Most of you may not be familiar with Butch Walker, and that’s a shame. Yet, it is also understandable. He’s never had a huge radio hit that would push him into the category of one hit wonder. He’s never had an album that was over commercialized and everyone knew. He’s never had negative press that would help push his name into houses of every music fan. Butch Walker is just a regular guy working to pay bills and support his family. The only difference is that his work is music.
These days, Butch Walker may be more known for the bands he has produced (Fall Out Boy, Pink) than for his own music, but make no mistake, Walker is still a musician first. The documentary that I recently watched, Butch Walker: Out Of Focus, discusses that and so much more as it provides a private interior view of a hard rock musician balancing family life, reaching middle age, and still pushing forward his artistic creativity.
Out Of Focus is not just a typical documentary on a rock musician. This poignant look inside one man’s life also has deep insight into father’s relationships with sons, balancing artistic creativity with family needs, and understanding how truly supportive a partner needs to be in order for a marriage to a rock musician to work. Some of the best moments captured on the screen were interviews with Butch Walker’s wife, who admitted that she would never want to compete with his art. She understands that their relationship is not going to have the “normal” family life of come home from work, have dinner, and tuck the kids into bed. She understands it and she accepts it.
Other touching moments in the documentary centered on Butch Walker’s relationship with his son as well as his relationship with his own father and how the two travel down similar paths. The mythos of the name “Butch Walker” is revealed in a very heartfelt moment, and it is easy to see how Walker’s father was always his number one supporter. Walker hopes to be just as supportive to his son as his father was to him. Scenes with Butch and son are well filmed and realistic, as at one point we get to witness Butch’s son complain about having to take a bath. The realism in this documentary is what really makes it special.
Walker started out in a late 80s metal band Southgang before forming The Marvelous 3 and then moving on to a magnificent, albeit not well known, solo career. I first discovered Butch Walker when The Marvelous 3 released Ready, Sex, Go as “Sugarbuzz” was receiving a lot of airplay on my local radio station. After hearing the song a couple of times, I knew that I had to have that album. When I purchased it, I was not disappointed and it provided me a new band to fall in love with. From that point on I continued to follow Walker’s career, not just as a musician, but as a producer as well.
If you have never listened to a Butch Walker record, I highly recommend that you start with his solo album Left Of Self Centered. After that, I would recommend Ready, Sex, Go by The Marvelous 3. Both are amazing records that you can easily get hooked on. After that, there are several albums to check out, including a double live disc. As for learning more about Butch Walker, check out the documentary Butch Walker: Out Of Focus. It is a fantastic documentary that not only captures the life of Butch Walker, but gives an insider look at a working musician and the struggles they lead as they try to make money on their art.
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Sycamore Meadows, the street where acclaimed musician Butch Walker lived and worked in Malibu, CA has drastically changed as a result of the massive wildfires that destroyed much of the area last November. And like many other Southern California residents, Walker lost his entire house and all his personal possessions in those fires, including his studio and every master recording he’s ever made. But inspiration sometimes comes from tragedy and so it became that this event incited Butch Walker to create music unlike anything he had ever done before. The result is his fourth album entitled Sycamore Meadows, due out on November 11, 2008 (Power Ballad/Stay Platinum/Original Signal). His revered talent shines through on this very personal album and will further prove the staying power of Walker as a solo artist.Always known to change up his musical styles, Butch Walker trades in his smart-glam, David Bowie-Marc Bolan sound heard on the previous solo album – The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let’s Go Out Tonites (July 2006/Epic) – for a classic and introspective sound highlighting his poignant lyrics and unforgettable melodies on Sycamore Meadows. Walker wrote and produced the entire album resulting in a collection of 12 beautifully constructed songs, delivering the distinct vibe his rabid fans already love him for and which will undoubtedly attract new audiences.
First single “The Weight of Her” is an uptempo, anthemic jam that launches the album while ballad “Ships in a Bottle” slows the mood down. “Ships in a Bottle” will be accompanied by a moving homemade video that documents the remains of his house before it was cleared away. It premiered as a featured video on MySpace Music (http://www.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=videos) during the week of September 17-September 24, 2008. Both tracks are currently available on iTunes. Another standout track, “Here comes The…” features vocals from a soulful and raw Pink. “ATL” is an ode to the city where he grew up featuring lyrics like “Oh Atlanta please need me like I needed you, let your sweaty embrace open wide” while on “Going Back/Going Home” he addresses the fire directly “I finally know the difference between going back and going home.”
