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From his days with his band the Marvelous 3 to his current work producing some of today's hottest talent - from Weezer and Katy Perry to Pink and The Donnas - Butch Walker has been a major influence in contemporary pop music. But the road to success wasn't easy. "Drinking with Strangers" takes readers beyond the studio for a rare glimpse into a life that has been defined b From his days with his band the Marvelous 3 to his current work producing some of today's hottest talent - from Weezer and Katy Perry to Pink and The Donnas - Butch Walker has been a major influence in contemporary pop music. But the road to success wasn't easy. "Drinking with Strangers" takes readers beyond the studio for a rare glimpse into a life that has been defined by raw talent, adversity and a drive for perfection. As a teenager, Walker and his band left Cartersville, Georgia for the mean streets of Los Angeles to try to make it in the rock world. When the fairy tale label dream never quite materialized after many false starts - including a really bad video from the guy who did all the Aerosmith videos - Walker and his band quickly converted to the DIY (do it yourself) approach, touring the country and doing over 250 gigs a year, selling his merch, records, and even tapes out of any van that he happened to be driving that day. There are a lot of life lessons to be learned while out on the road trying to make it as a musician, and Walker is no exception - and here he shares his anecdotes and tales with insight and candor and what it's really like to spend a life of drinking with strangers. Almost a primer for anyone who wants to make it in the music business, "Drinking with Strangers" will be interspersed with lots of Butchisms, including "the world's most depressing pie chart about music publishing"; how in 1984 his production "studio" consisted of a boom box, while today it's a Studer and Pro Tools; how to make a really bad music video and spend 3x what the album cost to make; and of course what all musicians need to know - how and why their A&R guy (or gal) could get fired and leave you and your band in the dust.


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From his days with his band the Marvelous 3 to his current work producing some of today's hottest talent - from Weezer and Katy Perry to Pink and The Donnas - Butch Walker has been a major influence in contemporary pop music. But the road to success wasn't easy. "Drinking with Strangers" takes readers beyond the studio for a rare glimpse into a life that has been defined b From his days with his band the Marvelous 3 to his current work producing some of today's hottest talent - from Weezer and Katy Perry to Pink and The Donnas - Butch Walker has been a major influence in contemporary pop music. But the road to success wasn't easy. "Drinking with Strangers" takes readers beyond the studio for a rare glimpse into a life that has been defined by raw talent, adversity and a drive for perfection. As a teenager, Walker and his band left Cartersville, Georgia for the mean streets of Los Angeles to try to make it in the rock world. When the fairy tale label dream never quite materialized after many false starts - including a really bad video from the guy who did all the Aerosmith videos - Walker and his band quickly converted to the DIY (do it yourself) approach, touring the country and doing over 250 gigs a year, selling his merch, records, and even tapes out of any van that he happened to be driving that day. There are a lot of life lessons to be learned while out on the road trying to make it as a musician, and Walker is no exception - and here he shares his anecdotes and tales with insight and candor and what it's really like to spend a life of drinking with strangers. Almost a primer for anyone who wants to make it in the music business, "Drinking with Strangers" will be interspersed with lots of Butchisms, including "the world's most depressing pie chart about music publishing"; how in 1984 his production "studio" consisted of a boom box, while today it's a Studer and Pro Tools; how to make a really bad music video and spend 3x what the album cost to make; and of course what all musicians need to know - how and why their A&R guy (or gal) could get fired and leave you and your band in the dust.

30 review for Drinking with Strangers: Music Lessons from a Teenage Bullet Belt

  1. 5 out of 5

    Glen

    A biography of a heavy metal guitarist who evolves into an emo guitarist. It seems like everyone but the author always knew he was an emo. He makes the trek from Georgia to Hollywood, almost makes it big, but doesn't quite make it, which turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. Kisses up to the singer Pink a little too much, but not a bad minor celebrity bio.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Krystl Louwagie

    I seriously wrote a super long in depth review of this and it got erased. So...lets try this again... Admittedly, Butch has never seemed overly intelligent or deep in my eyes, but I love him anyways. He's got some kind of charisma and some kind of biting, loving, uniqueness to him. But it comes as no surprise that the book he wrote is full of pretty amateur sounding writing. A lot of feels like you're listening to him ramble about his own life in a bar, maybe slightly tipsy and slurring. The word I seriously wrote a super long in depth review of this and it got erased. So...lets try this again... Admittedly, Butch has never seemed overly intelligent or deep in my eyes, but I love him anyways. He's got some kind of charisma and some kind of biting, loving, uniqueness to him. But it comes as no surprise that the book he wrote is full of pretty amateur sounding writing. A lot of feels like you're listening to him ramble about his own life in a bar, maybe slightly tipsy and slurring. The words aren't chosen carefully, there's not a lot of really insightful moments. It's just him, talking about his experiences, without a lot of flashy or thoughtful editing. But because of that, it feels pretty genuine, and, like him, just as he is. And it's fairly fitting, being that that's a theme in the book and his life-drinking with strangers, sharing stories, and just trying to be who he really is, without dressing himself up to be something he isn't. The end wrap up is corny, but sweet, and it does feel a little more heartfelt, put together, and inspiring than the rest of the book. I enjoyed it. I don't think I would've been very invested in the book had I not been obsessed with Butch Walker for a good portion of my life, so I'm not really singing it's praises as a good book to people that wouldn't normally be interested. This part really has nothing to do with the book and more to do with my personal relationship (yes, very one sided! Ha!) with Butch, which this book of course made me reminisce about: Sadly, Butch isn't a fan of most of my favorite parts of his musical career-Marvelous 3 and Left of Self Centered (though Letters is high on my list, too, and he seems OK with that one). He feels like he's grown up from the glam rock stuff and is just over it, is doing more "true to himself" "grown up" stuff now. Eh, to me, it doesn't suit him as well. He's not all that wise or deep, so to me, I prefer him to be clever, cheeky, sarcastic, ironic, etc. If he wants to be deep he has very far to go, his deep stuff now is still pretty skimming the surface and cliche-I feel like the tongue and check stuff was more advanced and unique, actually. But, he grew out of it, so of course he should do what makes him feel connected to his life as it currently is. It's just not something that connects with me as much anymore. And even if he might detest "My Way" and never want to play or hear it again, it still makes my heart and face smile *every time* I hear it. And regardless of where he's going in his life is diverging from my tastes, I'll still always buy every new album and single of his, this book (well, this was a gift, but it was high on my list of what I wanted to own!), as well as the documentary about him, etc., etc. Also, I still find myself recognizing his guitar playing, voice, and writing style on the radio with other artist, and I'm still enjoying those as well. He's been a big enough part of my life, honestly, that he'll always be in my heart! :p

