Local music: Watershed

By Columbus Alive
From the May 31, 2012 edition

In his memoir, “Hitless Wonder: A Life In Minor League Rock and Roll,” Watershed singer-bassist Joe Oestreich ponders whether touring “mop bucket” bars well past 30 is noble.

Spoiler alert: Watershed is releasing a new album and hitting the road in conjunction with the book.

“By the time I got done writing the book, I was like, you know what? It is pretty cool, everything we’ve done,” Oestreich said. “It is pretty cool that we’re still fighting that battle.”

If Oestreich’s conclusion seems inevitable, his tale is entrancing. “Hitless Wonder” is essential for Columbus music fans, but its appeal is broader. With vivid wordplay and brutal honesty, Oestreich makes his world resonant.

It’s a world most people don’t know, considering how often strangers ask if Oestreich flies to gigs.

“Call it the VH1 ‘Behind the Music’-ization of America,” Oestreich said. “We have a better idea of what it’s like to be Jay-Z than what it’s like to be in a regular band.”

He’ll read from “Hitless Wonder” Wednesday at the Wex. Two days later, Watershed plays The Bluestone to celebrate “Brick and Mortar,” born from a 10-day sleeping-bags-in-the-studio marathon.

The record carries a book’s worth of subplots: the first Watershed album in six years; the first since Oestreich left Columbus to pursue academia; the first with Whiles frontman Joe Peppercorn in the band, a development that made Oestreich and bandmate Colin Gawel giddy.

It also features clutch drumming from Dave Masica, still reeling from two failed back surgeries and a spinal infection.

“If you would have told me two weeks before we started, would Dave Masica be dead or would he show up and play some of the best drums I’ve ever seen? I would have bet, if you had to pick one, he would have been dead,” Gawel said.

Instead, Masica charged on, just like Watershed.

“Now that I’ve described us as the band that will never quit, now we can never quit,” Oestreich said. “We’re totally screwed.”