The Chocolate Watchband interview

October 2, 2012

The Chocolate Watchband interview

Hi guys! You know it’s a great honor for
me to have you on It’s Psychedelic Baby. Since we are mostly dedicated to
garage/psych music and to have you on our magazine and to share your stories
with our readers is a true pleasure.
You formed around 1965. Ned Torney and Mark
Loomis formed the band, but before that you two were in The Chaparrals. Tell us
about The Chaparrals (was anything released)?
David: Nothing to my knowledge.
Gary: Before I was in the band.
Mark: The Chaparrals were a surf band and Ned actually taught me how to play
rock and roll guitar.  We played as a
surf band for a while. But The
Chaparrals didn’t record anything. 
Ned Torney left to join The Topsiders.
Watchband’s lineup changed a few times before settling down. Please tell us how
did this lineup changes followed one after another?
Mark: Yes, we decided to form the Watchband. Dave was not our original singer, Danny Phay was, and Rich Young played
bass rather than Bill. Gary played drums
with us and we had a keyboard player, Joe Kemley. Ned was already an accomplished guitar player
by then.  Our first recording was “ Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” by Gerry and The Pacemakers and “Misty Lane:, but
our first single was “Sweet Young Thing” with Bob Dylan’s “Baby Blue.” Somehow it was released on Uptown Records, a
division of Hanna Barbera that handled mostly black bands. I think our name made them think we were a black
band. Due to this we ended up playing
gigs with many black entertainers like Jackie Wilson, The Coasters, among
others. It was really a wonderful
David: There were 4 maybe 5 bands using the
name “CWB” but only one that recorded, did movies and carried the
main torch fans follow today.
Gary: The way I remember it was that Rich
Young (bass) got drafted Ned got Tom Anton on bass and Tom brought in Ken
Mathews on drums so Mark left and kept the name got Bill Flores on bass, me on
drums Sean Tolby (David Phelps)  from the
Topsiders on guitar and David Augilar on vocals. Ned’s group became The
What can you tell me about ‘The Hogs’.
They released two singles, among them famous ‘Blue Theme’ cover? This was
somehow the rename of the band, to get attention from the public, who liked ‘biker’ flicks, that were very popular at the times, right?
Mark: We were recording our first album in Studio City. We were one of the first bands on the Hanna
Barbera label. Ed Cobb was our producer
along with Richie Podolar and  their
Green Garss production company. They
were handling us and The Standells. Cobb
insisted we go back into the studio and record “Blues Theme” and “Loose Lip
Sync Ship” using the name The Hogs to attract the biker crowd.

David: No. We were in the middle of
recording “Sweet Young Thing” at American Studios when Ed Cobb came
in around 5 one afternoon and said drop everything, we need to record this
song.  The name “Hogs” came
from Ritchie Podolar’s Harley that he rode up and down the street in front of
the studio with microphones hanging out the door. It took about an hour to cut
it and then we realized we needed a ‘B’ side. Sitting there talking about it.
Billy was diddling on his bass with a little riff
and then mark played a bit on top of it… Ed
jumped up and said just keep doing that…so Sean joined in, Gary played a few
drums. We jammed for 5-6 minutes and then Ed said: “Let’s just record
it”. So, “Loose Lips” started and I just stood at the microphone
and sang, said anything that came into my mind. I thought about the Kix Cereal
Rabbit – tagline “Kix are for kids – not silly rabbits (although Ed and
crew thought I said rabis). Our manager ron rupe stepped up and did the
“friends” bit and I sang row row your boat. Many folks thought Frank
Zappa was involved. In an odd way he was. Two weeks earlier we had played with
The Mothers at The Filmore as they introduced the world to “Suzie Cream
cheese”. Obviously, a bit of their craziness had rubbed off on us. That
song was us sending it back to The Mothers in a complimentary way.
Gary: Tower Records decided to do the song
as a possible sound track for a movie. I remember that the engineer Richie had
a hot Triumph motorcycle that he recorded in front of the studio for the intro.
Next thing and you were already in
these days cult movie called ‘Riot on Sunset Strip’, contributing two songs and
a performance.  How did you get to play
in the film and what are some memories from that?
Mark: Green Grass Productions set all these gigs up for us. Along with the gigs came two movies “Riot On
Sunset Strip” which also included The Standells and “Love-Ins.” The psychedelic music movement wasn’t in Los
Angeles yet at the time, but it was in San Francisco. “Sunset Strip” was about drugs and LSD and
everything and that’s how they came to want us. For the bar scene in “Riot” we did two songs, “Sitting There Standing”
that we wrote and “Don’t Need Your Lovin” 
The band hard a real Yardbirds like sound and we had a bar scene like
The Yardbirds from “Blow Up.” The
Yardbirds were the first we heard to use “fuzz tone” and I really liked that so
we bought imported records by them.  Our
sound was kind of a mixture of The Stones and The Yardbirds. The other movie “Love-Ins” was along the same
lines as “Riot” The movie soundtrack
was called “The Love In” without the s. As I said the psychedelic sound hadn’t really gotten to Los Angeles yet
so that’s why the movie producers were so interested in us because we came from
the San Francisco area where the sound had already arrived.  The producers were wanting to get the first
big hit movie of this sort and we were stoners from the Bay Area. The people in these movies weren’t even
stoned. They didn’t have marijuana or
even know about it. They were smoking
banana peels to get high if you can believe it. We got both of those movies because we were the real deal smoking pot
and stuff. We did the songs for “The
Love In” standing on top of a psychedelic bus!