  3. 4 out of 5

    Spyder

    Yes, I am a fanboy for Butch Walker... Yes I own all of his records... that said, this is the best music auto-biography since Andy Summers' "One Train Later". This is his uncompromising, unapologetic story of highs and lows in the music business and his ability to adapt to the best and worst of it. There are no real surprises in this book if you know anything of his music... his story is already in his songs... all of it. What you will find here is a concise, in-depth expose' on the music business Yes, I am a fanboy for Butch Walker... Yes I own all of his records... that said, this is the best music auto-biography since Andy Summers' "One Train Later". This is his uncompromising, unapologetic story of highs and lows in the music business and his ability to adapt to the best and worst of it. There are no real surprises in this book if you know anything of his music... his story is already in his songs... all of it. What you will find here is a concise, in-depth expose' on the music business as it is today and how his career skirted around the changes that brought us to the present day of downloads, a return to the "single" format, bands building their own fan base and coming to terms with what is actual success in this cut-throat world. There's only a couple of instances where he wonders off into a hyper-critical rant or vendetta during the book but it never becomes uncomfortable or self-indulgent. "Drinking With Strangers" should be required reading for anyone who wants to be a musician/rock star/producer or so much as work in a mail room of a record label. I have friends that have worked for Butch, I know artists that have written with and been produced by him. Butch is the guy I wish I had the balls to be when I turned on MTV all those years ago and saw Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and cut off all of my hair realizing that my dream, as I dreamt it, was over. Butch figured it out... I look forward to the day I get to have a drink with him

  4. 5 out of 5

    Troy

    Butch Walker is better than everything. Awesome read from a musical hero of mine. He talks about that feeling he gets from music, that’s exactly what his did to me over twenty years ago and continues to do. A must read for any musician, song writer, producer, or fan of music. Tell me I sold out go ahead.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Holly Jordan

    So I’ve been a fan of Butch’s for at least 13 years, so I may be biased on this one. But as far as autobiographies go, it’s pretty good. Solid pacing, great stories (just like his songs and his stage banter). A great look at the insanity that is the music industry by someone who has survived it. Will absolutely make you want to pop on his records.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    I read this book over the course of four days and have been ruminating over it since. I agree with the majority of reviews written since the beginning of this year - there are moments of strength in his conveyance of events and insights. However there are moments of weakness in the writing, which makes me wonder what role Matt Diehl played. Butch Walker seems to be a natural story teller, however the writing was not tight enough for a cohesive story. My interest started to wane about half way th I read this book over the course of four days and have been ruminating over it since. I agree with the majority of reviews written since the beginning of this year - there are moments of strength in his conveyance of events and insights. However there are moments of weakness in the writing, which makes me wonder what role Matt Diehl played. Butch Walker seems to be a natural story teller, however the writing was not tight enough for a cohesive story. My interest started to wane about half way through. I wondered what happened to the editor at this point. I appreciate Butch Walker's honesty and he presents his story as a real human being - flaws, contradictions, and one who has gained some insight. One of the other reviews hit the nail on the head - there is still a bitterness that comes through that I was not anticipating (and to be honest, did not care for much). I think he is a man - one who possesses great talent and luck at times, and it appears he is continuing to evolve and grow every day (and like others, succeeds and fails in equal measures). I applaud his sharing his story - it is a brave thing to do to bare oneself - however the contradictions kept getting in the way of the storyline. As another reviewer touched on, he acknowledges the squandering of resources in his search for fame, yet he seems at times to blame others for this, as much as he potentially takes responsibility. Methinks he doth protest too much. I am the same age as he is and can relate to a lot of the stories he tells, many which put a smile on my face. But the title of this book kind of threw me off. I intially thought the vibe of the title as along the lines of "A stranger is just a friend you haven't met". It appears he has embraced his experiences of drinking with strangers and later in the book, says he enjoys those interactions (and getting free drinks). Yet in the Introduction, he speaks rather disparagingly about the guys to the left of him, being 'accosted' by their conversation, leaving me to believe that he doesn't care much for these interactions as much as the title may suggest. I thought he'd be a cool guy to share a drink with and shoot the proverbial ... talk. Now I rethink that impression. He finishes the introduction with "Just know that after you read the rest of this book, you will understand this scene a lot better." I finished the book and I'm afraid I don't understand his take on the scene any better. This is an example of the contradictions in the book that I, as a reader, can't compute.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rhiannon St. Clair

