As they fiddled around, “I just remember kind of sitting in there — I was probably 10 or 11 years old — and just being blown away and amazed by what I was seeing,” the now-30-year-old Watson remembers; they were working on what would eventually be McKnight’s first album.
A Gadsden native, Watson, whose band performs Thursday at Brother’s in Jacksonville, grew up in the studio watching his uncle work with McKnight and write songs for artists, and after graduating from high school in 1998, decided to strike out on his own.
“(I) wanted to be an artist at some point — the writing kind of developed first,” he said.
He eventually began working with Universal Records in 2005 as a songwriter — an experience that has given him the ability to write songs from an objective point of view.
“I’ve just gotten so accustomed to writing for other people that I’ve developed the ability to just put myself in a situation,” he said of penning lyrics for the band’s songs, whether they range from love to late night post-relationship thoughts, as in his latest song, “Missed Call.”
“It’s less personal experience, more … how can I write a song that’s going to relate to someone, that they’ll take to heart,” he says.
As Watson’s work became more pop-based, he knew that he had an additional talent to pen songs for country music.
“I knew when it came time to be an artist, that’s where I always felt like country music was going to be the avenue to go down,” he said.
Watson began meeting with A&R representatives in Nashville in 2010 and performing a few of his songs on his guitar, but was generally met with the same reaction: “‘Do you have a band? Where are you playing at? I want to come hear you play.’ And my answer was no,” Watson said. Once it clicked that he needed a group of musicians for his songs to receive a fair listen, Watson began a search to put it all together.
“I was very picky about who I wanted to play with me,” he said. “I know a lot of people from the outside just think you call up a couple of guys and be like ‘Hey, let’s play together,’ but it’s a difficult process in itself.”
While he looked for members in several locations, including Atlanta and Tallahassee, where he lives with his wife and son, all of his members ended up coming from his hometown — a factor that is not all that surprising to him.
“Gadsden is just very talent-rich,” he said. “It was almost a nostalgic thing to go back home and find four other guys who are just really incredible musicians from the same hometown.”
The final product — a cross between Watson’s name and his birth month — solidified in January, and is now starting to make the rounds in the local venues. Their music already has an impact in the ever-present social networking community, where the band has done a lot of outreach on Reverbnation and other sites.
“We’re not big artists … just knowing that I’ve affected someone’s day — I’ve either helped them or helped them get over a situation or just to see someone that I don’t know, that I’m not even friends with on Facebook quoting my lyrics that I wrote — it’s a very cool feeling,” he said. “It’s really exploded, and it’s actually gone a lot faster than I really initially anticipated.”
While Watson’s eventual plan is to focus on the band exclusively and secure a recording contract, he understands that success doesn’t happen overnight.
“We’re in the door, we’re just taking the right steps,” he said of the band, which has begun working with a producer and is planning to record an EP soon. “We’re just trying to play as many shows and get as comfortable as we can with each other.”
No matter what comes of the band, though, Watson knows where his real support is — in his 3-year-old son.
“I’ll go pick him up from school when I’m at home and the first thing (he says) is ‘I wanna hear a Daddy song,’” he said. “I’ve always said even if nobody ever buys any of my records, having my son want to hear (my music) — that’s good enough for me.”
Where: Brother’s Bar, 206 Pelham Road S., Jacksonville
When: 10 p.m. Thursday, April 19
Cost: $5 for under 21, $3 for 21 and up
Follow the band on Twitter @augustashe, listen to their music at reverbnation.com/augustashe, and check them out on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/AugustAshe