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Interview:
Butch Walker Goes Out With His Tonites
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

Butch Walker finds himself saying “no” a lot these days.

The demand is understandable. The Atlanta musician’s production credits include Avril Lavigne, Pink, Simple Plan, the Donnas and Bowling For Soup, among others. He’s recently worked with Hot Hot Heat and The Academy Is ..., as well as doing portions of Lavigne’s next record.

And he’s charged with producing the debut album by Supernova, the hard rock all-star group that’s auditioning singers on the CBS reality show “Rock Star.”

So Walker’s become one of music’s go-to guys. But, he says, there’s another part of his career he likes to go to, too.

“I’m an artist,” explains Walker, 36, who was born in Rome, Ga., and, according to Lavigne, “knows how to get the most out of the song ’cause he’s written so many himself.”

But, Walker adds, “I tour. I play music. I don’t produce all the time. That’s not what I want to do. That’s not my life. It’s a day gig.

“There’s Butch Walker the day job and Butch Walker the artist. I defi nitely have a good time doing both. I make a really good living producing and having a chance to work with some really fun people, and now I enjoy getting out and touring more than I ever have in the past.”

These days, Walker is doing that with the Let’s Go Out Tonites, a band he formed to record “The Rise & Fall of Butch Walker and the Let’s Go Out Tonites,” his third solo album since disbanding Marvelous 3, the Atlanta band best known for its 1998 hit “Freak of the Weak.” It’s the hardest rocking of Walker’s own albums, which he says has something to do with the recent successes he’s achieved.

“It’s just a collection of songs that are a little bit reflective of the year I had last year, which was really kick-ass with Avril and everything,” he says. “I spent a lot of time last year traveling and making a lot of new friends. I wanted people to feel those experiences in the songs, some of the crazy people I hung out with, a lot of crazy girls and stuff like that.

“It’s impossible not to write about it. I just couldn’t write another record full of breakup songs; I did that five years ago. This time I wanted something people could play on the way to the bar as opposed to going to sleep to on the way home.”

The Let’s Go Out Tonites are an outgrowth of the group Walker took on the road to promote his 2004 album “Letters.”

“The band became more of a fullfledged entity,” Walker says, “and I took them into the studio with me with nothing but some lyrics, and they helped pound everything out with me.

“It was a very collaborative process; that’s why it has its own sound compared to my other records. So (the band) deserved a title. I couldn’t hog the ball.” And with seven other members in the band, Walker has plenty of folks to toss things around with. “I wanted a bigger band,” he explains. “I’ve got a couple of background singers and they rock. They pull off all these crazy vocals and scream like nuts. “It’s a big party, and I wanted it that way. I wanted these rock songs to be dynamic and explosive and fun, and with this band they are.”

Walker is juggling the Let’s Go Out Tonites with Super nova and “Rock Star.” He and Supernova’s musicians — Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee, former Metallica bassist and Michigan native Jason Newsted and former Guns ’N Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke — already have recorded the music for the album; now they’re just waiting for the “Rock Star” vocalist audition process to run its course before working on melodies and lyrics.

“I know its seems like it’s a train wreck, a band that has no singer till the end of the record,” Walker says with a laugh. “But I’m up for any challenge, and that one seems like a tall order.

“Sometimes producing records can get mundane, and you don’t want it to be just the same old crap. This seems like an interesting challenge. And being that I was a teenage metalhead and met my fi rst band members at a Mötley Crüe concert, I felt like it was serendipitous that (Lee) asked me to work with him. So bring it on, man ...”



Butch Walker & the Lets Go Out Tonites. As Fast As and Boys Like Girls perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday (August 1st) at St. Andrews Hall, 432 E. Congress, Detroit. Tickets are $15. Call (313) 961-6358 or visit

Web Site: www.livenation.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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