Butch Walker

Butch Walker strolls through the front door of his cushy Malibu beach house, and his two dogs come skidding across the floor with outstretched toenails and a chorus of contented woofs. Stretching out a sleeve of tattoos to scratch a pug behind the ear, 37-year-old Walker muses, “I don’t know if I want to put out another record right now. I feel like that whole process is so cliché and so ’80s. Every record, I put my blood, sweat, and tears into it, and grit my teeth and bite my nails over whether people are going to hear it. Who knows? Maybe I’ll just put one song out a month so that by the end of the year everyone’s got a record. But, I may change my mind about that tomorrow.”

Butch Walker purchased his beachfront home in January, but hasn’t spent much time with his toes in the sand yet. Producing pop rock confections for the likes of Pink, Avril Lavigne, and Fall Out Boy has kept him quarantined in his in-house recording studio. But, now that it’s been a year since he put out a record of his own, he’s spent increasing time mulling over what’s next for him as a musician and playing his dizzying collection of Gibsons. 

“My guitarsenal is funny if you look at it,” says Walker. “It looks like a Gibson ad. I think my guitar boat had maybe eight to 10 guitars in it when I was on tour, and they were all Gibsons.”

Butch Walker

Calling himself an “artist first,” Walker’s got the guitar collection to back it up. With his three favorite Gibsons being his ’67 ES-335, ’71 ES-355, and a late-’60s EB0 bass, Walker says, “Those are my Gibsons that I don’t take on the road. They’re just too precious to me.” On his frequent tours, Walker always takes along a ’72 Les Paul, two newer Firebirds, a ’60s Les Paul Junior, an EB-3 bass, an '80 EDS-1275, and a ’62 Hummingbird. Though Walker says he began his collection by buying and selling various guitars, his producing job means he no longer has to sell any.

“I certainly never thought I would end up producing for a living or, even weirder, to be known for it,” says Walker. “I set out with dreams to be a huge popular artist and all the pie-in-the-sky aspirations that came along with the stars in my eyes when I was 16 years old. The actual popularity came from me producing much bigger artists, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. The truth is if I’d had a hit when I was 21 years old I’d probably never be heard from again. Now I can still go into every city I play and pack a small theater or a large club, and that’s perfect for me. I’m totally happy with that.”

Butch Walker

Over the years, Butch Walker’s creative transformation has become the biggest constant in his life. In 1988, at the age of 18, the Cartersville, Georgia native left the South and struck out for the Hollywood Hills. After several years with teenage rock band SouthGang, who failed to catch on as well in the States as they did in China, Walker formed Marvelous 3, in which he took his first turn as frontman, and penned the band’s ’98 hit single “Freak of the Week.” Touring non-stop throughout the ’90s helped to cultivate Walker’s still-loyal fan base. 

Butch Walker

“I get asked a lot if I would rather be a successful pop star and be on TV and in those Us Weekly magazines, and honestly no,” says Walker. “If I can make just as good a living as them, but be behind the scenes and still go out and play to my wonderful fan base who sing back every word I sing at them, then I’ll take that.”

Walker uses a queue of unsavory adjectives to describe Los Angeles—“weird, pretentious, desensitized, vapid,” but admits, “My last record was an ode to the Los Angeles lifestyle. This crazy city taught me a lot of how to be and how not to be and gave me lots of writing material because I never thought my own life was that interesting.”

Though Walker’s 2004 solo album, Letters, was written mostly on piano, last summer’s The Rise and Fall of…Butch Walker and the Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites marked his thunderous return to rock ’n’ roll guitar. “It’s definitely a guitar-driven album, because a lot of it was written while sitting there with my lead guitarist Michael, and we had the amps up so we could make a record that sounded like a rock record,” Walker says.

An assortment of party anthems about the apathetic, drug-fueled L.A. scene, The Rise and Fall of…Butch Walker and the Let’s-Go-Out-Tonites might be depressing if it weren’t so deliciously dishy. The album was also Walker’s first time back with a band in nearly 10 years. “I felt like I was part of a gang again,” says Walker. “I grew up in a band and then became a solo artist, and it got lonely.”

Cracking a door overlooking the beach, Walker looks out across the pale blue water that comprises his backyard, and says, “This summer, I’m pretty much just going to chill out at home and work on writing music. I never stop recording other people or touring, but I just moved to the beach so I’ll be damned if I’m never going to be here to see it. I think I’ll hang here until I’m sick of seeing sand."

Butch Walker

Butch Walker's Gibsons:

Hummingbird True Vintage
Hummingbird True Vintage

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Les Paul Classic Antique
Les Paul Classic Antique

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1957 Junior Single Cutaway
1957 Junior Single Cutaway

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Epiphone EB-3
Epiphone: EB-3

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Firebird V
Firebird V

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EDS-1275
EDS-1275

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ES-335
ES-335

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EB-0 Bass
EB-0 Bass

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