Butch Walker has seen nearly six years of success as a solo artist and as front man for Marvelous 3, Butch Walker and The Let’s Go Out Tonites while also producing and writing GRAMMY-nominated and hit songs for countless other artists. But what really sets him apart from other writers and producers is his dedicated fan base as an artist, selling out venues across the country for several years now and even being considered one of the best live performers of his generation.
Butch Walker plans to set out on a full U.S. headline tour in February 2009. In the meantime he’ll be playing the following venues in support of the album: Nectar Lounge, Seattle 10/21; The Loft, Atlanta 11/10; Blender Theatre, New York City 11/13; North Star Bar, Philadelphia 11/14; Maxwell’s, Hoboken 11/15; DC9, Washington D.C. 11/17.
1. The Weight of Her
2. Going Back/Going Home
3. Here Comes The…
4. Ponce De Leon Ave.
5. Ships in a Bottle
7. Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car, Thought of You
8. The 3 Kids In Brooklyn
9. Summer Scarves
10. A Song For The Metalheads
11. Closer To The Truth and Further From The Sky
I must admit that I am long overdue in checking out Cinder Road. The band has been growing in popularity, and opening for likes of Daughtry and Tesla, hasn’t hurt their cause one bit.
I recently caught Cinder Road live. My wife and I enjoyed their show, so I had to check out their new CD, Superhuman.
Much like Stonerider, whose album I reviewed on Monday, Cinder Road is a 2nd debut by this 5 piece band from Lutherville, Maryland. The band already has a couple of albums to their credit under the moniker, Plunge. I haven’t heard any of those songs, but thank god they changed that awful name!
Cinder Road has a sound that is probably closer to Butch Walker’s Marvelous 3, than anything remotely hard rock. Their songs have a hard edge, which make the songs easily palatable for main stream music and hard rock fans alike.
I prefer the harder cuts on Superhuman. My favorite songs on this record are, I’m So Sorry, Should’ve Known Better, and Get In Get Out.
Superhuman is a solid effort by Cinder Road, and one that should garner some mainstream success for the band. The music is a little lighter than those usually reviewed at HRH, but Superhuman is certainly a disc worth exploring!
You can check out more of their songs, at the band’s myspace page here.
Rating:Out of 10
1. I’m So Sorry
2. Bad Excuse
3. Back Home To You
4. Should’ve Known Better
5. Get In Get Out
6. Learning To Love
7. Feels So Good
10. Drift Away
11. Don’t Be Scared
Cinder Road is:
Mike Ruocco – vocals
Chris Shucosky – guitar
Pat Patrick – guitar
Nat Doegen – bass
Mac Calvaresi – drums
In 1992, Southgang released their sophomore effort, Group Therapy. This disc was released towards the end of late 80’s and early 90’s glam metal scene. The introduction of grunge killed any chance of Southgang maintaining any level of success.
It is a real shame too, as Group Therapy is a definite step up from the band’s debut CD, Tainted Angel. The songs on this record have a harder edge, and less of that pop metal sound found on the first album.
These Georgia boys went out in style, as Group Therapy is one great, hard rocking affair. Butch Walker added a bluesier style of guitar to the songs on this record, giving the band a better, more relevant hard rock sound.
The production value on Group Therapy is quite high. This disc was produced by Howard Bensen, who also produced Pretty Boy Floyd’s Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz, and Bang Tango’s Psycho Cafe, and years later Chris Daughtry’s multi-platinum debut.
There truly isn’t a bad song on this record. It rocks from
beginning to end! Some of my favorite cuts on this disc are Water Under the Bridge, Tug of War, and Culture Clash City.
Sadly, this is the band’s last record, and a I am guessing that a reunion is highly unlikely.
Mitch McLee, Jayce Fincher and Butch Walker went on to form the Marvelous 3 after the break up of Southgang, but are no longer together.
Group Therapy has been out of print for years. Used copies turn up from time to time at Amazon.com and Ebay, and well worth picking up. If you don’t own any records by Southgang, this is the one worth searching for.
Rating:Out of 10
1. White Trash With Cash
2. Water Under the Bridge
3. Tug of War
4. Fire in Your Body
5. Final Resting Place
6. Legend of C.C. Road
7. Culture Clash City
10. My Best Friend’s Girl
11. Ode to Peggy’s
12. Blue Bird Has Landed [The Uncut Trail Mix]
Jesse Harte – Vocals
Mitch McLee – Drums
Jayce Fincher – Bass
Butch Walker – Guitars