    I’ve been a Butch Walker fan for … almost 20 years now. My love for his work started with Marvelous 3 back in the late 90s and has continued along his journey as a solo act, songwriter, and producer. I was pretty excited when I heard he was writing a personal memoir and got my hands on Drinking with Strangers as soon as it came out. I enjoyed every minute of this book. Walker has always been an inspiration to me in my own creative endeavors, and as I read this it was like I was taking a walk wit I’ve been a Butch Walker fan for … almost 20 years now. My love for his work started with Marvelous 3 back in the late 90s and has continued along his journey as a solo act, songwriter, and producer. I was pretty excited when I heard he was writing a personal memoir and got my hands on Drinking with Strangers as soon as it came out. I enjoyed every minute of this book. Walker has always been an inspiration to me in my own creative endeavors, and as I read this it was like I was taking a walk with this incredibly talented individual, getting a first hand account of his own journey up the musical ladder. Walker shares his personal journey, which starts with music lessons in the suburbs of Atlanta, and ends in a hard earned, much-deserved cocoon of success in Malibu. Walker talks about the trials and tribulations of the music business—searching for labels, getting screwed by labels, getting screwed by fellow musicians (some of whom are your friends), dealing with contracts, royalties, promotion and sales … all of it. We get a first hand account of just how difficult it is to break into the music scene, and what it takes to sustain popularity and stay afloat once a person does break in. Walker shares personal stories from his life throughout the book as well, which was one of the things I admired the most about this book. Many celebrities pay a high price for becoming what they are, and are continuously badgered about details from their private lives. Walker didn’t have to share these details, but I appreciate the fact that he did. I already look at him as a down-to-earth and humble individual, but the personal accounts made him that much more relatable. Much of the book was emotion-driven. It was nice to hear what the inspiration for Walker’s albums and songs were, and as I went back and listened to a few of my favorite tracks while reading, I found myself having a deeper understanding and appreciation for the music. There’s a meaning behind the words that wasn’t there before. I also enjoyed the detailed look inside the music industry. Those of us on the outside of that world will probably never get a real look in, and this glimpse was both interesting and educational. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a Butch Walker fan.

  8. 5 out of 5

    CJ Butler

    From Marvelous 3 to butch, the Goofy-assed hard rocker has lived a misfit musical life as a kid, then grew to an indie-rock sensation that produces everyone under the sun, I grew up listening to butch walker starting at Left of self centered, some of his albums after, then went back down to Marvelous 3 and I must tell you, reading this book was a treat, he goes on talking about his 80's glam metal start to his great success of the punk/ hard rock-indie style making songs that take aim to the hea From Marvelous 3 to butch, the Goofy-assed hard rocker has lived a misfit musical life as a kid, then grew to an indie-rock sensation that produces everyone under the sun, I grew up listening to butch walker starting at Left of self centered, some of his albums after, then went back down to Marvelous 3 and I must tell you, reading this book was a treat, he goes on talking about his 80's glam metal start to his great success of the punk/ hard rock-indie style making songs that take aim to the heart, soul, and your funnybone. The events of the failing band 3, his house burning to the ground in recent years, experience with so many bands including bowling for soup and pink, and the main focus which is the turn of his life, that he wanted to do more mature music than the hard rock music he did way back then, his quote was "I was 30 years old thinking why the hell am I doing making the same music I made when I was 18." tended to do this in order not to sell out and bring out his music. The music matured to a more tom petty sound and he has been there ever since. The only thing I can say that he was a freak of the week who fell into the black who made music his way and got letters from his fans afterwards then drank with some of them.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Patti

    There were a lot of good things about this book – I liked the insight of the music industry and Walker’s journey of hard work and determination. Walker has great stories and amazing music. I love his albums because they’re very honest and personal. I’m not sure what Matt Diehl did to help write this book. It has the feel of long late nights of drunken story telling transcribed. When someone writes a memoir, I would think that they would want their experiences written down so that their grandchild There were a lot of good things about this book – I liked the insight of the music industry and Walker’s journey of hard work and determination. Walker has great stories and amazing music. I love his albums because they’re very honest and personal. I’m not sure what Matt Diehl did to help write this book. It has the feel of long late nights of drunken story telling transcribed. When someone writes a memoir, I would think that they would want their experiences written down so that their grandchildren would be able to read and appreciate what happened. Drinking with Strangers mentions so many passing fads that I’m not sure if anyone will even get the references in a year. It would benefit from footnotes ala Chuck Klosterman or a reference section. Walker mentions the movie “Role Models”? Irony is when the actual meaning is the opposite of its literal meaning. Walker goes to the Alanis Morissette school of using irony. When I was reading this book, I felt like I was the first person who ever read it all the way through. I wish that someone had given it a little more time so that it could have been great.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I feel like I read this book in about two seconds. It's a great read; a cautionary tale of the perils of the music industry as recalled by Butch Walker (with Matt Diehl). If you're not familiar with Walker, I like to call him "the man who writes the songs the whole world sings." He's been in, like, a zillion bands (i.e. SouthGang and Marvelous 3) and has been a successful "mid-level" solo artist for over a decade. Where he makes his bread and butter is writing and producing with folks like Katy I feel like I read this book in about two seconds. It's a great read; a cautionary tale of the perils of the music industry as recalled by Butch Walker (with Matt Diehl). If you're not familiar with Walker, I like to call him "the man who writes the songs the whole world sings." He's been in, like, a zillion bands (i.e. SouthGang and Marvelous 3) and has been a successful "mid-level" solo artist for over a decade. Where he makes his bread and butter is writing and producing with folks like Katy Perry, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Weezer, Bowling for Soup, Sevendust, The Donnas, Hot Hot Heat, American Hi-Fi, Midtown, Puffy AmiYumi, Pete Yorn, Fall Out Boy, All-American Rejects, SR-71, Dashboard Confessional and ... Lindsay Lohan. If you're a fan of Walker's you gotta read this memoir. If you love music and/or have ever had your heart broken by the music biz, it's a must. The ending gave me goosebumps. Now excuse me while I go watch that SouthGang "Tainted Angel" video again.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Josh S

