- Interviews
Brett Walker

Born and raised in Norman, Oklahoma Brett Walker picked up the guitar at age 15 and soon began playing school assemblies and town functions.

At age 20 he made the decisive move to Los Angeles where he found himself as a "hired gun" playing with such artists as Tahnee Cain and Nick Gilder. A It also marked his introduction to the world of professional song writing.

Branching out on his own, Brett began seriously pursuing a career as a singer/songwriter and in 1988 had his first cut on a record on a major label record. He continued working on his own, and on the strength of his tape, went to NYC to work with renowned producer David Prater (producer of Fire House and Dream Theater).

In 1989, Brett wrote two charting singles; one for Jimi Jamison and the other for the band Alias. "Waiting for love" recorded by Alias, went on to become Brett's first top ten single in 1990.

After being courted by several companies, Brett signed a major publishing deal with Virgin Music in 1991.

Now I stole all that from Brett's web page (thanks Brett!), and that sort brings us up to where Brett released his awesome debut album 'Nevertheless'. So I caught up with Brett to see how one makes such a good record......

So Brett, you have been working as a songwriter for a number of years. Was always your intention to have solo records?
When I first started playing as a teenager, I always pictured myself in a band. But after I got a bit older, I realized that my lyrics only made sense to me when I was writing about something personal or close to my heart. So it just seem natural to make music as a solo artist. Other people that know me well tell me I am definitely a solo artist. I think that other people tend to see you more as what you are than you do.

Can you tell me some of the artists you have written with/ or for? I know of your hit with Alias, and also a song covered by Jim Jamison you and Carl Dixon wrote.
I like writing for myself mostly these days. It seems that the business of trying to get songs on other peoples records has turned into a very corporate commercial game. I don't know, maybe it always has been and I am just now noticing it. It seems you have to have titles like "Waiting For Love". I think I've grown out of that.

You seem to work with Carl a lot. Good guy to write with?
Carl is a very intellectual person. He reads alot and can converse on any subject intelligently. Great sense of humor. Horrible kisser though! (joking)

You wrote a few on his solo record 'One'.

How did your solo deal come about with Zero, and with Empire?
Magnus Soderkvist called me up from Sweden and asked me if I would like to meet with him and Christer Wedin from Empire. I was flattered and excited.

Congratulations on a superb record!! (Nevertheless) There are melodies and harmonies an the album, that you just don't hear often enough, or of quality like that.
Is it hard to get that mix, or is it just the style you write in and enjoy?

I just do what feels good to me and I have to believe that what feels good to me, is also felt by other people. I find if I make a real heart felt statement that is honest, the rest of the world feels the same way. ya know?

You wrote with some pretty cool musicians for the record.... Can you describe working with.....Stan Bush......Nick Gilder......Moon Calhoun......Jim Peterik......and Jonathan Cain.
Now that would take a while! Jim Peterick is a very funny guy who has a very dry sense of humor much like my own. So we sort of naturally clicked. Nick Gilder is very artsy and a little more on the unique side. He's not really into an instrument or music theory, but that is what gives him his (Sky is the limit) creative veiw towards music.

Now, you worked with Jonathan more on the new Railbirds album, didn't you? I read that you are a huge fan of his!
Yeah, Faithfully still gives me chills from head to toe when I turn up the speakers to 10. One of the best all around musicians I've ever had the pleasure to work with. It was tough producing his organ playing on my record, because everything he played was brilliant. I honestly couldn't decide which takes were the best.

Why the change to a band name?
We're aiming for an American release with this band. America is not really signing many male solo artists these days. I think Bryan Adams kinda wore that dream out for the moment.

Yeah, that Bryan Adams thing, it's a real shame he has to resort to material like the schlop he sings today. I still think his finest album is 'Into The Fire'. He actually sang about something then!! He has such a class band, they are all being sold short.
I agree 100% And don't be afraid to print your opinion on that. I think there are alot of people that feel that way. But alot of people are afraid to say it. Hey, life is too short for gutless music. Even if he did make gutsy music at one time. That don't mean you have to like everything he does.

Where did the other guys in The Railbirds come from?
I've known em forever. Old friends...

Tell me about the different sound on the new album.
Well I wrote or co wrote all of the tune so it is still my kinda thing. I'd like to think it is a bit more modern than nevertheless. I want to always try new things. Otherwise, whats the point. I respect people that have a common thread that runs through their work called, Quality. Not familiarity.

