Butch Walker Breaks Out

In-demand producer/songwriter focuses on his own "Letters"

December 2, 2004 12:00 AM ET
Butch Walker has spent the past couple years writing and producing hits for everyone from Avril Lavigne to Simple Plan. But this fall, the former Marvelous 3 frontman is focusing on promoting his own album, Letters, on an arena tour opening for Lavigne and on a club tour with American Hi-Fi.

"I didn't know what her fans would think of my whole thing but it's been overwhelming," says Walker of Lavigne. "I've been selling out of my CDs and shirts every night and seemingly winning over the entire arena, so it's pretty cool. I couldn't ask for more. I've been wanting to get my music out to other people outside of my little cult following for a long time. Every night people have been coming up, going, 'I've never heard of you, but you're amazing.' I'm not bragging -- I'm just quoting."

On his club tour, which kicks off Saturday in North Carolina, Walker will play an integrated set with American Hi-Fi. He'll play keyboards with them, and they'll back him on his songs. "These guys pull it off and then some live," Walker says. "It sounds like they played the record, and in this day and age -- when most people are actually playing to tape as opposed to actually playing live -- that's kick-ass."

On a break from touring, Walker recorded a cover of Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" for Richard Branson's Rebel Billionaire show. "They didn't want to use the G'n'R version because Axl probably wanted five million dollars or something, and Paul McCartney didn't want to use his version," Walker says. "[McCartney] wanted someone to cover it but he would grant the permission for someone else to record it only if it came out good," he explains. "I always thought it would be sacrilege to record any Beatles song -- except maybe one of Ringo's -- but if you're going to record Paul McCartney's song, don't fuck it up. So I went in and made it almost like a faithful replica of the original. I'm probably going to have it released as something on iTunes just to get it out there. To me, it's totally cool. At least a Beatle doesn't think I suck."

Since his ascendance as a producer, Walker has found himself in the amusing position of fielding phone calls from some of the same label reps that passed on his records in years past. "They're all a bunch of sheep," he says. "They just go with the flock on what's poppier that day . . . Getting phone calls from A&R guys wanting me to fix their broken bands that they signed -- it's like, 'Oops, we signed this band, and they have no fucking songs.' And these are the same guys that told me I didn't have any songs when I was in Marvelous 3 trying to get a record deal. I find that slightly pathetic and extremely poetic."

Butch Walker and American Hi-Fi tour dates:

12/4: Raleigh, NC, Lincoln Theater
12/5: Washington, DC, 9:30 Club
12/6: New York, Bowery Ballroom
12/7: Boston, Paradise
12/9: Philadelphia, North Star
12/10: Pittsburgh, Mr. Smalls
12/11: Detroit, Shelter
12/15: Minneapolis, Ascot Room
12/18: Atlanta, Variety
12/19: Orlando, FL, Social
12/20: Athens, GA, 40 Watt

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