David: Riot was fun. Love-ins not so much
although in my mind, Love-ins had better music. We were in the middle of
getting ready for an upcoming weekend show – practicing a few new songs, when
Ron suddenly appeared and told us to pack up. We were going to Hollywood to do
a movie. The gravity of it never sunk in at the time. It was a lark – cool!
OK-let’s do it! We knew nothing of what was required of us on the other end.
Ron apparently was clueless too. We were in the film because the Attarack
Productions company had worked with Sam Katzmn, B-movie mogul before. The
Standells were to be the featured band and we were the frosting. Sort of an oh
– let’s throw The Watchband in too. Let’s see if they can swim!
The experience was all new and, of course,
pretty exciting to all of us. For this adventure, we had women follow us from
the Bay Area and hang out at our hotel. No new conquests or love affairs
blossomed on the LA side on this adventure. At the director parties, we were
furniture hired help in the movie, the aspiring starlets paid very little
attention to us, so we raised hell. Mark dropped acid into the puch bowl. Yes
they really had one with an ice sculpture in the middle of it. Sean Billy and I
became artful observers. We banged out a kiler set in the garden and went home
to our faithful followers and made love till dawn.
Gary: Our manager, Ron Roupe and Ed Cobb,
our producer, put the whole thing together. One of the best memories is goofing
around on all the sets in the back lot. They had mock up’s of WWII, old Western
towns, NY city streets and a lot of cool stuff at MGM.
At that moment you got signed up by Tower
records. How did it happen?
David: It happened quietly between Ron and
Ray Harris. There was no build-up or anxious anticipation. And truthfully – who
cared? We were a new band. We were a “performing on stage” band. We
were learning about each other, improvising in real time on stage. We were
learning how to pace our shows, what order to pick the music, how to engage an
audience, how to seamlessly join two songs together even though we had
never  practiced doing it before. We were
learning how to dress – each member took pride in their personal style and  outdoing other band members. Sean went to LA
for his clothes. Mark and Billy went to Filmore district in SF for theirs. Mine
were hand sewn by a designer. When I wanted split cuff in front red corduroy
pants…they were made.  When I wanted
red white and blue striped pants…they were made.  We were a stage band just beginning to realize
our power. Recording in a studio was the antithesis of a stage performance. The
band recorded and tracked without you. There was very little spontaneity. So,
it was a new twist on things, but recording wasn’t at the top of our list at
the moment.
Gary: Our manager Ron put that together and
we just went along.
Mark: As Gary said, our manager put it together and we just went along with it.
There was also a very funny confusion
going on with being in the soul ‘department’ of the label and because your name
had a word ‘Chocolate’ in it.
Mark: As I said we were placed on Uptown Records which had mostly black acts
and we played with The Coasters, Jackie Wilson, and many others. They were great to work with. 
David: Maybe not so funny after all? This baffles
me to this day. Who fell asleep at attarack? When a band finished an album it
was then shopped around to a label who then categorized it and farmed it out to
a distributor. We were sent to Uptown Records because of our name. None of our
pictures were on the cover of the album. Universal Records thought we were a
black rhythm and blues band because of the 
– hold it – here comes the punch line – “Chocolate” in our
name…brilliant! Just brilliant! Our first uptown show was with Little
Anthony, The Coasters, Chuck Berry, and 20 other soul review bands. So, the
joke was on us. We had an album – Sweet Young Thing was being played locally –
but the albums were not available in San Jose – apparently you’d have to drive
to Oakland to find one.
Gary: We ended up getting booked with a lot
of R&B groups for some shows. The Supremes is one I remember.
Bill: We got booked into a soul review over
in Oakland because they thought we were black. We ended up backing up Chuck
Your first two singles were not in a
typical Watchband sound. I think the song “Are You Gonna Be There (At the
Love-In)” captures that typical sound. This is kind of a tribute to
Haight-Ashbury, isn’t it?
David: I’m not certain that’s true. We were
a rock and roll band. We stretched stuff out and jammed on stage. We had a
distinctive San Francisco sound to our instruments like The Airplane or Dead. Go
back and listen to Mark’s lead in “Sweet Young Thing”. He plays low
notes that slowly climb the scale with power and authority. There are no diddly
fast finger high notes to impress other guitar players out  there with your blazing fast fingers. Billy
and Gary pushed our songs between them with bass and drums. Sean helped the
flow with rhythm. Mark shot bazooka notes when it was right. The stuff we
played on stage had the same feeling. I’m not like everybody else and baby blue
were songs we brought to the recording session – those were the song we were
paying regularly every night…listen to the together and they all fit..that
was our sound….the ballads, however were different….you can’t dig a hole
deep enough to hold she weaves a tender trap…
Gary: I think that is what we were going
Mark: Our first single “Sweet Young Thing” then “Misty Lane” with “She Weaves
A Tender Trap.” I wrote both of those
songs and they were done with a real orchestra. I really like both songs from the second single. But these songs didn’t represent our sound
live. Ed Cobb decided which songs were
released and they were in L.A. and didn’t really know what we sounded like
live. “Are You Gonna Be There” fit our
live sound a lot more. It was
psychedelic whereas “She Weaves A Tender Trap: was what Cobb was into. Cobb didn’t know psychedelic music, the songs
he selected were a lot sweeter than we sounded live.
In 1967 you started recording your first
album, called ‘No Way Out’. What are some of the strongest memories from
producing and recording this album?
Mark: “No Way Out” was recorded at Studio City as well at Richie Podolar’s
studio. I don’t have a lot of memories
about recording the album. Since I live
in Hawaii I haven’t been keeping up with the history of the band as well and
have not been able to be involved in many of the reunion gigs and
recordings. In the early days we were
practically living together in the San Jose area. We had a cabin in the mountains. But my memory isn’t real clear.  The last gig I did with the guys was at Ned’s
funeral.   A lot of his friends got
together and we played at the wake.

