In Conversation With Butch Walker

BW.jpgIf there is one thing that can be said about the fans of Atlanta’s Butch Walker it’s that we are a dedicated bunch. Any fans of Walker will gladly preach to anybody who will listen about how brilliant and clever of a pop/power-pop songwriter Walker is.

His latest record Sycamore Meadows was released in November 2008 on independent label Original Signal Recordings, his first for the label after having recorded two criminally under-promoted records for Sony Music.

Walker is far from being a solitary man by striking out on his own to seek better fortune that what could be offered by a major label. This new path he ventured down led him to create the website www.therecordbusinessisfucked.com (which currently redirects visitors to Walker’s primary website) which according to many wouldn’t be all that far removed from the truth.

So does Walker truly believe the music business is that messed up?

“I mean it playfully but it is positively said as well. I think that the way bands and musicians are doing things now is more do-it-yourself then it’s ever been and I’m pretty excited about that,” he says. “The control is being taken away from people who really don’t know what they are doing or what to do with artists nowadays. And incidentally, the quality of music coming out is shooting through the roof; people are getting the opportunity to hear stuff that would have never had the chance to be heard otherwise. The kids finally have a choice of what they want to hear; they can seek it out for themselves and are taking that power back instead of being told what to listen to by some old dude in a suit.”

If there is one fact that becomes immediately clear in my conversation with Walker, not only is he extremely humble but he also makes it known that he is in this business for the long haul. Although he has yet to really strike gold as a musician, he has built a more than respectable name for himself as a producer. In the past five years, Walker has found much success producing artists as diverse as Katy Perry, Pink, Hot Hot Heat and Avril Lavigne.

This success in producing artists no doubt helps Walker pay the bills and allows him the opportunity to pursue his own musical career in his free time. Walker has experienced a degree of success as a musician; his previous band Marvelous 3 had a minor hit with their 1998 song “Freak Of The Week” however while speaking to Walker, it becomes evident that he is striving for longevity rather than just 15 minutes of fame:

“When you look at bands like The Flaming Lips or Radiohead, bands that haven’t had a ‘hit’ on radio and video for quite some time but continue to build their fan base regardless, that’s what I am hoping to achieve,” he admits. “I think I’m in a good position but nowhere near as popular as either of those bands. I am very satisfied with the dedicated fans I have; I take a lot of comfort knowing I will have fans out at my shows at almost any city I visit.”

Walker’s profile as a musician is indeed continuing to rise. This past February, he made his national TV debut on the Ellen DeGeneres show, performing his latest single “Here Comes The”¦” with his good pal Pink. Walker says that he doesn’t know of anybody who would dare turn down such a huge opportunity for exposure and remarked that the inevitable sales bump that happened the week after his appearance was a nice little perk as well.

The past few years haven’t been a complete walk in the park for Walker though. In November of 2007, wildfires in the State of California destroyed Walker’s home (which was located on Sycamore Meadows), taking with it his possessions, years of memorabilia and master recordings that cannot be replaced. But even in the face of this adversity, Walker hasn’t let his previous misfortune drive him away from the state:

“I’m still out at the beach in California,” Walker confirms. “It is so peaceful, I love it. I live in the country in a shack with a bunch of surfer guys who don’t ask me too many questions about my day job. Plus there is a recording studio in Santa Monica which I just took over and am really excited about the opportunity to make more music.”

Walker is slated to perform some West Coast US dates and will soon after be heading to Japan and Australia where Sycamore Meadows will soon be released. And apparently, he plans to put his newly purchased studio to good use as well.

“I’m going to start making a new record at the start of June and am hoping to have it completed and released for the big American tour that we will likely undertake in the fall,” Walker says.

“Lucky for me, I’m not too in demand at the moment so I can work on my own schedule.”

Hopefully Walker’s good luck in producing successful songs starts to shift over to his own music career before long. He is really one of this decade’s best kept pop musical treasures that will leave you wondering why he isn’t a huge rock star by now.

Sycamore Meadows is in stores now and is also available online at most major retailers like Amazon.com and iTunes.

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