    Butch Walker is a great song writer, a very good singer and at one time a pretty damn good guitar player. Butch Walker is also a little bitter. Having been chewed up and spit out by the music business as both a performer and a writer numerous times it's almost forgivable. Butch wears his heart on his sleeve while detailing the ins, outs, ups and downs of a "mid level" artist. As a book it's a fun fast read (like most musicians memoirs) not only for Walker fans, but those wondering what really hap Butch Walker is a great song writer, a very good singer and at one time a pretty damn good guitar player. Butch Walker is also a little bitter. Having been chewed up and spit out by the music business as both a performer and a writer numerous times it's almost forgivable. Butch wears his heart on his sleeve while detailing the ins, outs, ups and downs of a "mid level" artist. As a book it's a fun fast read (like most musicians memoirs) not only for Walker fans, but those wondering what really happens in the backrooms of a record company. Everything from being an almost one hit wonder, to fist fights over an Avril Lavigne single, it's all here. Not too bad for a guy from Cartersville, ("shh, don't say that too loud") Georgia. If you can look past the bitter snark, you might enjoy it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    so enjoyed this peek into the life of one of the best artists you've never heard of. Butch's personality definitely comes through. fun behind-the-scenes stories.

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Fox

    I am still confused how he is rich. Is Butch actually selling out tours? None of the songs he produced were that big. Semi big, but nothing huge. I love Marvelous 3 and liked the vantage point of a guy who didn't fully make it as a rock star, but some times Butch seemed pissed for his own missteps, then blame record labels. It was weird.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

    Perfect book! Really what I needed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    beauxmots

    4/4.5 stars - if you're a BW fan, you'll like this book. I like how he talks about his life from the start and then talks about the industry at the same time..I thought he may talk more about the industry, but the insight he has provided is really interesting. a quick read for a bio/memoir and some parts are pretty funny (they def make you smile). I thought he may include more information regarding his last few albums..and especially anymore insight on his songs would be great, especially from t 4/4.5 stars - if you're a BW fan, you'll like this book. I like how he talks about his life from the start and then talks about the industry at the same time..I thought he may talk more about the industry, but the insight he has provided is really interesting. a quick read for a bio/memoir and some parts are pretty funny (they def make you smile). I thought he may include more information regarding his last few albums..and especially anymore insight on his songs would be great, especially from the m3 heyday. I want to find the Tainted Angel music video, now, lol..that was his heavy metal band, Southgang's, only video. Some comments I have read mention that he talks about Pink (Alecia a lot); I disagree..it is only about 4 times and it makes sense he would mention her as they are really close friends. I would have liked some more insight, too, on any crazy stories as I find the rock and roll lifestyle pretty interesting. His Tommy Lee story is classic. One thing I noticed, and I am not sure if it is just me, I felt some sentences just didnt make sense..possibly due to extra words or just the way the sentence was laid out..it didnt read well. I found this about three times in the book. 4/4.5 as with most books nowadays i cannot read it all in one sitting...but whenever I took a break, i was excited to pick it back up again. I'd recommend this book to any BW fan...while I am sad he doesnt like tracks like My Way or may not recall or like a lot of his m3 stuff..that music is all great and I prefer it a bit more than his new stuff(tune-wise and m3 was one of the first artists who got me into rock)..but I still respect him a lot as an artist and I can understand how people may not like things they have done before..as he is one of my favorites...and he can actually sing! One of the few artists who can these days..no protools or auto-tuning allowed! Butch makes some interesting points, as well, about a hit song vs. a good song and why some songs and bands get played on the radio, even though they dont sound that great. He also is very honest and is happy to have fans as his..and I also like how he talks about if people think he has changed, it's mainly because he's inspired and enjoys all kinds of music, and whatever you're into at that time, you're going to emulate what's in your current environment. That's so true..and I think it's great he mentions it as it puts things in perspective and explains why his music has changed (and evolved) as all music and art changes over time. You wouldnt wear the same jeans you wore in 8th grade would you? (if they didnt fit you and you could afford others?) like fashion, music changes, too. While his music may be different, I still respect and appreciate artists like that..there's a reason why he's one of my favorites..singing ability, tunes, and lyrics, honesty, integrity, and never apologizing for who you are - like my other favorite artist, Matt Good..his style has also changed greatly. I also find it REALLY coincidental, that both Matt Good and Butch have said the SAME EXACT thing about bands like Nickelback, 3 doors down, etc - "they're all pretty much the same band..if you hear from one to the next, you cannot tell which is which.." wow. I personally could tell, probably, because I think their vocals are a bit different, but I'm not their biggest fans. This book is for ANY music lover who wants to learn about the industry, fans of BW, and in general, fans also who like to read memoirs. It may not be as in depth as Barbara Walters or as gritty as Nikki Sixx, but it's honest and fun. Thanks, Butch! Always a fan, Maria :) PS - this book also made me realize, that being a musician is just the same for any artist...whether you are a painter, designer, director/writer...everyone wants their art to be appreciated, but it is very hard to get that 'mainstream" fame...maybe being a mid-level artist, as Butch says, and being happy with that, is what you should strive for..as long as someone likes your work and it is a honest representation of what you want to do, it doesnt matter if you get the multi-million dollar deal..because then you'd wind up on vh1's 'behind the music' and no one wants to be that stereo-typed THAT GUY. X X