David: Watching Ed and Richie track
fascinated me. Watching how a new song came together was an amazing experience.
It was during this first album I began writing songs. It just kicked something
on in my head. Recording was intense, creative and agonizingly boring. As a
singer you sat through everything before your chance came up to participate. In
fact, on the first album, the band left for Mexico to party and I stayed behind
to put on harp, tamb and vocals. It truly was that disjointed. Imagine if they
could have isolated me in a vocal booth and recorded in real time? Then the
listener could have felt the true stage power of this band…
Gary: I remember Ed Cobb the producer on
his hands and knees behind my drum set over dubbing my bass drum with a mallet.
I did a lot of background vocals and Richie our engineer helped me. He played
everything and was good at it. We also got yelled at for smoking in the echo
chamber. It was like a pool in there, kind of an 8′ X 8′ X 20′ with gunite on
the walls. It had a speaker on one end and a mic on the other end.
Bill: When we finished a 6 day recording
session.Sean and I went to Mexico..
What gear did you guys use?
David: First – we rivaled the great Wall of
China with monster 2 meter high Vox amps. The first to appear in the Bay area.
Everybody else was using Fender. What gear didn’t we use? We saw the
experimentation of the British bands with different instruments. We played with
bands who used instruments we wern’tthat familiar with. The Loving Spoonful
showed us an autoharp. We went out and bought one.
Billy had a Fender strat bass and a little
coffin box Hoefner like Mccartney. Mark pretty much stuck with his hollow body
blond Guild or his cherry colored Gibson es-330, but he did play sitar
too.  I went thru cases of harps, I
played maracas, tamb, claves, sleigh bells, dulcimer, piano, theramin, Gibson
acoustic and Mark’s guild…Sean? 
Unbelievable. For all you collectors out there who really know guitars
get a load of this and I know I’m leaving quite a few out. Sean changed guitars
like we change socks. He played: 1954 Butterscotch Telecaster, 1960 powder blue
Telecaster, 12 string blond Rick, 6 string flame colored Rick (1st year on the market)
, white teardrop Vox (the real deal) , 12-string Gibson acoustic, 6-string
Gibson acoustic, standard v05 Les Paul, late 50’s Gretch hollow body electric,
Fender white flying V, 59′ Fender music maker… Wouldn’t you love to have any of
these sitting around your house today?
Gary: Vox amps. I played Ludwig Drums.
Tim: A. Mainly Vox amps. Sean loved his
Gibson flying V and his Martin electric. Bill was playing a Gibson EBO bass and
I played a vintage Gibson gold top Les Paul. Sean and I used the Vox Tone
Bender quite a bit. David has always used Hohner Harmonicas. Gary is a big
Gretch Drum fan.
Bill: Our Amps of choice—VOX!
Mark: We had enough money that we could use whatever we wanted. We did an advertisement for Vox, so they took
us to the factory and gave us anything we wanted. So I used Vox guitars and amps. My amp was a little bigger than the one Jeff
Beck used with The Yardbirds. As far as
effects, I used fuzz tone and wah wah pedals. There weren’t a lot of effects pedals out yet then. I used to build my own fuzz tones. I actually had one fuzz tone that I actually
built into the guitar using schematics. Sean and I also bought matching 6 and 12 string Rickenbackers. I also had a Gibson Hummingbird guitar. I had Les Paul, Juniors and Gretsch
guitars. I have single and double pickup
Les Paul Juniors. I especially like the
double pickup models. 
What can you tell me about the cover
artwork and how many copies do you think were released?
Mark: In those days I didn’t pay much attention. And in those days our production company
didn’t promote us enough. Our singles
did well locally but didn’t hit the national charts because it was marketed
properly. The one thing I regret is that
we didn’t have a hit. Our production
company had us and The Standells, and they gave “Muddy Water” a lot more
promotion so they had a hit with it, but none of our songs were given that much
David: We had no input on the cover
