While producing Butch Walker‘s seventh album, Afraid of Ghosts, Ryan Adams helped out his musician peer by recruiting some well-known friends, including Johnny Depp and songwriter/former Hüsker Dü guitarist Bob Mould, to record overdubs for the album. Noah Abrams captured the high-profile cameos in his behind-the-scenes short film, available above, which explores Walker’s songwriting inspiration and Adams’ spontaneous approach to production.
Toward the 4:40 mark, Depp casually strolls into the studio and lays down a raw, dissonant guitar solo on the brooding “21+.” (Walker had no clue the A-list actor would be playing on the track since Adams recommended the services of his “buddy J-Dizzle.”)
“He was everything you’d expect him to be: coming in, just hat down, ripping a solo and then leaving very mysteriously,” Walker says. In his segment, Mould records some rhythm guitar for “Father’s Day,” which Walker calls “probably the heaviest song I’ve ever written lyrically.”
Walker also discusses Adams’ blunt style of “ripping songs apart,” adding that the critiques gave him fresh perspective on songwriting. “You’ve gotta understand — I’m somebody who’s done all my records pretty much myself,” Walker says. “My day job is writing songs for other people, so when somebody starts tearing up my songs that I was playing right there on the spot, I was like, ‘Well, maybe that’s what I need.'”
The songwriter-producer – who’s previously worked with bands like Weezer and Fall Out Boy – says he “relinquished all power” to Adams, following his intuitive spirit. “You just have to learn how to let go of your pride and go, ‘I’m OK with that being out of tune’ or ‘I’m OK with that being a little fucked-up right there,'” he says. “Because those are the kinds of things when you listen to a record, that’s why they don’t get old.”