Butch Walker's third solo album, The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker & the Let's-Go-Out-Tonites, was recorded in two weeks. As one of the busiest producers in rock, he doesn't have much time to play his own music. Over the past several months, he's been in the studio with Avril Lavigne, Hot Hot Heat, the All-American Rejects, Pete Yorn, the Academy Is and Pink. "I don't get to tour as much as I used to," he admits in a phone interview.
The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker is not a raw, stripped-down exercise. Modeled after David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, it is loud and bombastic, with lots of multi-tracked harmonies and hammy riffs that mimic the best of 1970s rock. For example, the opening track, "Ooooh ... Aaah ... ," has shades of the Rolling Stones' "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)" and T.Rex's "Bang a Gong (Get It On)."
If Ziggy Stardust left Bowie lurching toward the audience in "Rock & Roll Suicide," asking them to save his life, then "Rich People Die Unhappy" finds Walker sitting alone in a mansion as a glammed-up godfather. Both discs deal with the perils of abusing stardom as a cure-all for loneliness, but The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker espouses resignation instead of despair with its highs and lows. When this impression is suggested to Walker, he responds, "I don't think I was trying to get as conceptual with it, but it definitely sequenced that way, I think.
"I wasn't trying too hard to make some sort of neo-concept record based on a Bowie Spiders from Mars thing. But just because the songs are so autobiographical in some aspects, it has sort of that telling a story from A to B, for sure," he continues. "I don't want it to be a shallow record. I never do that. Being a singer-songwriter first and foremost, you really want to go through a lot of peaks and valleys."