artwork. We never saw an accounting forthe number of albums released, but we
did take a case of them and throw them into the air off Sean’s deck into Bear
Creek Canyon and took turns shooting at them with his grandfather’s double
barrel 12 guge shotgun…
Gary: Tower Records had total control of
the art and we didn’t see it till it came out. We didn’t like it much and used
the records for target practice.
Bill: As far as art work goes, we had no
I know, this can be a very difficult
question to answer, but since I’m asking all the bands I need to ask you too if
you could comment each song a bit.
Let’s Talk About Girls
David: The band never understood why Ed
Cobb didn’t use my vocal on it. It ruined it for all of us… 
Gary: David only got a chance to do his
reference vocal and we had to go out on tour so they replace his vocal with
studio singer Don Bennett. Not cool.     
Bill: Show closer.        
Mark: I never liked that tune. The
production company, Ed Cobb or one of the guys down there picked that one. The production company was trying to make us
something we weren’t.  We weren’t
interested in that sound. 
In the Midnight Hour
Mark: That was one of the songs we did because we liked Wilson Pickett. We kinda rocked that tune out. I had fun with that one. 
David: We did this on stage. It was a
filler song.    
Gary: I just remember cutting the basic
tracks really quick on it. Then we left for Mexico and left David to do the
Bill: Dance song.
Come On
Mark: I thought that one came out great too. The production company picked that one, but I liked it. 
David: We did this as a demo. It was the
first song we recorded. I liked the harp.
Gary: We just did what they asked us to
Bill: A rocker!
Dark Side of the Mushroom
Mark: That wasn’t even us. That was
some studio musicians you know. I kinda
lost interest in what we were doing because of the production company. I finally lost interest and left the band
because of things like this. 
David: We didn’t do this song.
Gary: It wasn’t the band. This was all
Richie the engineer.        
Bill: Filler song.        
Hot Dusty Roads
Mark: Another one I didn’t care for. Chosen by the production company.
Hated it! I sang it once and said: “What the hell. We’re not
Buffalo Springfield!”.
Gary: I think it was one of Ed’s
Bill: Filler song.                   
Are You Gonna Be There (At the Love-In) 
Mark: We put that together in the studio for the movie. Ed Cobb left us alone in the studio on this
one. It was a good movie soundtrack.
David: This was the Watchband at its best.
This song has power!
Gary: Trying to go for a SF sound.   
Bill: Was a great park song”large
Gone and Passes By
Mark: I don’t know what to say about that one. It’s alright, I kinda like it. 
That’s one of Dave’s songs.
David: I wrote this in the Sunset Orange
motel the 3rd day of recording. It was Watchband all the way.                   
Gary: We did a lot of these Bo Diddly kind
of beats.                
Bill: Blues.
No Way Out
Mark: I wrote all the music to it. Its
all my guitar on it. 
David: We recorded this spontaneously.
Billy had a riff and I just walked up to the microphone and sang the firt thing
that came to mind. The kids we’d seen living on the streets of the Filmore
during the summer of love.         
Gary: Billy and I just started jamming and
everyone jumped in. I think that David wrote the lyrics on a napkin while going
up and elevator.   
Bill: Bummer rock.              
Expo 2000 
Mark: We’re not on that one either. That’s Richie. He was a very
accomplished musician and the production company was rushing the album so they
had Richie record it to fill out the album.
David: Richie did this song. We didn’t hear
it till the albums arrived. We then immediately took the albums to the back
deck and you know the rest…                       
Gary: It wasn’t the band. This was all
Richie the engineer.
Bill: Warm up jam.                                   
Gossamer Wings
Mark: I can’t remember if I played some on that one or not. On our album the sitar is me. I went to a music shop next door to the
studio and picked up a sitar and tried to learn all I could real fast. So all the sitar parts on our albums is me playing.
