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“Another adventure. This is the story of the watchmaker, the guy who is meticulous about his craft, but he never has any kind of emotional outburst, nor does he express violence or any extreme emotions whatsoever.
“It’s the idea of a couple who have been together for 50 years or more, purely because it was convenient and comfortable. There’s a line that says something like ‘You were just meant to be temporary while I waited for gold.’ So it’s the idea that they got together almost because they didn’t want to be in a situation where they weren’t dating somebody, and they’ve ended up together for 50 years, even though there was never a strong feeling of love between them.
“If you allow yourself, life can pass you by. Time is tick, tick, ticking away. If you’re not careful, you can find that your whole life has gone by, with this idea of ‘Maybe I’ll do this one day...’ It’s a very sad sentiment of regret, of what should have been and what could have been. Sometimes that feeling of comfort can be a real drug.
“The watchmaker ends up killing his wife and burying her under the floorboards of his workshop. But, of course, she comes back, because she’s been with him for 50 years; she’s not going to leave him now. So again, it’s the idea of death not making any difference in a situation. You can kill me, chop me up, bury me, but I’m still not leaving.
“At the very end, it’s very dark, and the wife comes back to take him with her, which is another classic ghost story, in a way.
“Musically, the beginning section is very much inspired by the way Genesis used acoustic guitars early in their career. I was never a big fan of Genesis; I never listened to them as a kid. But I’ve started listening to them more recently because I’m good friends with Steve Hackett. One thing I love about their early records is the chiming quality of the 12-string acoustic guitars. That became the inspiration for starting off The Watchmaker.
“I like the idea of intertwining harmony vocals, two or three lines that work in a counterpunctual way. It’s something I learned from guys like Brian Wilson but also Crosby, Stills & Nash and Todd Rundgren – anyone who has fabulous, multi-part harmonies.
“We got some great bass sounds on the album, thanks to Alan. There’s kind of a bass solo on this song, but it’s one that I wrote out and planned meticulously. In the past, there haven’t been a lot of opportunities for me to explore that. In my solo work, however, I’ve backed off heavy guitar stuff, which has opened up all of this space for things like keyboards and woodwinds but also this big, upfront lead bass sound. Think Geddy Lee or Chris Squire of John Entwistle.”