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robert Beveridge

    Butch Walker, Drinking with Strangers (Morrow, 2011) Butch Walker is, among traditional musicians (“traditional” here as opposed to the normal kinds of musicians I listen to, who specialize in noise, death industrial, and that sort of thing), one of the best in the business today. Over the past decade and change, he's released half a dozen studio albums under his own name after stints fronting hair-metal band SouthGang in the eighties and Marvelous 3 in the nineties. All of them are sterling; Wal Butch Walker, Drinking with Strangers (Morrow, 2011) Butch Walker is, among traditional musicians (“traditional” here as opposed to the normal kinds of musicians I listen to, who specialize in noise, death industrial, and that sort of thing), one of the best in the business today. Over the past decade and change, he's released half a dozen studio albums under his own name after stints fronting hair-metal band SouthGang in the eighties and Marvelous 3 in the nineties. All of them are sterling; Walker is, as far as I'm concerned, the best lyricist in rock today, which is why he gets paid big bucks to write hits and produce records for bands ranging from indie-rock stalwarts Weezer to Japanese pop tarts Puffy, and stopping off in a lot of places in between. (None of his own work sounds even remotely like the stuff he does working with anyone else. He explains that in the book, almost in an aside.) Listen to a random song from a Butch Walker album released since 2001 and you're pretty much guaranteed gold. Which is why I broke my usual rule against dipping into one of my least favorite genres, the memoir, to read Walker's. Memoirs are the reality TV of the book industry; for every one worth your time, there are a thousand that, like the Necronomicon, will drive you insane if you even open the cover. (It is not, I think, a coincidence that so many reality TV “stars” pen memoirs as a way to continue their fame after the cameras stop rolling for good.) You probably know which of those I was hoping for here. It's a memoir, so the substance of what you get between these covers shouldn't surprise you; in fact, if you're familiar with “Going Back/Going Home”, the second track from Walker's 2008 album Sycamore Meadows, you know the abbreviated version of this story; the book covers the same portion of time as the breakdown in the middle of the song does. This is the feature-length version, with a bit of fleshing out (and some of that you already know if you're familiar with the two live albums he's released, as much of it is covered in between-song banter there). If you're at all familiar with the music industry, you probably know the story by heart anyway; boy in band, band gets signed, record company sucks, band breaks up, boy forms new band... the world has moved on since then (and Walker was one of the first artists to move with it), and the music industry has changed, so there's some nostalgia to be had with that story. Memoirs, however, are never about substance; no one's life story is really as original as they think it is. Memoirs are about style. And so, the obvious question: how does Drinking with Strangers measure up? Fifty pages from the end of this book I would have told you it doesn't. The main problem with it is that it feels like someone with no editorial prowess at all transcribed dictation exactly as it was given. There's a reason editors exist, and getting rid of that sort of thing is a lot of it. It just goes to show, as many teleplay veterans have discovered when turning in their first feature script, mastery of writing in one genre does not equate to mastery of writing in all genres. There are some other problems, mostly with what seems disingenuousness (one cannot reasonably spend five pages talking about idolizing Tom Petty while discussing the writing and subsequent success of “Freak of the Week” in the late nineties and then turn around and on the next page claim to be entirely unaware of The Byrds' “So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star”, a song that found its way back to the airwaves in force in 1986 after being covered by...Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). But, for some reason that may never be explained, the last two chapters of the book take on an entirely different tone, straightforward while still empathetic and friendly. It's almost as if Walker stopped trying so hard and his natural voice kicked in. Those last two chapters buy this book a few years off its time in purgatory. Getting there is a little rough in spots, but if you're a fan, it's worth the trip. ** ½

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    As a memoir, it's solipsistic, plunky like an busted upright piano, and wanders between tender, nerdy, ambling, and benignly scathing. It's quite honest from someone who, by being honest, isn't really shock-shock-shocking you with any deviant behavior (see the loveable Crüe tell-all Dirt). As far as the pacing goes, there's no high-stakes, rising action/denouement fiddle-faddle. Drinking With Strangers is not constructed in any sense. It's simply told chronologically--Georgia, band #1, band #2, As a memoir, it's solipsistic, plunky like an busted upright piano, and wanders between tender, nerdy, ambling, and benignly scathing. It's quite honest from someone who, by being honest, isn't really shock-shock-shocking you with any deviant behavior (see the loveable Crüe tell-all Dirt). As far as the pacing goes, there's no high-stakes, rising action/denouement fiddle-faddle. Drinking With Strangers is not constructed in any sense. It's simply told chronologically--Georgia, band #1, band #2, solo, producer/writer, me now doing both in and around L.A. He annotates some of his song lyrics with certain points in his life, and vice-versa. Some of the chapter epigraphs are his own lyrics. He leaves out some names, hints at others. He's sweet, poignant, and goofy--who he is in his tweets and tumblr blurbs and email blasts and on-stage banter. In short, it's a fair rock-book if you have absolutely no stake in the guy who's telling the story. As for myself personally, I will carry this book around in the papoose called my heart forever and ever and ever. Butch Walker's albums are like the soles of my shoes or my eyebrows. His music is as intimate to my life-goings-on as the thing that's attached to the underside of my tongue. He's my whole sandwich musically, lyrically, attitudinally, career-arc-ly [Ed loses ability to use language]. Here's my pitch: a flip book of Butch's promo shots over the past twenty years (some appear in the requisite glossy photos in the middle) is like watching a lanky dork stand in a wind tunnel of rock-trends--true. BUT he's been truly earnest about his tastes the whole time. THAT is what you come away with from reading his book. No pomp, no prestige, no kiss-my-ass, or woe-es-me: he makes a good living making good records of his own, on his own, in his own way, touring the heck out of them, blogging, nerding out, and producing and writing pop stuff for young pop guns. He does a job he loves in a business he rolls his eyes at/stands aloof from/shakes his tatt'ed fist at. He has a family. He makes money and pays taxes (I imagine). In short, you don't want him to fail. You root for him. You'll care about what happens to him, even without knowing how much he melts faces and hearts as the best live performer short of Morrissey ok I'll shut up. Again, what makes this a nice break from some other rich, turbulent tome on your bedside table: he hasn't a stitch of irony in his delivery. For instance, he admits he likes Elvis Costello because he's a sap and failed like we all would at the random-hotel-elevator-in-LA-dream-opportunity. Now Elvis is a crank, but you learn pretty quick Butch is just too geeky to get a Hollywood-style-win. He writes "rocking like Dokken," but he can play actual songs by Dokken and does live from time to time. Homework for y'all pre-purchase: he covered Taylor Swift's "You Belong to Me," which he recounts in the book, made a YouTube video of him recording all the instruments (complete with bathroom breaks) BECAUSE he thought it was a nifty bit of songwriting he'd heard on the radio. She loved it. See what he's like--if he's someone you want to hang with for a few hours, pick up his book. Then buy all of his records and go to all of his shows and [air banjolin with knee-slide].