David: Both barrels at this one!
Gary: It wasn’t the band. This was all
Richie the engineer. 
Bill: Warm up jam.               
Mark: (addition)” Loose Lip Sync Ship”: 
I had taken piano lessons and played a little. I played the harpsichord on that one. Also, “Baby Blue” has always been one of our
favorites but we didn’t do all the verses. We should’ve done them all. When Bob
Dylan writes a song you should do the whole song, but in those days you weren’t
even allowed 4 minute songs, a single was limited to 3 minutes or so. But I think we did a really good job on “Baby
Blue” and our fans really liked it.  
Was there any concept behind the album
or perhaps about the band itself?
Mark: No, not really. You see I’m the
one who fouled up the original band. I
left and you have to realize the band had to go on. I formed a folk rock band right after I left
the Watchband. The band was called The
Tinkle Bells. 
David: Interesting question. Everything at
this point in time was pretty much non-conceptual. Sgt. Pepper and Quadraphenia
got conceptual albums started, but we wern’t into that. And our look constantly
changed with no concepts behind it…
Gary: No concept, just a lot of jamming and
trial and error.
Bill: No concept. Just music.
There was some problems with the first
album and some members left…
Mark: It was later. I left the band and was replaced by Tim Abbott on
guitar. They played gigs but never
recorded anything.  
David: Nope, that was after the second
album came out. Here was our situaton. We were on top in the San Jose market.
No challenge there, we were making huge inroads in the San Francisco market.
Many thought we were a SF band, but our albums and songs were not being
promoted or distributed. We didn’teven have copies to sell at our shows. We had
no leadership from our manager – seems he just wanted to be part of the scene –
and Ed Cobb, who later was quoted saying how much he regretted not becoming involved
when the band disolved. So the frustration of these kluged together albums
really got to us. Two things were happening. I was learning how to write songs
for the Watchband. The natural next step would have been a full album of with
new originals. Every band from Beatles to Stones went through this
metamorphosis. It was now starting for us. The other destructive force was that
Mark and I never really clicked on a friendly – best buddy level. I believe he
really had second thoughts about asking me to join the band especially after he
started losing control of it. To many, he wasn’t the leader anymore. I thnk
that chafed him a bit. Secondly – he was into some stupid shit drugs that
turned him into a zombie and, his original taste in music went with it. He
wanted to do mellow – folksy – Hot Tuna rags 24/7. Meanwhile, I wanted to set
the stage and rafters on fire. Two very different clashing directions. After
the second album communications stopped between band members. We were all
pissed off and bumed by the Ed Cob friends albums that were coming out under
our name and the whole music scene was now tilting towards the “I’m never
going to be able to find my way home” drugs scene. I was told Mark was put
into a sanitarium for three weeks after they tried to do that 3rd
“mellow” Watchband album. Billy can confirm this better. I really
wasn’t there. I went back to school and left the whole enchilada behind me…
Gary: The group had a split after the
second album and the movies. Mark wanted to go another direction musically and
I followed him. We started a group called the Tingle Guild.
Tim: There was a split in the group in
early 1967, That’s when I came in to replace Mark Loomis on lead guitar. That
summer of 1967 was very busy and we did a lot of great concert dates.
Bill: Lead player got ill.
The Inner Mystique’ is your second LP.
Tell us the backgrounds of making this album. It’s not what you wanted if I
understand correctly from what I heard. But you have to admit, that the album
is absolutely amazing…
Mark: Again the production company had control and did what they wanted with
the album. A lot of it wasn’t even us

