Danny Greaves and Joey Serlin are half of the Watchmen and record as Serlin Greaves. Their debut record as a duo—written and recorded in Toronto during the pandemic—is called Sad Songs for Sale. It’s a rocker with tense ballads that won’t alienate Watchmen fans—the legion who’s supported their born-in-Winnipeg band through three gold and one platinum disc, plus a support tour with the Tragically Hip. Greaves, who owns Motel, a bar popular with musicians in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, spoke with kind before their August 12 show at the Horseshoe Tavern.
kind: When’s the last time you played live?
Daniel Greaves: St. Patrick’s Day last year, right before the first lockdown, March 6, 2020.
kind: Memorable gig?
DG: It was at a casino in Calgary and we were shaking hands indoors—exactly the place you wouldn’t want to be in a pandemic … but that was it.
kind: You’re a rocker and a bar owner.
DG: Decimated on both fronts by COVID-19.
DG: We had a super busy year planned in 2020, even by Watchmen standards, and it was obviously a really big blow, but I think had the pandemic not happened, we wouldn’t have made this record, and it’s something I’m really proud of.
kind: It’s great, dude.
DG: I’ve known Joey for 40 years, since we were in kindergarten, and this record was totally accidental, completely organic. He has a studio and I own a bar and I came in to put some rock ‘n’ roll on this thing he’d written and it was just a very organic process. It felt great to write and record.
kind: It’s cool that you’ve been in it for a while. You don’t have to impress anyone.
DG: I’m grateful that I don’t have to feed my kids this way. Like I said, my industries have been decimated, but I have my CBC hosting and my wife’s working and this was just an authentic thing.
kind: What do you mean?
DG: There wasn’t anyone saying: I don’t hear a single. None of that shit. It was free.
kind: How far back do you and Joey go?
DG: We used to practice in Joey’s basement when we were 17 and his parents would flick the lights off and on when we were too loud. The lights flicked on and off constantly.
kind: And this record kind of brought back those vibes?
DG: Like they say on The Bachelor, we were doing it for the right reasons.
kind: Which are?
DG: Recording meaningful songs with a buddy of mine that’s closer to me than any family member ever will be. The process was organic and, at the end of it, we had a dozen songs and just thought, let’s put this out: see what people think.
kind: It’s crazy you found an upside in the pandemic.
DG: I respect that the pandemic kicked the shit out of a lot of people and continues to do so, but I’m grateful. Without the pandemic and the whole world on pause, I don’t know if we’d have the time, desire or ability to do this.
kind: That’s cool, man.
DG: It’s a little piece of sunlight that managed to shine through.
kind: Talk about the vibe on the album.
DG: There’s a maturity to it that can only be achieved through 30 years of everything you go through. There are no bad moves in terms of the arc of artists, there’s no fast-tracking life, you have to live it. I don’t think Joey or I could’ve made this record at any other time except right now.
kind: It’s cool that there’s mellow stuff and rockers, yet the album, despite its title and when it was made, isn’t a bummer.
DG: I love the softer stuff. Joey writes about the important moments in his life and I’m singing songs he’s written and he’s playing my songs and it feels like we finish each other’s sentences, musically. You can’t plan to do it, it’s the result of the depth of our relationship.
kind: What about the rest of the guys in the band?
DG: It’s possible there will be another Watchmen record, but it takes 90 emails to get us together for a three-hour Cherry Beach session, so the ease in this process was nice.
kind: But the group is playing together later this month.
DG: We have an Edmonton festival, the Sheepdogs are wrapping that show up, and a Regina show the next day—20 and 21 of August. It’s exciting because we’re playing the festival then jumping on a plane three hours after getting off stage—right back into the heart of it and I’m excited about doing it.
kind: Sounds like you have a good vibe going, pandemic be damned.
DG: I’m doing music in a way I haven’t done in three decades, without any record company noise attached to it. This wasn’t what I was expecting, and I’m super proud of it. I wasn’t expecting to be this proud, but I’m grateful that people still give a shit and are looking at what we’re doing. The Watchmen has been my life’s work, I’ve been doing it for longer than I haven’t been doing it, and for me it’s a really big deal.
kind: Thanks for your time. Have fun out there and congratulations on the album.
DG: I’m trying to be as grateful as possible and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do.
For a live stream of Serlin Greaves at the Horseshoe, please click here. To purchase the record, click here.