  18. 4 out of 5

    Megumi

    First of all, I have been a Butch Walker fan for years; ever since I picked up a copy of his second album, Letters, at a nearly closed-down music store in Japan, I loved every single album, song, anything creative that he put out in this world. So, needless to say, I was really excited to open this book. I was excited to read what he had to say about this whole music-industry-thing that he's been involved in for more than two decades, as a singer-songwriter and also as a producer. No one around First of all, I have been a Butch Walker fan for years; ever since I picked up a copy of his second album, Letters, at a nearly closed-down music store in Japan, I loved every single album, song, anything creative that he put out in this world. So, needless to say, I was really excited to open this book. I was excited to read what he had to say about this whole music-industry-thing that he's been involved in for more than two decades, as a singer-songwriter and also as a producer. No one around me really knows Butch Walker, but they would recognize the songs that he has either written or produced. Reading this book made me realize that, all my life since I started to listen to music that I chose (as opposed to just hearing random music on TV or listening to whatever your parents listened to), I have been basically following his career as a producer - or, he basically shaped my musical taste. In the 8th grade, I was a huge Avril Lavigne fan - and "My Happy Ending" was my go-to song when I had any sort of problems (none of which involved boys, however). I would jam to P!nk's "I'm Not Dead" album with my host family in the U.S. Mid-way through this book I found out that the only song by Tommy Lee that I have on my iPod, called "Good Times," was written and produced by Butch (he even sang in it too). And my recent favorite, Taylor Swift's "Everything has changed," is the only song I really like on her latest album and the only song that Butch worked on in this album. If I had to pick my top 3 favorite musician of all time, I would pick Butch Walker without hesitation, along with McFLY and Busted. This book, however, is not for you if you are looking for an intelligent, well-written, Kurt Vonnegut type of work. He is after all a musician, not a writer. But it is not to say that this book is totally worth reading even for those snobby hipsters. The actual content of his stories was really interesting and insightful: Who else can describe today's (and yesterday's)music industry better or more honestly than Butch Walker? His thoughts on the whole internet and downloading music reminded me of my classmate's Sociology project. In terms of exposure, internet and music downloading help artists like him: because lately the only way to make money is from live shows, as Butch says. His whole experience as SouthGang was a lot of fun to read - it is all too surreal and it was almost like watching a movie like Almost Famous or something like that. The part of touring China made me laugh: just imagine a hair metal band touring around in China in the early 90's, playing for rural Chinese folks who were not allowed to clap or even stand up during the show. Just, too surreal. I rarely write any reviews: so this is an exception. I just wanted to share my excitement of finishing this book, and my fascination with this guy Butch Walker. His new EP came out a couple of days ago - Peachtree Battles - and let me assure you, IT IS GREAT.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    In terms of literature, this is not a good book. It seems as if he didn't have an editor at all. It's very rambling. He reuses (and misuses) words and phrases. He jumps around in time. He repeats stories for no real reason. But in terms of storytelling, this book is badass. This is the show biz memoir I've read in a year and Butch dishes and trash-talks so much more than the other two. There are a lot of wild, crazy rock star stories: taking an illegal helicopter ride with Tommy Lee ("The instant In terms of literature, this is not a good book. It seems as if he didn't have an editor at all. It's very rambling. He reuses (and misuses) words and phrases. He jumps around in time. He repeats stories for no real reason. But in terms of storytelling, this book is badass. This is the show biz memoir I've read in a year and Butch dishes and trash-talks so much more than the other two. There are a lot of wild, crazy rock star stories: taking an illegal helicopter ride with Tommy Lee ("The instant Tommy walks in the room, you love him and he loves you, because he loves everything. He's that guy, with a magnetic personality and a big penis."); hanging out with Nikki Sixx; going waterskiing at night with an injured foot after accidentally smoking crack (and taking codeine and drinking a ton of vodka); all the decadence that comes with being in a hair metal band in L.A. in the '80s. There are also a lot of industry stories about all the managers, label heads, and "Alcohol & Restaurants" (what Butch not-so-affectionately calls "A&R") people who have screwed him over. He names names. I do not think he'll ever again work with Sylvia Rhone (who told Butch, hilariously, when she was heading the label Elektra, "You're Eve 6. You need to just be Eve 6.") or Lindsay Lohan (who is put on blast rather unsurprisingly as a party girl who doesn't sing her own music). The one time he does not name names he makes it pretty obvious who he's talking about: blockbuster hitmaker Dr. Luke, who ripped off a song Butch wrote for Avril Lavigne so that he could turn it into the first single on her Best Damn Thing album, "Girlfriend." Luke would eventually get sued by The Rubinoos for stealing from their song "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend." Unsatisfied with this karmic retribution, Butch would also confront Dr. Luke at a party, scream at him and at least attempt to beat the shit out of him. That was my favorite story in the book. The only word for it is EPIC. Despite his best efforts to the contrary, Butch definitely comes off bitter and jaded, but he's also a survivor, a true artist and a genuine guy. He passionately hates greed and I think he does a pretty good job of showing the reader the difference between what he does and selling out. He doesn't really make music he doesn't believe in. The insight into his creative process is fascinating. I loved learning about the inspiration and meaning behind many of his songs. I am now an even bigger fan of him as an artist and I have even more respect for him as a person. I think the book is interesting even if you're not a fan of Butch's music, but you'll definitely want to check his music out after you read it. I watched a bunch of his old rock videos late last night and laughed my ass off, but I still think he's really cool.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    This book has been on my "to read" list for a pretty long time. I honestly think that the reason I put off reading it for as long as I did is because I am a pretty big fan of Butch's work as both a musician and a producer and I didn't want to read this just to find out that Butch is just another Hollywood jerk who wrote a book complaining that he can't make money anymore in the music industry. The wonderful news is that this book is definitely not that! My first encounter with Butch Walker as an This book has been on my "to read" list for a pretty long time. I honestly think that the reason I put off reading it for as long as I did is because I am a pretty big fan of Butch's work as both a musician and a producer and I didn't want to read this just to find out that Butch is just another Hollywood jerk who wrote a book complaining that he can't make money anymore in the music industry. The wonderful news is that this book is definitely not that! My first encounter with Butch Walker as an artist was when I was around 15 or so and I happened to catch him opening for Avril Lavigne. Yeaaaaaaah I went to an Avril show when I was a teenager. There, it's out. I said it. ANYWAY Butch was the opening act which, at the time, I didn't think anything of. I mean he was a thirty-something solo artist but he could have easily passed (and did in my mind) as twenty-something singer/songwriter. I honestly had no idea that he wasn't just some young, undiscovered artist. I had no idea that I had been listening to his music for years through music that he has written and/or produced with some of the biggest artists and semi-popular bands out there today. Butch has experienced great success and also great failure within the music industry as an artist, a writer and a producer. There is a real science to selling pop music that we as consumers of music don't really think about very often. Highlights of this book include: - Hearing the story of a really popular band who Butch passed up an opportunity to produce because they are awful. I laughed out loud on an Amtrak train when I read this story and discovered who the band was. - A detailed account of working with serious musician, Lindsay Lohan. Yeah. - Following the clues and using internet resources to figure out who the producer Butch refers to as "Larry" actually is. Some background: "Larry" really screwed Butch over when they were working with the same popular female artist and took credit for manipulating a song that Butch and said artist wrote together. "Larry" is a coked-out producer who is notorious for stealing bits of other songs and changing them just enough that he is usually able to avoid legal trouble. You can tell which popular song it was pretty easily from the description in the book and a quick google search will lead you to the producer's name as well as a list of his other work. I highly recommend this book to anyone who finds the music industry interesting. I'll definitely be re-reading it again!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    I have a love/hate relationship with this book. On one hand it liked his straight-up, albeit rough, accounting of his history with rock and roll -- from the his teenage worship of the glam hair bands, eventually getting signed as one himself and then progressing through to production and involvement in the next generation(s). I thought it was great to see him grow & progress both as a man and as a musician. On the other hand, the story if full - nay replete with 'the bad & the ugly', and it's al I have a love/hate relationship with this book. On one hand it liked his straight-up, albeit rough, accounting of his history with rock and roll -- from the his teenage worship of the glam hair bands, eventually getting signed as one himself and then progressing through to production and involvement in the next generation(s). I thought it was great to see him grow & progress both as a man and as a musician. On the other hand, the story if full - nay replete with 'the bad & the ugly', and it's all his (and others) choice. I get to watch him & others live the 'fun at any cost' lifestyle that embodied (embodies?) the 'rockstar' lifestyle and it hurts to see that. Perhaps because I've chosen to live a life completely opposite - but seeing life through his lens at time was quite painful. He ends the book with some powerful phrases - "The bottom line is that music puts a timestamp on your brain from the minute you connect with a song. And it stays with you forever" and "Your youth is the most important thing you will ever have. It's when you will connect to music like a primal urge, and the memories attached to the songs will never leave you."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Allison Renner

