HINDS' sights on even greater heights

2008-02-01 00:00

Craig Hinds, enigmatic frontman and songwriter for successful South African band Watershed, has been invited to write with Elliott Kennedy, one of the world's foremost hit writers and the man who has penned many of Brian Adams's songs.

Speaking after three sold-out performances at Durban's Barnyard last week, Hinds said he valued the experience in a more intimate venue - a performance the band hopes to repeat next year, but extending to five shows. This is not to say that Watershed are not up to playing to thousands. They played to 7 000-plus Durbanites in the Botanical Gardens last month, and will be back in Durban over Christmas. Dubai, London, Ireland and Scotland are on the itinerary for November.

Watershed's incredible successes - stretching from their unforgettable first single Indigo Girl to Letters and Live Another Day off their latest album Mosaic - probably have a lot to do with the invitation from Elliott Kennedy. For the quietly professional and refreshingly honest Hinds, the experience will be “amazing” and the perfect opportunity to sit down and relook at the band's new material.

“It is very good for me to get another brain involved. I'll learn something. When I wrote Indigo Girl I never saw myself doing this. Songs are weird things,” Hinds said.

Hinds is a self-taught musician and his haunting piano melodies and sensitive lyrics speak for many. “As a brand in itself, Indigo Girl is probably as strong as, if not stronger than, Watershed. One song can turn an album,” he shrugs.

He describes Indigo Girl as “a very simple song” - one of the first he wrote. It is probably of the ilk of Beatles and Brian Adams's hits, which often feature just three or four chords. Structurally, they are simple and “stamp themselves in your head,” he says.

He came up with a piano hook, a line that really worked and the rest is probably South African music legend. Yet, it was never earmarked as a single, was lucky to get onto their debut album In The Meantime and was eventually only included as the eighth track.

When their recording company EMI South Africa first released it, it was offered around Europe. There were no takers. However, a programmer from a German radio station heard the song on the radio when he was on a Cape beach, bought the album and took it home to Stuttgart. His listeners loved it and wanted it. The album ultimately reached platinum status.

Ironically, Hinds hadn't been into a recording studio before this album and he said this probably contributed to its simplicity and innocence. Technically and musically, subsequent albums have been far more complex.

Nevertheless, Watershed definitely has its own unique style.

“We haven't even been able to classify the Watershed sound. Now we are actually thinking of calling it piano rock,” he said.

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