Watershed may now be South Africa’s leading acoustic rock group, with a string of platinum and gold albums and awards to its name – but when its debut single ‘Indigo Girl’ surged up South Africa’s charts back in 2000, it was hard to predict just how successful the group would be.
At the time of the song’s release – on Watershed’s debut album ‘In The Meantime’ – the country hardly seemed a place to give real traction to a band who found their footing in the melodic notes and rhythms of acoustic rock.
Watershed’s debut was followed by ‘Wrapped In Stone’ in 2003, which earned the band its South African Music Award for Best Pop Album the following year – and confirmed its standing as a pop outfit capable of writing and performing material that easily stood shoulder-to-shoulder with anything emerging from the global music scene.
‘Mosaic’ arrived in 2005, and among its sonic gems was the hit song “Letters”, which held the top spot on Johannesburg regional hit station Highveld Stereo’s Top 40 chart for five weeks – an infrequent accomplishment for a South African act. It was no surprise then, when the album won the Best Pop Album award at the 2006 South African Music Awards and shifted in excess of 55 000 units. With a trio of acclaimed, top-selling and award-winning albums to their name, it seemed natural when Watershed began gaining traction in international waters, releasing and touring in Germany (where ‘Indigo Girl’ became a radio hit) and turning (alongside SA producer J.B. Arthur) to several international producers (Ali Thompson, Elliot Kennedy and Mark Hunter and Saul Davies from the British rock group James) for fourth studio release, ‘Staring At The Ceiling’.
At the centre of the songwriting stands Craig Hinds. Watershed’s singer and songwriter has an enviable and intuitive feel for a classic song – and, because of this, it’s no wonder he’s regarded as one of South Africa’s most accomplished and acclaimed songwriters. It’s a gift that Hinds often attributes to his family – initially starting in a covers band but soon “throwing in” his own compositions. And, as hit songs like “Shine On Me”, “Close My Eyes”, “Fine Way”, and the many others prove, the reaction to Hinds’ own material from those early audiences was instant and proved to be the spur the former teacher needed to plunge headlong into a music career.
From the start, Hinds was convinced he wanted to be part of a band and over the years, the Watershed line-up has shifted. The band has been based around the tight unit of Hinds (vocals, piano, acoustic guitar, harmonica), Gideon Botes (lead guitar, acoustic and mandolin) Howie Combrink (drums), and James Sunney (bass and vocals) – and their full live calendar is testament to the incredible live show mounted by Watershed which takes the melodic pop of the studio albums into breathtakingly beautiful, and often hard rocking, zones!
The sum of Hinds’ personal growth, the band’s multi-faceted career at home and the international experience it’s notched up in recent years touring Europe in particular has played into the music, with Hinds viewing the coming decade as a second journey for Watershed.
2011 and 2012 have seen the anticipated release of the new single ‘Water’, which is play listed on major radio stations across the country. A tour cleverly titled the “Laying New Tracks” tour introduced loyal fans to an array of new music which will appear on the band’s forthcoming album set for release during the course of the year.