    Butch Walker's songs are witty and thought-provoking, and it's no surprise that his book is written in the same style as his lyrics. Drinking with Strangers is a refreshingly honest tale centering on the music industry, but told from Walker's personal point of view. He shares a lot about his life, at times glossing over any substance abuse and marital issues but I didn't have much of a problem with that because it's not some gritty, gossip-y tell-all. He admitted to bad choices he made, like wor Butch Walker's songs are witty and thought-provoking, and it's no surprise that his book is written in the same style as his lyrics. Drinking with Strangers is a refreshingly honest tale centering on the music industry, but told from Walker's personal point of view. He shares a lot about his life, at times glossing over any substance abuse and marital issues but I didn't have much of a problem with that because it's not some gritty, gossip-y tell-all. He admitted to bad choices he made, like working with certain people he should have turned down while passing on projects he could have made a fortune from and becoming materialistic when he let fame go to his head. If you love Walker's music, you will love reading his story, which almost feels like having a conversation with him. For a man with such talent and fame, he is extremely down to earth and doesn't stroke his ego, even though he's certainly earned it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    I just wrote a review of this book and deleted it by mistake...so this second try is short and sweet... ...I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys music...From stories about life on tour and as a musician, to perspectives as a insider in the music industry, and on to opinions about how digital music has changed the music industry, the book an easy-to-read with good flow throughout...I listen to a good bit of music and didn't know of Butch Walker before reading this, but as a result chec I just wrote a review of this book and deleted it by mistake...so this second try is short and sweet... ...I would recommend this book to anybody who enjoys music...From stories about life on tour and as a musician, to perspectives as a insider in the music industry, and on to opinions about how digital music has changed the music industry, the book an easy-to-read with good flow throughout...I listen to a good bit of music and didn't know of Butch Walker before reading this, but as a result checked out some of his stuff...As anyone who reads this book may surmise, if nothing else his music over the years, as a musician and producer, is diverse - I liked some of it and didn't like some of it, but I respect him for his approach, and while, as a memoir, it necessarily lacks some of the outside perspective that can provide context and clarification, taken as it is the book is an interesting and informative read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Whirlwind tour of a professional musician's life from getting turned on by a KISS album at the age of 8 in Cartersville, Georgia to ongoing success as a recording artist, songwriter and producer in Hollywood. The author did finish high school in Georgia, to satisfy his father, but at 17 headed for California with his hair metal band. The book is unsparingly detailed with names of musicians, groups, competitors, landmark performance, collaborators, agents, and the rest of the business side of the Whirlwind tour of a professional musician's life from getting turned on by a KISS album at the age of 8 in Cartersville, Georgia to ongoing success as a recording artist, songwriter and producer in Hollywood. The author did finish high school in Georgia, to satisfy his father, but at 17 headed for California with his hair metal band. The book is unsparingly detailed with names of musicians, groups, competitors, landmark performance, collaborators, agents, and the rest of the business side of the music business. Lots of advice for young musicians, and a very interesting side plot tracking the astounding technical and marketing changes that keep giving the musicians themselves more and more control of the music they make.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Basil

