Butch Walker Interview

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  Songwriter Butch Walker attends the American Music Awards Luxury Lounge - Day 3 at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 22, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Parry/Getty Images for Media Placement)Having worked as a producer and songwriter for the likes of Pink and Avril Lavigne, Butch Walker is no stranger to success. However, the fact that his work with other artists has thus far frustratingly overshadowed his own music career has meant that the true extent of his talent is still something of a well-kept secret from the mainstream. Something tells us this isn’t going to be the case for much longer so we caught up with him for a chat on the Glasgow date of Pink’s Summer Carnival Tour…

In the UK at least, you seem to be more known as a music producer than as an artist. Do you think that through playing these huge stadium shows with Pink that people are starting to take more notice of your own music and see you as a musician in your own right?
Yeah, I mean even in America I think people still see me more as a producer than an artist because I’ve been linked to people that are ‘bigger’ due to working on their records and I’ve sort of just been – I don’t ever know what to call it… an underground artist, I guess. Ironically, I’ve been doing this for years and so to have people only recognise me as a producer is weird considering I haven’t been doing it for nearly half as long! I guess over here I thought I was going to be starting from scratch. I didn’t even think anyone would know who I was at all! Word travels fast over the internet I guess! After playing even just a few shows over in Germany I could see the reception getting warmer and warmer each night. That’s always nice to see.

I hear you’ve been playing a few solo club shows over here as well…
Yeah! They’ve been getting better and better each time! The shows are small but they are better than what I would be able to do if I came over here on my own. If I tried that then probably about four people would turn up to see us play! [laughs!]

So, have you ever played in Scotland before? I’ve been a big fan for years but have never been able to see you perform live!
No! This is my first time and I am very, very excited about it because it’s where my heritage is from! I am actually of Scottish decent so I’ve been pretty excited to come over here and play for the first time!

Oh, really?! I never knew that! Have you been able to get out and see the city at all?
I went out for a while yesterday and got my shopping done in Glasgow which was cool but that was about it, really.

Last week you performed with Pink just before Paul McCartney took to the stage at the Isle of Wight festival. How did it feel to meet the man himself? Were you a big fan of his growing up?
Oh wow! Meeting him was pretty cool! He is a huge influence on me and on pretty much all modern music. I think that meeting a Beatle is one of the few exceptions I make to being star struck!

You’re playing Alton Towers tomorrow!
I know, I hear it’s an amusement park with lots of rides?

Yeah! Lots of really big, scary rides!
Oh wow, that’s going to be fun!

How would you describe your sound to someone who hadn’t listened to any of your music before?
Um, it’s not as hard to listen to my music as it is to describe it as I don’t really know what it is, it’s just a form of older, classic pop music. Back when the Beatles were a pop band, it wasn’t a bad word so I like to look on it that way too. Some people call it power-pop, others call it rock and roll but I just like to make sure the lyrics mean something and I’ve always been a huge fan of short, catchy songs so I try to just combine the two.

Who are your influences and is there anyone in the industry you would really like to collaborate with?
I’m definitely a fan of a vast range of artists and different music genres. One minute I’ll be pulling from Tom Petty, The Beatles and Elvis Costello, but the next minute it changes. I’m always really inspired by those guys who are able to write really melodic, concise songs that have some melody in there.

What do you look for in the projects you produce?
I just want it to be interesting and fun. It doesn’t have to be a particular style of music because I enjoy producing all different kinds of music. I grew up listening to all different styles of music so I never really wanted to just produce one type of music – that didn’t make sense to me. When I was growing up and learning to record bands I would produce music on the side to make extra money and I didn’t discriminate at all – I worked on rock, country, pop, punk, hip hop… you name it! I still like that feeling now, even though I do a little bit better at it now than I did it then. I think there’s good and bad music in every genre and I think that working on all different types of music keeps my job interesting!

And finally, what advice would you give other artists trying to make it in the music industry?
I would say that you can’t be afraid to try. A lot of people I know sit in their bedrooms and they are amazingly talented artists but they never end up leaving their bedrooms because they are scared of what people will think of them and they’re scared of being told that they’re not good enough. My favourite quote is ‘I regret the things I haven’t done, not the things I have’. I would rather fall on my face trying than not try at all!

Butch Walker is currently on tour with Pink in Europe. For details please log onto www.butchwalker.com

Interview by Amy Anderson