Watchtower is an American progressive/technical thrash metal band based in Austin, Texas. Influenced by late 70's progressive rock and acts such as Rush and UK as well as the burgeoning New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the band inadvertently became pioneers of a whole new sub-genre and are commonly acknowledged as the inventors of technical metal. While Watchtower never reached mainstream access, they have been cited as an influence by many other progressive and technical metal bands such as Dream Theater, Death, Atheist, Sieges Even, and Spiral Architect. Metallica's Lars Ulrich was photographed wearing a Watchtower shirt ca. ...And Justice for All in 1988.
Watchtower was formed in May 1982 in Austin, Texas. The quartet made its recording debut in 1983 with an early version of the song 'Meltdown' which was included on the Cottage Cheese From the Lips of Death - A Texas Hardcore Compilation LP. It was followed by the debut album, Energetic Disassembly, issued in 1985 on the band's own DIY label, Zombo Records. An earlier version of the album was scrapped after the group's label, Rainforest Records, closed its doors. Energetic Disassembly is notable for its heavy use of time changes and is considered to be a landmark in technical metal.
In the fall of 1986, guitarist and founding member, Billy White, quit the band in order to pursue different styles of music. He formed the short-lived Khymera with Juggernaut drummer Bobby Jarzombek and former Karion bassist Pete Perez before joining vocalist Don Dokken for the Up From The Ashes album in 1990. With Watchtower's future briefly in doubt, Doug Keyser auditioned for Metallica following the death of bassist Cliff Burton. Similarly, Jason McMaster was approached by fellow Texans Pantera in search of a new vocalist. McMaster eventually exited in 1988 after getting signed to a major label deal with his side project Onyxx, later renamed Dangerous Toys, whose self-titled CBS debut scored the MTV hits Teas N' Pleas N and Scared and reached near gold status.
White's replacement was Ron Jarzombek, formerly with S.A.Slayer, while fellow Austinite Mike Soliz (ex-Militia, Assalant) was recruited in place of McMaster but eventually replaced by former Hades vocalist Alan Tecchio. Newly signed to Noise Records, Watchtower flew to Berlin, Germany in the summer of 1989 where the band recorded their sophomore album, Control and Resistance, at Sky Trak Studios.
In the spring of 1990, Watchtower undertook their first and only European tour with Noise Records label mates, Coroner. Back in the States, the band played a few East Coast shows but lost vocalist Alan Tecchio soon thereafter. The search for a suitable replacement proved difficult although several candidates, including Scott Jeffries (Confessor), were at least considered. Adding to the band's woes, guitarist Ron Jarzombek developed severe hand problems which required multiple surgeries effectively putting Watchtower on ice indefinitely and with it a proposed third album, which was to be titled Mathematics.
Bassist Doug Keyser and drummer Rick Colaluca joined colorful local rock/funk/rap outfit Retarded Elf who released the album Trick Quigger on Pony Canyon in Japan. Guitarist Ron Jarzombek returned with Spastic Ink, akin to an all-instrumental version of Watchtower, who issued their debut album, Ink Complete in 1997, while original frontman Jason McMaster's kept going with Dangerous Toys before making Broken Teeth his main band in the late '90's.
In 1999 original Watchtower members McMaster, Keyser and Colaluca reunited, along with Jarzombek, to record a cover of Accept's 'Run If You Can' for A Tribute to Accept - Vol. 1 on Nuclear Blast Records. In 2000, Watchtower played the prestigious Bang Your Head!!! festival in Germany and later that summer supported Dream Theater in Houston and Dallas. The band also began work on the long dormant Mathematics album but progress stalled once again.
In 2002, Monster Records issued Demonstrations In Chaos, an archives release consisting of early recordings, demos, and unreleased tracks, including almost the complete original Energetic Disassembly recordings and the 1987 demos with Ron Jarzombek that got the band signed to Noise Records.
Watchtower returned to Europe once more in 2004 to headline the Headway Festival in Amstelveen, Holland. That same year Ron Jarzombek released the second Spastic Ink album, Ink Compatible, with guest contributions by Watchtower band mates Doug Keyser and Jason McMaster who contributed lead vocals to five songs. In the fall of 2004, Monster Records, now Monster Underground, re-issued 'Energetic Disassembly' on CD for the first time ever in the United States. The original CD re-issue came 1993 courtesy of Germany's Institute of Art label.
In the spring of 2009, Watchtower were confirmed as co-headliners of the 13th edition of Germany's Keep It True Festival, set to take place in April 2010. The band also re-commenced work on 'Mathematics' with a view toward a 2010 release.
Jason McMaster - vocals (1982-1988, 1999-present)
Ron Jarzombek - guitar (1986-1991, 1999-present)
Doug Keyser - bass (1982-1991, 1999-present)
Rick Colaluca - drums (1982-1991, 1999-present)
Alan Tecchio - vocals (1989-1990)
Mike Soliz - vocals (1988-1989)
Billy White - guitars (1982-1986)