JASON MCMASTER Explains How WATCHTOWER's Latest Reunion Came About

April 1, 2024

In a new interview with Mark Kadzielawa of 69 Faces Of Rock, WATCHTOWER singer Jason McMaster spoke about how the reunion of the legendary Texas progressive metal band came about. McMaster is joined in WATCHTOWER's current lineup by bassist Doug Keyser, guitarist Ron Jarzombek and drummer Ric Colaluca. Jason said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It's been over a year ago now, but a wonderful man by the name of Christian Larson, who is an organizer for a fantastic American, Texan — down in Houston, Texas, South Texas — organizer, co-creator for a festival that mirrors something as great as Keep It True in Germany called Hell's Heroes. And I believe that they're looking at about a decade of annual shows, the Hell's Heroes festival. So it's been around a little while. It was my first time playing there, and I can't think of a better way to be on their stages than with WATCHTOWER. Because they had SOLITUDE AETURNUS, they had HELSTAR — there was a major Texas contingency for obvious reasons — but they also had CANDLEMASS and CAULDRON and MIDNIGHT, and it just goes and goes and goes. Last year, they had Tom Warrior headline two out of maybe all three nights because Tom has TRIPTYKON and TRIUMPH OF DEATH, et cetera. I think he did a HELLHAMMER set, he did a CELTIC FROST set. So it's perfect because it brings all of Tom's projects as well as resurgences of doom and thrash. And it was a perfect sort of baton to be passed to WATCHTOWER. But Christian Larson, bless his soul, contacted me. We have a lot of mutual friends. He sent me an e-mail, basically just something like, 'What would it take to get you guys to reform, to play [WATCHTOWER's debut album, 1985's] 'Energetic Disassembly' album in its entirety?' And I have a bit of an opinion, and I hope I don't come off negatively when I say that I don't really like promoters suggesting or telling the bands, whether it's me or not, telling the bands what songs they are going to play. I prefer it to be the bands' choice for the bands' reasons as to why they play or do not play material. But I kind of let that go quickly because it was important to me, first to be invited. Second, I'll move on. The issues were immediately, it's like, in my head, I'm saying out loud, 'I haven't talked to those guys in a decade or more.' The last time I performed with WATCHTOWER would've been 20 years ago, in 2004. In 2010, a show that I booked, [WATCHTOWER's later vocalist] Alan Tecchio, under my nose, was invited to replace me to play Keep It True [festival] in 2010, which is a gig that I booked. But that's okay. Whatever. No harm done. And it's a small family. Whoever's been in WATCHTOWER, it's, like — I don't know. It's not like the turnover of members in WATCHTOWER has been 10 or 15 people; it's a small club. And I love Alan to death. So I was fine with it. But the point is that's what got the ball rolling. And then, almost immediately, maybe a week after it was announced that we were to play Hell's Heroes in Houston, which just happened a week ago, the phone started ringing, and Oliver from Keep It True was calling, and there were other smaller festivals and some stateside stuff. Anyway, so we played some warm-up shows. They went great, a lot of fun putting these songs back together with the guys. And we still have a couple more shows in the books. We're in Chicago very soon, and we're playing in Houston again very soon."

WATCHTOWER played its first reunion concert with McMaster on September 8, 2023 at Fitzgerald's Bar & Live Music Venue in San Antonio, Texas. This marked the progressive metal legends' first appearance with McMaster since the band's performances at Germany's Bang Your Head!!! festival in 2000 and Holland's Headway Festival in 2004.

Jason confirmed his return to WATCHTOWER in May 2023 during an appearance on the "Decibel Geek" podcast. He said at the time: "It's weird playing songs very sporadically. Because I've done reunion things with WATCHTOWER before, but the last one was 20 years ago. The last sort of reunion thing we did, we went to Amsterdam, and played a festival over there. And we did a couple of warmup shows around Texas before we got on the plane, kind of thing. And that was in 2004. So, singing songs that you wrote 40 years ago? It's crazy to think about that… And have them be legit. Play them, like, 'Holy shit.' And have all of the guys look around each other in rehearsal as old men and go, 'This shit is fucking hard to play.' But that's why people like it."

McMaster co-founded WATCHTOWER in 1982 and appeared on the band's 1985 debut album "Energetic Disassembly" before leaving three years later to focus on sleaze rockers DANGEROUS TOYS. Jason was replaced in WATCHTOWER by Tecchio (formerly of HADES),who sang on group's second and most recent studio album, 1989's "Control And Resistance". A reunion with McMaster followed in 1999 and lasted for several years, only for Jason to leave again. Tecchio returned for new material intended for WATCHTOWER's since-scrapped third album "Mathematics" that resulted in the 2016 EP "Concepts Of Math: Book One".

Jason previously stated about WATCHTOWER's early musical direction: "By the end of 1983, we had a set of unbelievable, technical, fast, crazy, time-changing, sophisticated sounds coming out of the mill we had created, making a planet that we didn't feel had been fully instigated. All of the lyrics were socially aware and some strange fascinations with nuclear power and some sort of holocaustic world (that had been dreamt up by guitarist Billy White and bassist Doug Keyser). They equally weirded each other out with their lyrics. I had no problem with the stuff they were pumping out. It was so tasteful, but yet had urgency and was frantic about the topics, mostly apocalyptic and socially chaotic on news issues. These were crazy words to sing over crazy changes."

He added: "I had no map. This wasn't rock and roll. I wrote all of the melodies (I use that word loosely) for the songs, and that was my contribution to the sound and timber, even though later on a few critics would learn to hate the style of 'pissed off Geddy Lee' vocals. It seemed to be most of the death metalhead mags would say that they 'love the band, hate the singer'."

In April 2010, WATCHTOWER played its first live show with Tecchio on vocals in some 20 years as co-headliners of Germany's Keep It True festival in Lauda-Königshofen.

Live video below by metal.leather.loudness

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