There’s just something about the live setting that brings out the most in any given song. Scott Walker has made that a focal point on his upcoming album The Rock House Project, set for release on October 25.
The album, which Walker describes as a blend of classic country and garage band rock, has been a long time coming. The album was delayed a few years ago by an oil pipeline running through his property, leading Walker to move to Terlingua, Texas.
With the album’s release in sight, hear from Walker about his first major music lesson from his father, his recording strategy, focusing on his songwriting, what listeners can expect from The Rock House Project and more!
PC: Who were some of your biggest musical influences growing up?
Scott Walker: First would be my father. He was a wonderful musician, he even opened for Elvis. He taught me a lot about music. My first music lesson from him came when I was a little kid. He played a chord on the guitar; a C-chord, and ask how it made me feel. I didn’t know how to answer. Then he played a minor chord and ask how that made me feel, and I told him it was a little scary and sad. Then he played a seventh chord and asked the same question, and I told him it was kind of silly. It was a really important lesson in how music conveys emotion.
PC: You’ve been in or around music for most of your life. What was it about music that connected with you at a young age?
SW: I’ve just always loved music, even as a little child. In high school, I played football, and I was pretty good and I enjoyed it, but I had a horse wreck and broke my hip. I realized I wasn’t going to play football anymore, and I thought that I had to find something else that the girls would be interested in [laughs]. I started taking music seriously at that point. I hooked up with some buddies in high school, and we formed a band.
PC: Was there a moment you knew that you wanted to pursue a career in music, or was it a culmination of things in those years?
SW: At the beginning, it was just whatever gig I could get. It turned into some road gigs where I was actually depending on music to make a living for a while. I don’t know that I ever made the decision that that’s what I was going to do, it just ended up that way. I played guitar and bass guitar in different bands, and worked my way up the scale a little bit, and got to play with some really great players.
PC: Your debut album The Rock House Project, which will be released in October, has been in the works for several years. What emotions are you feeling now that the finish line is in sight?
SW: Mostly just pure adrenaline and excitement. I’m so excited to have this project completed. My CDs got delivered the other day, so it’s very exciting. I went through a lot of emotions as we recorded it. It took three years to record, mostly because in the middle of it, I decided to make a life-changing move. It took a long time, and we finally got back to the project. I hired a producer named Bill Palmer, who’s become a brother to me, and we had a great time making this record.
PC: You recorded the album in the Chihuahuan Desert. What was was it about that location that drew you to record there?
SW: I’ve loved the Chihuahuan Desert since I discovered it in high school. I came out to the Big Bend on my spring break in high school, and I knew I just wanted to be here. It’s an incredible place. When I went to college, I transferred out to Alpine, Texas, and I studied geology. I started playing the local bars there, and started writing songs. I’ve come back to the Big Bend year after year to charge my batteries. When we were making the record, I was living on the family farm in Northeast Texas that I had inherited from my parents. There was an oil company putting a pipeline through, and we couldn’t stop it. They ripped right through the heart of our property. We decided we needed to move, and my wife and I decided to come here because we thought we could thrive here.
PC: You’re recording a music video for the song “Fourteen Days” from the album. Why did you decide to have a video made for that song?
SW: It was mostly because of the location. My dear friend had just bought property out here, and had bought a place that nobody had lived in for five years. it was kind of run-down and neglected, which is kind of the theme of the song. My wife is an amazing photographer and videographer, and she said it was the right scene for the video, so that’s where we chose to shoot it.
PC: “I Tell Myself” is my favorite song from The Rock House Project. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song?
SW: I wrote that song for a very dear friend of mine who was going through woman problems, and he was lying to himself about it. I wrote that song for him.
PC: What can listeners expect to hear on The Rock House Project when it’s released?
SW: What we set out to do when we recorded the album is have a live-band feel to it. To me, music sounds different and better when you’re playing with somebody and looking them in the eyes while you’re doing it. That’s more real than playing the track through and overdubbing in the studio, which is often the case. To me, there’s a magic that occurs when musicians are playing with each other, and that’s what I really wanted to capture. I brought some of the best musicians that I know, and we rented a house for a couple of weeks, and just started recording the songs. As a whole, the record is a blend of classic country and what I call garage band rock and roll. They’re some good old foot-stompin’ tunes that we had fun playing.
PC: What do you hope listeners take away from the album after listening all the way through?
SW: I hope they think I’m a good songwriter. I wrote all the songs on the record, and I hope they appreciate the time that we put into the record to make it really sound good. We took a lot of time to really do it right. I hope people appreciate the effort!
PC: Is there a level of vulnerability that you’re feeling as release day is getting closer, being that you were a writer on all of the songs and played a big part in the record coming together as a whole?
SW: That is a part of myself that I am actively denying right now [laughs]. I won’t allow myself to feel that.
PC: Along with releasing The Rock House Project, what are your plans for the rest of 2019 and beyond?
SW: I’d really love to get more gigs and to get the music where people can hear it. I did this for a long time. Lately, I’ve been living a very quiet life in the middle of nowhere, so the most intimidating aspect to me is going back out into the world and doing this again, but I am very excited about the opportunity to do it!
*Images courtesy of Scott Walker Facebook page*