You mentioned that you are trying to licence that album elsewhere around the world. How is that going?
I'm working on remixing and writing a few new things with Steve Lukather for an American release. Hopefully soon.

I love the captions on the sleeve of Nevertheless, after each song. Does Brett Walker have a pretty good sense of humour?
Yeah I think so. I'd like write a little more of it into my music in the future. Some of the greatest rock-n-roll lyrics of all time are very humorous in a satirical way. Tom Petty's the king of it.

It's nice to see an artist not taking themselves too seriously all the time!! How about touring? Do you enjoy getting out and playing live?
Yeah, we just did a Scandinavian tour that was a lot of fun. Very tireing though. I learned alot. You got to take care of yourself out there on the road, or else you burn out and can't sing. When people want to take you partying, they don't have to be on that bus at 9:00 the next morning and be on stage singing the next night. I used to think I was immortal. After a couple of weeks of partying in Sweden, I realized I am not.

What albums have you been listening to recently, and what records have influenced/inspired you to write?
I like the new Sheryl Crow record. I don't know, I seem to be getting less and less impressed by the music these days. Maybe it's just a phase I'm going through. Or maybe most of the current pop music out there just sucks large donkey ding dongs. Actually, I'm more turned on by whats happening in Europe at the moment.

Is there anyone out there you would love to write with?
Honestly? Not really. I'm more turned on by hearing other peoples magic and being inspired to go create something on my own. It's a very personal experience and I have a lot of fun exploring it on my own. Sure there are some heros of mine that I would be excited to work with if they showed interest. Steve Lukather is one of those hereos.

What else are you up to at the moment?
I just finished a couple of countryish tunes for a country artist that Dan Huff is producing in Nashville. It's not real dirt country.. More like the Eagles.

Okay Brett, you have to tell me about working with Steve Lukather!
Steve is a great guy. No egos, no rockstar attitudes or bullshit. He's a very humble guy. If you didn't know what great work he has done, you would probably know him for 5 years and he would never tell you. That's how down to earth he is. A living example of what a celebrity should be. Which is ironic because a lot of people in LA tend to think name dropping impresses people. When your around Luke, what name could you possibly drop? I mean hell, he's played on damn near everyones album. I mean what name could you say to impress him! "Ya, I'm working on this project with the Pope at the moment?" I mean really..
We are planning to remix the new album at his studio and are writing a few of new songs to add to the album.

With you re-mixing with Steve, does that mean that the album is not currently out in the States?
No it's not out in the states yet. We had some problems with our American Label (Intersound). I'm actually glad about that now. I tend to think that all things happen for a reason. Which is another story.....

And when it is releases will it still be the Railbirds album (or most of the original anyway)?
That's a good question. I think we will pick the very best of the record and add a few songs to it. Ya know, try to make it top notch. We are talking to a couple of major companies for an American release.

And I have to ask, have you any great bits of gossip or innuendo that I can help spread?!!!
I'm all out of gossip at the moment. Except I heard that Brett Walker used to be a lesbian female. Bretrisha. OK OK enough....

Thanks Brett!!
OK, Thanks Andrew and I'll talk to you soon.

For your enjoyment....Brett's discography (also borrowed from his site!):
1990 Stranger Michael Thompson Band / Geffen Records.
1991 Waiting For Love Alias / EMI Capitol Records (BMI Award Winning Top 10 Single).
1992 Taste Of Love Jimi Jamison / Scotti Bros Records (Billboard AOR top 50) Also available on Jimi Jamison/Survivor Greatest hits Volume 2 / Scotti Bros Records.
1993 After The Tears Jeff Paris / Now And Then records.
1994 Nevertheless (Entire album) Brett Walker / Empire Records Scandinavia / Toshiba EMI Japan (Scandinavian Top-40 National Sales Charts / with Top 10 radio hit ).
1994 Snakes In Paradise (co wrote 5 songs & produced the album) Snakes In Paradise /
Toshiba Japan / Various Labels In Europe.
1996 Brett Walker & The Railbirds (Entire album) Brett Walker / Intersound Records /
Westcoast Sony Scandinavia (Top 40 Radio Hit In Sweden & Denmark).
1996 Silver & Gold, It's A Good Thing, Drown In Your Ocean Westcoast Compilation CD Westcoast/SGA Europe.