    Four stars instead of five because the lack of editing drove me batshit-crazy; sometimes I yearned for a paragraph that was less than a page long. But whatever. Point is, other than that, this book is fantastic. I already knew I'd love it, since I'm a huge-yet-recent fan of Butch, and there was so much I didn't know about him. And if I was a fan before, I'm an even bigger one now. I give major props to anyone who's willing to call out by name not only the people he loves and respects, but also t Four stars instead of five because the lack of editing drove me batshit-crazy; sometimes I yearned for a paragraph that was less than a page long. But whatever. Point is, other than that, this book is fantastic. I already knew I'd love it, since I'm a huge-yet-recent fan of Butch, and there was so much I didn't know about him. And if I was a fan before, I'm an even bigger one now. I give major props to anyone who's willing to call out by name not only the people he loves and respects, but also the people he really hates. And oh, those stories about playing hair-metal on the Sunset Strip....

  26. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    Butch is, as I always suspected, a guy with some interesting stories to tell. There's a lot here about the past, current, and future state of the music industry, and he certainly doesn't hold back from telling you how he really feels. I most enjoyed the sections on his post-Marv albums and the circumstances/concepts behind them, but I wish he had pulled it a little more forward to "I Liked You Better..." and "The Spade" instead of stopping with "Sycamore Meadows," even though that remains my fav Butch is, as I always suspected, a guy with some interesting stories to tell. There's a lot here about the past, current, and future state of the music industry, and he certainly doesn't hold back from telling you how he really feels. I most enjoyed the sections on his post-Marv albums and the circumstances/concepts behind them, but I wish he had pulled it a little more forward to "I Liked You Better..." and "The Spade" instead of stopping with "Sycamore Meadows," even though that remains my favorite work as an album. The book also could have used a tighter edit, but overall a great read with a unique insider's perspective.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    If your reading this book for a shock, not a good read for you. If you are truley a fan you will enjoy this book. Butch Walker is very talented musician. People have heard him play one way or another, he's a song writer,producer and performer that is very underrated. I knew about Marvelous 3. I did not know he played guitar for Southgang. I vaguely remember them from the late nights of Headbangers Ball. I'm glad he did not get stuck in the "hair metal" rut. He went on to do so many great things. If your reading this book for a shock, not a good read for you. If you are truley a fan you will enjoy this book. Butch Walker is very talented musician. People have heard him play one way or another, he's a song writer,producer and performer that is very underrated. I knew about Marvelous 3. I did not know he played guitar for Southgang. I vaguely remember them from the late nights of Headbangers Ball. I'm glad he did not get stuck in the "hair metal" rut. He went on to do so many great things. He's not for everyone. But I am a huge fan. I felt like I was sitting in a bar listening to his drunken stories.

  28. 4 out of 5

    John

    First of all, I am a huge Butch Walker fan so I was predisposed to like this book. However, I think anyone interested in music and the music industry will enjoy this book. Butch exposes many of the problems within the industry and he adds humor to most of the stories. As a fan, I would have enjoyed some more explanations behind his solo songs, along with some stories from the road with his numerous backing bands. Overall, it was a great music biography which was not loaded with drug addiction. C First of all, I am a huge Butch Walker fan so I was predisposed to like this book. However, I think anyone interested in music and the music industry will enjoy this book. Butch exposes many of the problems within the industry and he adds humor to most of the stories. As a fan, I would have enjoyed some more explanations behind his solo songs, along with some stories from the road with his numerous backing bands. Overall, it was a great music biography which was not loaded with drug addiction. Check out his music too. It is amazing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    This was a really fun, breezy read. He's had an interesting life, this Butch Walker, and I'm glad he's put some of it out there for public consumption. There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, and a lot of "Ohmygosh, he knew *that* guy?!" moments. He writes some lovely things about a lot of artists I like, and saves most of his vitriol for a story about the producer Dr. Luke. He doesn't mention him or the artist in question by name, but it's pretty easy to figure out. I think he could definit This was a really fun, breezy read. He's had an interesting life, this Butch Walker, and I'm glad he's put some of it out there for public consumption. There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, and a lot of "Ohmygosh, he knew *that* guy?!" moments. He writes some lovely things about a lot of artists I like, and saves most of his vitriol for a story about the producer Dr. Luke. He doesn't mention him or the artist in question by name, but it's pretty easy to figure out. I think he could definitely write a "Volume 2", should anyone want him to.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Snem

    I read a lot of musician biographies and autobiographies and it was really good to read one from a self-proclaimed "mid-level artist." It was a very honest critique of the music industry and I loved that. I liked his sense of humor. At times there was a cocky tone and I got the impression he thought very highly of his own work and even his self-deprecating moments were calculated to endear himself to the reader. Definite recommendation for Butch Walker fans and I would also recommend this to any I read a lot of musician biographies and autobiographies and it was really good to read one from a self-proclaimed "mid-level artist." It was a very honest critique of the music industry and I loved that. I liked his sense of humor. At times there was a cocky tone and I got the impression he thought very highly of his own work and even his self-deprecating moments were calculated to endear himself to the reader. Definite recommendation for Butch Walker fans and I would also recommend this to any fans of musician books.

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