future hold for Richard Watts?
Richard: As much as possible.
(laughter)
Richard: (continues) To just take my music, in it's purest form, the way that I want and put a band around it and keep it real. I don't really want to go the whole sweet pop route. Because I look young, I have this aversion to being taken down this pop-teen route. And it's not me.
Brian: How old are you, by the way?
Richard: 26. But people think I'm about 18. I used to hate that, but now it's a real advantage.
Brian: When you're an old man like Alvino, you'll appreciate it.
(laughter)
Richard: He's looking great!
Brian: Yeah, he looks good for an old man.
(more laughter)
Richard: (continues) But, I want to go as far as I can. I think I've got a product that people will listen to. But I want to keep it true to myself. You know? And make a living out of it. To be doing what Robin's doing at his age would be flat out. I could only dream to still be doing it then. So, that's what I aspire to.
Brian: Well, I think you've got a great career ahead of you. And all of the people that have been to the Trower Power website are very impressed with your abilities...
Richard: That's very flattering.
Alvino: I'm just the drummer.
Richard: Hey, man. You're the guy who holds it all together.
Alvino: I do want to add... later in the year I'm producing a young lady named Celeste Donahue. Can you hear me? CELESTE DONAHUE! And I'm writing and producing this young lady. And those people kind of, like, slag drummers for not knowing anything. No, I'm teasing. Serious, but teasing. And so I want people to look out for that... That's what I'm beginning to do. And I'll be coming off the road soon... in the next three years and looking forward to things to do. So, folks, listen up... Celeste Donahue.
Brian: Well, on that note, I guess we'll wrap it up. Thanks, Alvino. Thanks, Richard. I appreciate it, and I wish you all the very best in the future.
Alvino: Thank you.
Richard: Thank you very much.


________________________________________
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- Steve Shail


Discography

Radiate EP
Available from itunes

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Bio

Richard Watts is a singer, song writer and musician based in the South East of England. He has been writing songs for a number of years and has collaborated with various people on different projects. He has a long list of songs covering different genres and continues to look for new collaborations and fresh opportunities in all areas of music including TV and Films.

Working with guitar legend Robin Trower on various tours between 1999 and 2004 has given Richard a solid grounding in live performance and vocal sessions, as well as a number of co-writing credits on Robin's more recent albums. (see trowerpower.com) Richard has also recently done vocal sessions for Katrina and the Waves and is open to more sessions in any style.

Richard is currently working in a successful covers band called Hussy(www.hussyband.com) performing at various events all over the country, as well as On the Couch, an acoustic duo, and solo work as a pianist at Friern Manor Country House.

Richard remains highly creative and looks forward to making many new and exciting connections.