Hodinkee recently conducted an interview with former ANTHRAX guitarist Dan Spitz. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Hodinkee: You suddenly lost interest in playing guitar in 1995, ripped the stereo equipment from your cars and house, and gave all your guitars to Hard Rock Café. Why the sudden lost of interest in music and how sudden was your awakening to the call of watchmaking?
Dan Spitz: It was kind of a long process. I had been living on a tour bus since I was 14 years old and played in bands with others of equal skill set, but they were much older than I was as a young musician. I excelled at what I was doing… and ANTHRAX soon hit and was playing sold-out coliseums for years. By the time ’95 rolled around, I was the first one in the band to have children and I missed then while I was on the road. We would do an album and tour for years at a time, and then start the cycle over again — time at home was not there. It’s a story you see everywhere: it became mundane and more like a job. I needed a break. It’s easy to go on stage and play… that’s the anger, the love, the connection with my fans, who are like family. The fans are actually in the band, on stage, slam-dancing. But when it was time to write new music, this came from within, and you need to have an extreme love for it. At the end of the day, I just needed a break. I have extreme OCD, I do things either full-on or full-off, and I like to do things that others have not done before. I need that drive and that ambition. That’s why I decided to commit to learning the higher levels of watchmaking beyond what I did as a kid.
Hodinkee: Please share the story how you were introduced to the world of fine mechanical watches?
Dan Spitz: My Pop-Pop (what I called my grandfather Eddie Spitz) owned one of the largest antique jewelry stores in the Catskills that sold extremely high-end antique jewelry and watches. My grandfather was simply the greatest guy ever and a jeweler and a watchmaker from an early age. At 8 years old I was sitting with him and we were taking apart Patek Philippe watches. That started early on in my life, and both Patek and Vacheron Constantin (now my favorite) were always part of my life. I had the opportunity to go to my grandfather’s store and rip things apart that I really shouldn’t have been inside. My mechanical abilities started at a really young age.
Hodinkee: You broke a 53-year-old record in completing the watchmaker’s course at the Bulova school. Can you tell us more about that?
Dan Spitz: My mechanical ability comes from my non-traditional background. My room looked like a small NASA station growing up — tons of stuff. I was always building and taking stuff apart my whole life. I am a problem solver as far as mechanical and electronic things go… a self-taught problem solver. That comes into play in a large role in watchmaking. When I arrived at Bulova school, I had a background in problem solving that ensured my success. Soon after Bulova, I got a notice from WOSTEP, back when the only place to do the program was in Neuchâtel, and I won a scholarship to go there and continue my focus on complications.
Hodinkee: ANTHRAX broke all the rules of music. Has your work in the watchmaking world broken any tradition rules?
Dan Spitz: I don’t give a crap. I’m not in this industry for a job. With modern watches, anything that is mechanical is not going to be perfect and a watchmaker’s responsibility is to report it back to the manufacture. I have no boss and could care less. If you ask me a question, you are going to get a direct answer. When it comes to a watch’s quality, the truth is that the movement sucks ass or the movement kicks ass. With me, you are going to get the heavy metal answer from the heavy metal dude. I need to be truthful and honest, and that’s the way it should be.
Read the entire interview from Hodinkee.