David: It was de ja vue all over again!
Miracle Worker, Baby blue, Not Like Everybody Else, Misty Lane, Sweet Young
Thing, that was The Chocolate Watchband. The rest of the songs,  Sean threw the album to the ground and pissed
on it. All of us joined in.
Gary: Several of the tracks were just jams
that the engineer and producer added tracks to.
Bill: CWB always amazed me.We just played.
Similar things go for ‘One Step Beyond’,
your third album that is in a more folky way.
Mark: You finally mentioned “One Step Beyond”. That was our first attempt to make an all original album. We wrote all those songs. We worked them out together. That’s my favorite album. We were trying to find our own style for the
record. That’s our first original
record. That’s the last album we
made. I think it turned out great. It’s my favorite album for sure. We all contributed songs. The only cover tune we did was “I Don’t Need
No Doctor” by Ray Charles. We wrote all
the songs over at my house.  We were all
prepared to record and there was nobody there to bother us.  At that point we were just experimenting with
what kind of sound we wanted and we had complete artistic control. It wasn’t our stage show songs. We did all cover tunes for our live
shows. We could play for hours and hours
but they weren’t our songs. If we had
more records it probably would’ve gotten better and better. Probably harder rock sounding. More bluesy. Everybody had their own favorite performers, like Gary loved Simon and
Garfunkel, I was writing kinda psychedelic rock and roll.  One Step Beyond became our last album
because I left the band. I was tired of
the production company telling us what to do. “One Step Beyond” was recorded at Sunset Studios in Los Angeles, not at
Richie’s studio. 

