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Shine's CatchUp with June's Waterfront Wednesday Artists: The Watson Twins

Chandra and Leigh Watson
Elizabeth O. Baker
The Watson Twins
Chandra and Leigh Watson

Welcome to Shine's CatchUp where WFPK host Laura Shine catches up with musicians about their music, new albums, or whatever they've recently been up to.

June 28th's Waterfront Wednesday on The Big 4 Lawn in Waterfront Park promises to be a great one with a killer lineup featuring The Hold Steady, eclectic Louisville band Turbo Nut, and the incredible harmonies of The Watson Twins. The Watson Twins are from Louisville but have spent their adult lives and careers in Los Angeles, and now Nashville, where they have found a home and community that matches their rootsy, joyful, music. Their early success began with providing backup vocals for Jenny Lewis on her Rabbit Fur Coat album in 2006. They have also put out several solo albums since. Their latest is called Holler which is coming out June 23rd, right before their concert at this month's Waterfront Wednesday. I was able to catch up with Chandra and Leigh Watson to talk about the new album and find out a few of their hometown favorites.

It's been a while since you put out a new album but we're very excited to hear Holler
which comes out June 23rd. What have you been doing musically during the span between albums?
Yes, it’s been a minute… but I think we all lost a few years to the pandemic. We played a show at Shopbar in Louisville the night before the world shutdown. Our friend, Natasha, had asked us to come up and do an acoustic set and everyone thought we were nuts for leaving Nashville because the news of something very bad was looming. I remember we looked at each other and said “We gotta live it up before they lock it down”. We drove in and did the show March 13th , 2020… it was the perfect way to wrap up all the touring we had done on Duo in 2018/2019. Music always seems to find its way into our world, when we’re not doing our own material, we’re out singing back-up vocals which keeps us in the mix in a totally different way. We sang on a few records during that time too… Jessie Baylin, Jewel, Matt Nathanson & Butch Walker and played a handful of shows last year.

How did Holler come to be? I know you put out a single last year wit producer/musician Butch Walker. Did that inspire you to do a full album or had it been in the works for awhile?
In March of 2022 we were in the studio working on Butch’s album and mentioned to him we were wanting to record a new single for our first live show since the pandemic. Our song “Two Timin’” had been in the set for many years but we never actually recorded it. On tour, folks kept coming up asking which record “Two Timin’” was on, that got our wheels turning and it felt like the right track to release as a single. We wanted to record it live in the studio with our touring band and Butch suggested we do it at his place… stars aligned and 2 days later we were there with our Nashville band recording the song. That experience and reception of that track really was the match that lit the flame, we decided to write an entire record that had the same energy and sound. Three months later we were back in Butch’s studio with 9 more songs, recording in the same way… all of us live in the room.

There are two co-writes on the album with "The Palace" and "Know My Name" with Jacob Sooter and also, Brian Elmquist from The Lone Bellow. How did those come about?
We met Jacob through our longtime friend and collaborator, Jessie Baylin. We hadn’t seen Jacob in a few years, but he lives in the same neighborhood in East Nashville. we bumped into him at a local coffee shop, mentioned we were working on some new material, and he suggested we write together. Gotta love Nashville for that! The day before the session Jacob asked if his friend Brian could join, we had no idea it was Brian from the Lone Bellow until we got to the session. HA! No pressure! They are both very generous, funny, talented, lovely people and on that first day the four of us wrote “The Palace”. Brian reached out after that initial meeting and suggested we write again and that second time we wrote “My Name”. It was all extremely organic and easy, which is what you hope for, but it doesn’t always happen that way. We really love both of those tracks which is why we released “The Palace” as our first single.

You all have been gone from Louisville for a very long time now. What's it like for you when you come back to visit? Is your favorite restaurant still here or do you have a new favorite? Any new discoveries of things to do or places to see you've tried and liked?
It’s true, Louisville has changed so much since we lived there. We grew up in J-Town and I remember my mom telling us we were getting a Mexican restaurant in the neighborhood, and we were super excited… it was a Taco Bell. HA! The food scene has some amazing new places that we are learning about through our friends who live here, but there are the stalwarts that we will always love in Louisville. A few that come to mind that will always be go-to’s when we visit our hometown, Ramsi’s Café on the World, Vietnam Kitchen, Blue Dog Bakery, Twig & Leaf, and Impellizzeri’s Pizza (I wish we could get those breadsticks in Nashville!!).

Watch the official music video for the title track to their new album Holler below and listen to the song "Two-Timin'" that started it all. Catch The Watson Twins in concert for free at Waterfront Wednesday on June 28th!

Laura is the afternoon host from 3-6 pm weekdays. Email Laura at lshine@lpm.org

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