Butch Walker’s career has spanned 4 decades and despite his low key demeanor, he has been instrumental in writing some of the biggest pop hits in the world
He was in a band called SouthGang that was signed then let go by Virgin Records in the early 90’s, he’s produced and co-wrote some of the biggest songs for some of the biggest artists in the world including Pink, Taylor Swift, Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco and Keith Urban just to name a few. His old house in Malibu that he was renting from Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers burned to the ground in 2007 along with all of the masters he ever recorded after a wildfire swept through the hillside.
He’s had a documentary titled Out of Focus made about his life, yet he’s not a household name. Butch Walker has experienced the high’s and lows of the music industry and life, he has battled dyslexia and his own demons and has come out unscathed. Despite his accolades, at his core he’s just a country boy from Georgia who embodies everything that is right about rock n’ roll.
His latest album, Stay Gold best represents the man behind the music. There’s no pretentious hooks or melodies, sound effects or over produced formulas competing for play time on a high school girl’s playlist. Stay Gold is stripped down, guitar driven, rock n’ roll. It’s meant to be listened to on vinyl with a cold IPA in your hand, front row at The Great American Music Hall or played loudly while driving down Pacific Coast Highway with the wind in your hair. Songs like “East Coast Girl” embrace the introspective and story telling narratives common in many of Walker’s songs. The dystopian boulevard of broken dreams undertone of this song is anchored by guitar solos, doo wop harmonies, snare drums and a tongue in cheek jab at melancholy politics.
Fast forward to “Record Store,” and Walker’s songwriting genius continues to reveal itself. Great songs evoke emotions. Soft acoustic chords blend with thoughts of yesteryear and first loves. Other tracks like “Mexican Coke” are upbeat, instant head bobbers and toe tappers. Throw in some brass, keys, and a great hook and you will find yourself singing along with this song while you attempt to breakout your best two-step.
Described as “a one man hurricane” on stage (which I can attest to after catching his last tour date in San Francisco), Butch Walker stays true to himself. Tattoos, leather jackets, motor cycles, a gold tooth smile and a guitar at his side, this unsung musician will undoubtedly write more Top 40 hits that you’re unaware he produced or co-wrote. All the while he will be burning up a stage somewhere in Nashville, SF, LA, or NY.
Stay gold Pony Boy, stay gold.