David: I can’t comment on it. The recording
session was a mess from the git go. Mark (whose nickname was now
“lumpy”) freaked out and disappeared from the studio. Billy can fill
you in on details. Sean now stepped up as the leader of the group. Gary wrote a
couple of nice songs, but that album is so disjointed. So many different genres
mixed together. “Loose Lip”, “Sitting There Standing”,
“Don’t Need Your Lovin Anymore” clashes with everything else on the
album. That album feels like a carton of eggs that randomly hit the floor. Or
put another way. The earlier Watchband was a rocket ship that could take you to
Mars. On the third album you had a kite to fly on nice days in gentle
Gary: I ended up writing a lot of the songs
because no one else seemed to want to. So I thought I would try. Also we
brought in Danny Phay to sing and he had a totally different sound than David,
which really changed the band.
Bill: One Step Beyond, different story – no
David.Good record, but I prefer David.
How about some concerts experiences.
Where all did you tour and perhaps what are some artists you performed with and
Mark: We played a High School Prom in Saratoga, California and they hired us
and Van Morrison from England. He was
over from England and playing any gig he could get.That was a fun gig. We played with Pink Floyd a couple of times
because they were being handled by Green Grass Productions as well. Pink Floyd was great, they were way out there
with Syd Barrett. They were nice
guys. We played the Fillmore in San
Francisco with The Mothers of Invention. That was fun. We opened for Lenny
Bruce, the comedian. We opened, then
Love played, followed by The Mothers of Invention and then Lenny Bruce. That was a union gig, and there had to be 6
players, so Bill Graham had to hire another person to be in our band. So this really fat guy showed up at the
Carpenter’s Union Hall with his tuba and sat in the back through the whole
gig. He never got on stage with us but
was there the whole night.  We were
booked to play with Captain Beefheart but he was sick that night so we played
alone. We played a really good gig with
The Knickerbockers and Buffalo Springfield. We played a gig with The Monkees that was really fun. We played a club that had a revolving stage,
the center of the stage revolved. On the
last song I walked to the solid part of the stage and was there playing my
guitar. When I got done I turned around
the stage had revolved, so the band was gone and I was standing out front
alone. We also played with Jimi Hendrix a couple of times.
Gary: My favorite shows were with Sly and
the Family Stone. They would follow us every night at the Winchester Cathedral,
a club in Redwood City that we played for weeks in 1966. Also playing with the
Yard Birds at the San Jose Civic.
Tim: We had some great live shows. we
played with the Doors at the Mt. Tam Fantasy Festival and the Oakland Coliseum.
Mobey Grape was another great show from 
the Oakland Coliseum. We are still friends with some of them. Jerry
Miller is the one that got me into the sitar and the Fender 59 Bassman (I still
use today) When we did the Mt. Tam Fantasy Festival the Fifth Dimension  asked me to play guitar for them, as theirs
didn’t make it. I said yes until I found out that they only had studio charts
and no chords written out. Their music is very complicated so I said no. But it
was cool to be asked. We also played with a lot of the San Francisco groups
like, The  Charlatans, Country Joe and the
Fish, The Count Five, The Son’s of Chaplin and many others.  
Bill: One of  my favs was when opened for Sly & the
Family Stone And Sly gave David his rad glasses.David sported them all nite.
Any crazy stories that happened to you
and would like to share with us?
Gary: We played the Queen Mary and we ended
up taking a huge model of the ship home with us after the gig.
Bill: The giant food fight that David
started in the back lot of MGM during the filming of “riot on sun set
Mark: See the question above. But I
have trouble remembering some details, so you can tell people you had an
interview with Mark, but he couldn’t remember anything! Ha ha! There have been so many interviews with me that there are some really
crazy stories about me floating around out there. 
I was reading a story about you the other day and it said
that you were allowed to play on all but one song, but were banned from
recording “Devil’s Motorcycle” due to the ingestion of controlled
How did you choose your name?
Ned was going to college and he and some friends went to the student
center and came up with it.  I was kinda
like the leader of the band so it had to go by me, but it was Ned who came up
with it. 
David: It was chosen before I joined the
group. Pot and acid may have been involved.
Gary: Ned came up with it up at the
Foothill lounge.
Tim: It is my understanding talking to Ned
and Mark and several other of the original band members,  were sitting in the student lounge of
Foothill College and were just throwing out band name ideas and someone said
Chocolate and some else said Watchband. They all said hey that’s it.
Bill: I was told it was LSD.
Do you have any regrets if you look
Mark: No, none. Back then it was kinda
like experimenting with music. Nobody
knew what direction to go in. I kinda
wish we’d had a bit more knowledge of what direction to go in, and we could
have stayed together a little longer. But things get complicated and that’s the way life goes. So no real regrets.
David: It was what it was. I’m sorry we
didn’t have a couple of hit records, but then again I have fantastic memories
of experiences I’ll never forget and being able to talk and still record new
