Butch Walker "Summer of '89" Music Video:
As an in-demand music producer, Butch Walker has worked with just about everyone in the music business - from Avril Lavigne to Weezer. Far from a one-trick pony or even a two-trick platypus, the multi-talented musician is a celebrated artist in his own right. His latest album, "The Spade" finds he and his band (Butch Walker & The Black Widows) in familiar territory: an album full of sweet hooks and witty rhymes. He's currently touring in support of the album, and is gearing up for the release of his rock and roll memoir entitled "Drinking with Strangers: Music Lessons From a Teenage Bullet Belt." I caught up with the man of many job titles earlier this month for an insightful, humorous conversation about his music and music in general. As it turns out, Walker wasn't the inspiration for "Walker: Texas Ranger." Why? Because he's from Georgia and isn't Chuck Norris.
Anyway, read on.
You've been doing this a long time - do you enjoy giving interviews or does it sometimes feel redundant?
Well, I think the double-edged sword is that you sometimes feel like it's a touch laborious, but then if no one cared enough to talk to you, you would probably be a little bummed. It's like those famous people in those smut mags that people claim they don't read. They seem so bothered by paparazzi assholes taking their pictures, but I get the feeling that half of them would probably be calling their publicists if they started getting ignored. Actually, that example has nothing to do with interviews... What was the question?
Ha! Talk to me about the new record and how it perhaps differs from your previous efforts?
This one is more green. It has fewer carbon emissions, and the music is recyclable.... I think it is a little more peppy than the last few records because we decided to play the songs live in front of people before recording it. Then we recorded it live in the studio.. but not in front of friends at the studio. That would have been weird.
True. You've worked with such an eclectic mix of artists, producing records for everyone from Avril Lavigne to Weezer to Pete Yorn, does your approach change artist to artist or is it the same throughout?
Absolutely. [It's] gotta be different. I can't take the same approach to rock or indie music as I can to pop. But, I suppose there is a common flavor that ends up on the recordings that is in everything - whether it be a sound or an arrangement idea. I tend to just turn to chapter 4 of "Music Producing for Dummies"... you know the big yellow book series? It has all the answers...then I just lie, and tell the A n R people that I recorded everything myself and auto-tuned the vocals, so they will sleep better at night.
That makes sense. Do you tend to listen to music from all genres? I would think you'd have to - to work with all those you have...
Yes. I grew up a mutt of musical tastes. I had two older sisters that loved disco and funk records. My mom liked Barry Gibb, Barry White, Barry Manilow.. all the Barries. My dad liked 70's outlaw country, and my older friends liked metal. I was destined to be f--ked if I wanted to commit to one thing in particular. It helped me when I got into writing and producing other people's records because I could do all of it without research. It was in my veins already.
How difficult is the album naming process?
Hahaha. It sucks! You just feel like the kids today are looking for something so creative, provocative, or deep and record companies just want to something that sounds catchy and familiar. It's like writing the last song for the record in a way. I called the album "The Spade" through a process of elimination when wanting a playing-card theme on the record. "The Heart" sounded too whiny emo guy (plus, when I was a whiny emo guy, I had an EP called "Heartwork"... next...) "The Diamond" sounded too boastful - like a hip hop Jay-Z album or something. "The Club" sounded... well... like every song title on goddamn pop radio right now. If I told you the real reason why I called the new album "The Spade," I would have to kill you though...
Bummer. Hey, if you were a wrestler - what would your ring name be, and what would your finishing move be?
i would choose to be addressed as "The S.O.B." (my dad's nickname is Butch as well... think about it..) and my final move would be "the Butch-Slap," where I would merely slap my opponent in the face so many times that they would start bleeding. Then I would kiss their forehead and watch them fall backward. Knock Out...
I could see that. Do you look at your albums as your own children, and albums you produced as your friend's kids who you like a whole lot? Or do you love them the same.
That is funnier than any shit I have said today.
Lastly, if people came with taglines, what would yours be?
I hate tan lines - especially on men. I mean, really? You want to wear your pants a little low at the club at night to show off that you have a life of leisure and don't have to work for anything? Just sitting around tanning all damn day? That is lame and on a naked woman, it is the worst. It looks like a weird bathing suit with nipples and pubic hair (optional) painted on it.... oh wait... I just re-read the question...
"Butch Walker... when you absolutely positively need to have it overnight."