It’s been almost 30 years since the Winnipeg-bred, Toronto-based alt-rock band the Watchmen formed in 1988, but don’t tell them that — they haven’t been counting.
"Are you serious? I didn’t even know that," guitarist Joey Serlin belly-laughs into the phone from his Toronto studio when asked if the band had any plans to celebrate. "Maybe I should have waited one year to do this."
The "this" he is referring to is the release of the quartet’s very first full-length live album, Live and in Stereo, which was recorded during a performance at the Burton Cummings Theatre last year. It features the lineup of the band that’s been a constant since 1993 — Daniel Greaves on vocals, Serlin on guitar, bassist Ken Tizzard and drummer Sammy Kohn — and features songs from all five of their albums, which were each certified either Gold or Platinum in Canada.
A live album has been a long time coming, according to Serlin, who says fans have been asking for this kind of release from them for years. And, since the Watchmen really only perform live now and haven’t released new music (except for a couple of free downloads a few years ago) for quite some time, it seemed like a natural addition to the band’s catalogue.
"Our live show has always been a big part of what we do and I’m actually quite surprised we hadn’t done it (a live album) in the past. We had a little teaser EP on one of our albums — the first 5,000 people who bought the album got the EP — but beyond that, a full-blown live album was way overdue," says Serlin.
"We just thought it would be a nice thing to give to the fans, particularly our Winnipeg fans, because some of the most special shows have happened at the Burt."
Live and in Stereo (which is out Friday, April 7) comes as an eight-song, limited-edition vinyl package coupled with a digital release that contains the full 21-song concert, which includes such hits as All Uncovered, Boneyard Tree and Stereo. The album will be available at the Winnipeg show Saturday night.
It’s also the first collection of the Watchmen’s music to be released on Serlin’s own record label, Fifth Kid Records.
"It’s kind of complicated because I’m on both sides of the deal — I’m in the band, but I own the label too," Serlin explains. "But, we have a pretty significant amount of trust and the guys have been really great about letting me run with it and mixing it and mastering it the way that I wanted. They’re all really happy with it and quite appreciative of the effort that I put in.
"There’s definitely a sense of pride; what’s nice is there’s such an immediacy. I can just make a decision without having to go through a process of meetings and permission, so this has been quite liberating."