songs with Billy, Gary, Timmy, Alec, Alby and now Daryl Hooper of the Seeds. I
am one happy rock and roller!
Gary: Nope! We had a great time while it
Tim: That we didn’t try harder to keep the
band together.  I left over money and I
wasn’t happy about us not working as hard on our music as I thought we should.
We weren’t writing and rehearsing that much, and that is something that I love
to do.
Bill: I think I would have eaten more fish.
How do you feel about the fact that
after all this years you still have a lot of fans?
Mark: I think the fans really love us. 
And the rest of the band is going places now I wish I were able to
go. You know, England and New York and
everything.  But living in Hawaii I can’t
do a lot of things with them. But the
guys in the band are all really good musicians and I hope everybody is
happy. I played on our reunion album and
we had a really really good time but trying to get together now is very
difficult. A lot of the other guys live
close together, but I’m here in Hawaii and I can’t get together with them on a
moments notice for gigs or recording sessions. I’ll go to gigs whenever possible, but living in Hawaii interferes
sometimes. Its not friction with other
members of the band, its logistics. I’m really happy for the guys in the band.
David: I know that no matter what happens
to this crazy, smacked angry, uninformed, misinformed scared world of ours
music and something I cherished at 19 still lives on with a life of its own!
And there are people out there who still get it! Thanks folks for sharing the
ride with us. The best may be still to come!
Gary: None of us had any idea that the band
would be remembered after all these years and archive the critical success that
we did.
Tim: None of us had any idea that the band
would be remembered after all these years and archive the critical success that
we did.
Bill: They are a lot younger today, but I
luv em all.
What currently occupies your life?
Mark: I my wonderful woman who I’ve been with for 30 years and we have a cabin
on the top of a mountain. I still play
music. I just moved to Maui about a
month ago after living on the big island. I don’t have any children, but my lady has a son who has 6 children, so
its like having 6 grandchildren.
David: I am an astronomer at the
Harvard-Smithsonain center for astrophysics in Cambridge, MA, I am an award
winning author and illustrator of kids books on astronomy for National
Geographic, I travel the world lecturing about science, I spearfish in New
England and Rhode Island Waters on weekends, and I still write and record music
with The Watchband and play live!
Gary: I’m a drummer with a band in Santa
Cruz called Extra Large and we play a lot of dates in my area. I own a
recording studio in Santa Cruz and mainly do projects with bands and singers.
Tim and I have worked quite a lot on the recent CWB recordings together.
Tim: I’m mainly a music producer and teach
guitar, voice and keyboard. My partners and I own a professional recording
studio in Santa Clara, CA called Kingdom Voice Productions. This is were most
of the recent Chocolate Watchband material has been recorded. We are currently
working on a new album, with a combination of some vintage cover songs and
originals in the the style of our 60’s sound. I also play and record quite a
bit with other groups.
Bill: Life.
Thank you all for taking your time.
Would you like to send a message to It’s Psychedelic Baby readers?
Mark: I
know the band is still going and if I have a chance I will be joining them and
playing whenever its possible. Its been
great talking with you and hopefully we’ll meet each other face to face some
day. Call me anytime. Its always fun to talk about. 
David: Here is my message: the best of
Watchband album is now out. All the songs for the new album “Judgement
Day” are written and half are recorded in the can with Daryl Hooper on
keyboards. Folks, pay attention – you haven’t heard anything like this album
It is the third album The Watchband would
have recorded had Mark been healthy and I’d been involved. It’s our 21st
century gift to you.
Gary: Thanks for all your support and hope
you like our new record.

Tim: Thanks for all the love, truly great
fans. Please check out our new record Revolutions Reinvented. They are all new
recordings of our fan favorites from the first two albums. These are the main
songs we do for our live shows. They have been recorded with the spirit and
sound of the originals, but with all the advantages of the great new recording
gear.  Also there are some bonus verses
and new extended endings that we do live that are included. Available on cd and
vinyl from 20 Stone Blatt Records, UK.

We are also working on, and have several
tracks recorded for a new album.
This will be retro style and will include
some of our favorite covers from the sixties. We will put the word out when
– Kevin Rathert & Klemen Breznikar
© Copyright http://www.psychedelicbabymag.com/2012
  1. Anonymous

    good interview!!!

    the cwb was the main inspiration for my band -the trip-stick like glue- battle of the garage bands...voxx records

    the clothes, the amps, the sound..

    still love'm


  2. Tracy

    I have a copy of Revolutions reinvented, truly awesome bit of vinyl. Ain't no miracle worker has had a special place in my heart for years & the recording on this is just stunning. Love this album very much indeed, the sound is perfect, black & white artwork of the cover a bonus inside the sleeve ( which is now framed on my wall) and recorded on nice blue vinyl too...possibly the best album I have ever bought. Great interview there! Cheers!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *