Bradley Glenn Walker... one hell of a good name and it belongs to a damn good guy. Out there in the pretentious, "I'm better than you" world of Los Angeles, there is a kid from Georgia doing what he loves and making it work. Names like Peter Yorn, Pink, The Donnas, Hot Hot Heat, and Katy Perry are often circulated amongst anyone that knows anything about music, but rarely do we get to address them as our "co-workers". He's been in numerous bands, worked with numerous artists, and overcome large personal tragedy. All which make for a great interview. Butch Walker shoots us straight regarding his life in music, who should be on your iPod, and smoking a pipe.
BJ - When looking back, what best explains your membership in so many bands over the years, only to be a "solo artist" now? Was it recurring "creative differences" or was it a natural evolution of your musical preferences and career?
Butch -I think you just answered the question for yourself and me. It's not personal differences, per se, as much as it is evolving and being influenced by things that others may not be. Honestly, the most important band I was in was the Marvelous 3, and we just broke up because we loved each other as friends and didn't want a messy record label contract to make us broke, miserable and held hostage, so they couldn't keep us held up in limbo as individuals. My role was always to be the den mother, albeit a stuffy, shitty one early in my career. Now I feel like I am just a good old-fashioned controlling dictator asshole... Kidding.
The Weight of HerButch Walker
“I love where music is and don't think we are heading for anything but a better place...
This only pertains to rock music. ”
BJ - In working with such a wide variety of music, would you say that any particular genre defines you? If so which one? If not, why not? Does a definition place restrictions on what you can do with music?
Butch -The second question answers the first one. I don't like genre, and I don't feel like I fit one thing. Why would you fucking want to? That just means you aren't good enough to do other things and explore other territory. I think Dylan would have laughed if someone asked him in 1965, "Do you consider this new plugged-in, electric guitar Dylan to be a post-folk grindcore or post-woodie guthrie-pre-I'm gonna play with Tom Petty's band on tour-then morph into a Tom Waits style vocal character-christian Dylan?
BJ - You've collaborated and worked with tons of artists. How do you determine whether or not to work with someone in particular? Is it as simple as someone requesting your help or is there a common theme in your long list of wide ranging projects?
Butch -I don't do about 3/4 of the things pitched to me. I just don't think I want to be in the studio that much and I don't need the money to be happy. I just want to make music to make people happy and give me some sort of a challenge or kick out of it. Some of it is interesting and some of it is just a riot of entertainment in all possible ways.
BJ -Coming from your perspective of both being on stage and sitting at the sound boards for other artists, give an example of what is "right" about music these days and what is "wrong" or where we've gone astray.
Butch -This is a discussion that makes me sick to talk about, only to read it back later and see how bitter I sound. I love where music is and don't think we are heading for anything but a better place.
This only pertains to rock music.
All other popular genres are in the shitter in my mind. Contemporary Hip-Hop is retarded and only fun to listen to if you are on cocaine. Modern country sounds as bad as 80's cock rock did (I know, I was in one of those bands back then), so it is safe to say, modern and popular music has gotten safer and more generic due to the masses not caring about anything but sounds. As long as the track sounds like the inside of a casino in Vegas, with a robot singing about getting fucked or fucked over, people are fine with it. And hipsters just put up a front by ironically liking this. They don't really.
And the problem with the other side of the spectrum is that no one gets behind an artist anymore that is new for more than 30 minutes. It's all about what you can discover first, pass it on to the masses, and then say you don't care about them anymore. I thought the 2nd records of a lot of buzzworthy new artists were good, but people were "so over it" by then.
BJ - A California blaze that claimed your possessions was widely publicized nearly two years ago. Given the fact that your collective music "life" went with it, is that something you’ve been able to get over or does it still stay with you? Butch - If this question breaches a comfort level, please feel free to pass on it.
Butch -It's all good. i get bummed about losing certain things but the thing I lost the most, was before the fire... my heart. i had no passion for music or work anymore. then when everything got taken away, i was back to square one and didn't know if i should just go into somethiing different for work because i had money, success and no pride anymore. I will never take what i have for granted again. i am no Brian Eno, but i feel like i am pretty good at what all i can do.
BJ - Have you been faced with challenges of that magnitude before and if so, what role does music play during those times?
Butch - I was in writer's block hell before the fires. Now I am pretty fluent again. I think listening to a lot of new music got me inspired again.
BJ -What artist should we be listening to right now but probably don't know about?
Butch -Shovels And Rope, Cary Ann Hearst, The Films, Theresa Andersson, Prince. That last guy, I think I have discovered greatness... I just hope no one else has heard of him before me or I will have to find someone else that I think is better... he loves purple too! My favorite color!
BJ -Lastly, member of multiple bands, producer for a variety of artists... what's up next on the agenda? Are you a long term planning type of guy or is it just the next thing that catches your eye?
Butch -Working with Dashboard Confessional, Weezer, NeverShoutNever, and another record for myself with my band. I try to keep my shit clear so I can hang out with my son, and maybe buy a little boat and put it on a lake somewhere. I want to wear one of those silly captain's hats and smoke a pipe. That is all I ever planned far ahead for... since I was 12 yrs old.
Gigbot Downlow’ds bring you better-than-backstage access to touring musicians that you can get behind. Knowledgeable interviews, exclusive photos, free tickets, and musical tracks are brought to your browser by Gigbot’s team of music-loving mechanics to help you catch some the great talent that comes to your neighborhood.
Know the shows - and who is gonna go, with Gigbot. It’s about the best thing that has happened to live music since the whammy bar. See More Downlowd’s →