The Neighbourhood Watch
You may know them from aiding in the misery of your last breakup or as the only worthy companion for a midnight stroll under city lights, contemplating a looming existential crisis, but regardless of scene or sentiment, The Neighbourhood Watch is quintessential music for feeling.
The band, consisting of Tristan Surman (vocals), Tyler Moretti (keys), Wyeth Robertson (drums), and Ethan Surman (bass and lead guitar) is now flowing into its fourth year. After an EP, two albums, and a third on its way, they are a far cry from the one-and-done mentality of their first year.
After meeting in high school and forming less as a band and more of a support group for those learning their first instruments, the boys birthed a cohesive and intuitive sound that worked with their initially rudimentary skills. Though still in their infancy, the group was experimental in their approach to creating music. They sound tracked mundane schoolwork by adding moody chords to English assignments like, Hamlet, and then Tristan started writing his own take on Shakespearian verse to compliment the sound. This, no doubt, was an early nod to the complex lyricism that would come out of their wake.
The name, The Neighbourhood Watch, was conceived through the start of an odd, but proven tradition for the group: disagreement. The band name, their biggest hit, and a multitude of other small victories for the band were all because of one member’s genius and the others’ disapproval.
“It’s a reoccurring theme in our band’s history, that the rest of the band says a great idea is not a good idea. Then, we end up doing it and it ends up turning out for the best.” Tyler explains with a laugh.
When the opportunity came to record their first album, they walked into the studio empty handed, lacking expertise, and created their most popular work by improvisation.
“We learned how to play our instruments by making that album.” Tyler explains.
“I don’t think I wrote down one lyric for that first album.” Tristan adds, showing just how critical intuition was to that first body of work.
With each heading off to university in the fall of 2017, they thought the album would the culmination of the group, a physical denouement to their work. That was until the streams - first for ‘AA’, and then moving down the track list - started pouring in. When they were back together again in the city, they had to decide if they were willing to commit to taking the group to the next level. Thankfully, for fans of Community Protected, the decision was a second album.
With growing artistry on the part of each member, Goodbye Child was an elevation for the group in terms of complexity and sophistication. They kept their studio time as a means to explore and create in situ, so the music would keep its intuitive approach and emotion, but the instrumentals were levelled up and once the band was out of the studio, they worked for months on the back end, mastering the album, to create a crisp and professional second body of work.
Their third album will be a further elevation for the group and house their most diverse sounds yet.
“You’ll see more ambition and fun in this album.” Tristan comments.
As it was written and recorded over a span of just more than a year and a half, we can expect to see a variety of moods and diversity of spirit throughout new album. A more important indicator of the quality of this record is that the band could not seem to agree on any sentiments on the new work. If history has told us anything, we can expect that to be a very good sign.
(Credit: Jamie Brennan)
This week, The Neighbourhood Watch released its first 2021 single, ‘Focus Up’. For this piece they played with production and vocals layers to create more levity in their sound. This is a departure from past albums where songs relied on Tristan’s belting vocals to add passion to a chorus.
The band says of the song, “‘Focus Up’ was our natural first single. It’s easy to play and have fun with. We started every band practice with it because it gave us confidence and got us into the music.”
This single comes as a teaser to the coming record, Lost in Bloom, where, “the band pairs melody-driven song writing with ambitious arrangements to tell a story about abandoning arrogance, resenting the people we loved, and being scared of growing up.”
If ‘Focus Up’ is an indication of lighter new sounds, we are excited to add brighter and more playful skies to night walks and city lights. You can listen to ‘Focus Up’ on your streaming platform now or in the video below.