If you want a peek at Butch Walker's speed dial, the most recent copy of Billboard might do the trick.
The former Marvelous 3 frontman is beginning to rival Linda Perry for the title of go-to producer, thanks to his recent work with everyone from singer/songwriter types (Pete Yorn) to the cream of the pop-punk scene (Hot Hot Heat, the All-American Rejects, the Academy Is ... ). And somehow, between all that and producing the next Avril Lavigne record (see "Butch Walker Prefers Avril's Friendly Fans To The Punks Who Booed Him"), Walker found time to write and record his third solo album, The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let's-Go-Out-Tonites! due July 11.
"It really has everything from Springsteen to Dylan, the Stones and T. Rex," Walker, 36, said of the album, which veers from tongue-in-cheek country twang ("Rich People Die Unhappy") to Kinks-like guitar pop ("Paid to Get Excited"), Lennon-esque ballads ("We're All Going Down") and the kind of high-gloss arena rock he's built his reputation on ("Hot Girls in Good Moods"). "[The title] is kind of my nod to David Bowie, in that everyone has [ripped] him off and they all became bigger because of it."
Unlike Walker's introspective 2004 breakup album, Letters, the new disc is a mostly upbeat collection of high-energy party anthems about having the kind of high times not seen since late-1980s videos for bands like Mötley Crüe and Poison.
"I had an amazing year last year, so there's no reason to be sappy and emo-tastic on people," Walker said of anthems like the hand-clapping first single, "Bethamphetamine (Pretty Pretty)." "The last record I did when I was in a dark, dim place, and I love it, but half the songs are gut-wrenching. On this new one, I couldn't fake that. I couldn't be insincere and write about heartbreak."
With everything from pedal steel to trumpets, the seven-member Let's Go Out Tonites band provides hearty backing for Walker, who has to laugh when describing the late-night inspiration behind "Bethamphetamine." The party-girl anthem is a tribute to "all the girls I've known in L.A. and New York who I can't keep up with and who know every door guy in every club and can't stay out of the bathrooms or in a conversation for more than five minutes," Walker said. "Yet I still hang out with them."
In addition to rehearsing with his band for an upcoming U.S. tour and some European dates, Walker has been busier than ever on the production front. A sampling of some recent studio sessions:
- Walker said the material he's working on for Lavigne's next record has been "really fun, crazy, cool and pretty rockin'." Writing with Lavigne and her former guitarist, Evan Taubenfeld, Walker said he's finished half the record, and so far, it's a testament to the singer's maturity. "She's growing up and maturing gracefully," he said. "It's gonna be a lot of fun."
- He recently flew into Las Vegas for a quick one-night session with the All-American Rejects for an upcoming single from their next album, a cover of the Beach Boys' "I Can Hear Music."
- The producer's recorded 10 songs for the next Hot Hot Heat record so far, which he thinks will really surprise people. "It's way more adventurous than the last couple of records," he said. "We went back to the studio where they made their first album in five days, and we made this one in 10. It's not just guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, because I didn't want them tagged as a quirky Canadian keyboard band."
- Walker also worked on songs for the next record from the Academy Is ... ; produced a single from the upcoming Pete Yorn album, Nightcrawler; and will produce the album for "Rock Star" band Supernova, featuring Tommy Lee, ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke and a singer to be chosen on the reality series (see "Jason Newsted Says Frantic Pace Of 'Rock Star: Supernova' Is 'Asking For Miracles' ").
- He re-teamed with pal Pink to record a cover of the Rufus and Chaka Khan song "Tell Me Something Good" for the upcoming animated movie "Happy Feet."
Upcoming Butch Walker tour dates, according to his spokesperson:
- 7/18 - Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
- 7/19 - Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
- 7/20 - Nashville, TN @ City Hall
- 7/22 - Raleigh, NC @ Moore Square Park
- 7/24 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
- 7/25 - Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
- 7/26 - New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
- 7/28 - Boston, MA @ Axis
- 7/30 - Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
- 7/31 - Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
- 8/1 - Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall
- 2/2 - Chicago, IL @ Metro
- 8/4 - Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line
- 9/9 - San Francisco, CA @ Slim's
- 9/12 - Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
- 9/13 - San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
- 9/14 - Hollywood, CA @ Henry Fonda Theatre