'Drinking With Strangers'-REVIEW
Some folks remember him from his stint as guitarist in the late 90's hair-metal posse SouthGang, more would be familiar with him from his lone hit single, 1998's "Freak Of The Week" by his then-band Marvelous 3(3/4s of SouthGang, by the way), but most everyone with ears has undoubtedly(however unknowingly) been subjected to one of the many pop hits he has written and/or produced for the likes of Pink, Avril Lavigne, Simple Plan, Tommy Lee, Sevendust, etc., etc., etc.....Ladies & gentlemen, I give you Butch Walker.
These days Butch is well into the prime of his solo career, enjoying life as a "mid-level artist", releasing solo albums and touring when his schedule as a producer permits him the leisure, and enjoying his status as a "1 1/2 hit wonder" that plays neither the 1 nor the half in his live shows. Why? Simply because he doesn't want or really need to. He's developed a fan base so rabid that; while not exactly massive in numbers, he can please with 2 hours worth of obscure material, because they hang on EVERY syllable of EVERY word he has EVER written. Truth be told, he could probably sing the first line of any song, step away from the mic for a smoke break, and folks in the cheap seats wouldn't know the difference because his audiences insist on singing along throughout, unless otherwise prompted to silence by Mr. Walker himself. I've witnessed it...hell, I might've joined in.
I mention this rare phenomenon, because in addition to his already hectic schedule of making music for both his band and a slew of others, Butch has somehow found the time to pen an autobiography(along with assistance from journalist Matt Diehl). Entitled "Drinking With Strangers, Music Lessons From A Teenage Bullet Belt", it's 253 pages that trace his life as a social misfit from the redneck hills of Georgia, to his earliest brushes with fame in late 80's Los Angeles, and back to ground zero, Atlanta, where he would eventually dust himself off and start over not once, but twice.
His insights into recent work with such pop mega-stars as Pink & Avril Lavigne are particularly revealing, of both the remarkable come-from-behind triumphs he has experienced as a result of these associations, as well as the utter disappointments suffered at the hands of unscrupulous counterparts. His perspective on the seedier elements of the music business are almost Zen, especially in light of the fact that he's had more major label record deals in his career than there are actual major labels in 2011.
His candor in detailing his involvement with the reality TV fiasco known as RockStar: Supernova is endearing for it's honest accounting of how one gets sucked into such an "opportunity", in spite of every gut instinct telling him to run screaming from the imminent wreckage.
Perhaps the most simultaneously tragic yet hilarious segment of "Drinking With Strangers" involves his detailing the failure of what he refers to as a "social experiment", one which entailed him grudgingly accepting an offer to "produce" Lindsey Lohan. In light of her recent legal drama, I didn't expect to be the least bit shocked, and yet I was.....re-reading a passage or two just to be certain my comprehension skills weren't fading on me.
You don't have to be a fan of Butch's work to find merit in this tome...you could probably treat it as a work of fiction if you like, but if you are a fan, you'll wanna grab this from Amazon.com, or wherever else they may be stocking it. It's a quick read, and for anyone that grew up playing air-guitar to Motley Crue & Van Halen, you may feel like you're reading a diary you forgot you wrote.