As someone who spends his whole day playing the "who does this band sound like and what's the clearest way to translate this easy information to readers" game, I always love it when a band defies those sort of immediate comparisons. No artist, even the most avant-garde, are immune to the influences of the acts that shaped them, but even for many good acts, you can't help but hear a sense of "we want to specifically sound like Band X." The Walk Off
sound like themselves.
Yes, their sound is rooted in blues and garage (and even the faintest hint of jam), but if you asked me to pick a specific band they sound like, I can't name any contemporary peers. It's just good old-fashioned classic blues rock with a tinge of 90s reverbed out garage. We had a chance to talk to the band about their debut EP, A Likely Story
, and their killer alternative guitar rock track, "That Way." Here's a spoiler alert. These kids can shred.
When listening to your album, I can't help but feel nostalgic. At the same time, however, I can't quite put my finger on how or why that is. I can point out to some 90s rhythm and blues, some catchy early 2,000-esque hooks, and then some 70s guitar solos that blur the lines for any definitive genre. What sort of listening experiences did you imagine for your fans?
The Walk Off: As a band the three of us come from very different and also very diverse musical backgrounds. That in mind, we have a very ADD approach to our writing style. I have always felt that it would be a bit of a cop-out to put out a generic indie record solely synthesized from the sounds of our contemporaries, so music that I grew up with often takes precedent when influencing our sound. I also am hell-bent on making the guitar solo cool again, because for the life of me I still can't exactly pin down the appeal of having someone like, say, Pitbull recite a shoddily-put-together verse in the middle of another artist's song exclusively to pull in a more mainstream audience. Granted, that's a bit of an extreme alternative but you get the idea.
In terms of the listening experience, I love the notion of a music listener sitting down with a song the first time and getting that tip-of-my-tongue feeling upon trying to figure out what's familiar to them in the tune. Pop music in general (as a broad phrase encompassing all popular music, not just the specific genre) has endured because of its most passionate and innovative artists taking what audiences truly relate to and identify with and repackaging those core values in the context of their own style. Take Nirvana; Cobain as a songwriter had an obsession with pop music and structure, and its ability to stick in the heads of listeners, but combined that with his own punk rock ideals and a very abrasive sound to create an album, Nevermind, that changed the face of popular music as we know it. We're not going to claim to be anywhere near the level Nirvana was at during that time, but I'd say that's a fair comparison to what we're going for as a band.
I've always loved catchy pop hooks and structure, but my love of funk, R&B and alternative music come together to provide a pretty eclectic exterior for our music when I'm writing songs. I want someone to listen to our record and have fun trying to pin down exactly what about each song is familiar and resonates with them, while appreciating the original sound we ourselves bring to the table.
Your songs vary pretty starkly in style and sound throughout the EP, A Likely Story. Was this the plan for the EP from the get go, or was this something that evolved as the creative process commenced?
The EP was less of a planned project and more of a case of, "We've been a band for two months and have enough songs for a short record, let's do this!" Like I said in response to the previous question, our influences are so starkly diverse from one another that we were able to just come together and let creativity do its thing. Each song came about from an entirely different place or idea, and I kind of like that about the EP. When writing songs, my mind is so split down the middle that I didn't feel the need or want to pin us down to a single sonic category. Instead, we chose to let our separate musical personalities and my chosen lyrical style provide the consistency, and let the music explore itself and branch off wherever it was going to go. I'm pretty satisfied with the result. That being said, like anyone else who's ever put out their own music I can listen to the record and point out what we could have done better. We're constantly growing as musicians and writers, but A Likely Story
is a very honest and candid snapshot of our band's dynamic at the time of recording. Self-criticism nonwithstanding, I wouldn't have it any other way.
In the single "That Way," there's a seeming uncertainty in the narrator's next steps in life, love, and direction. Could you elaborate on the inspiration behind the rawness of this particular lyrical direction?
If I'm going to be honest, we chose "That Way" as a single more due to its indicative nature of our style and dynamic rather than lyrical weight. That song actually predates The Walk Off; I wrote a very bare-bones version of it in high school playing in a few different bands. "That Way" and also "Oh Well" are meant to capture the lens a teenager sees his or her romantic endeavors through. When you're of that age and everything around you is changing so fast, any particular event that sort of messes with your emotional consistency or disposition is bound to grab your attention, no matter how much it's actually going to change anything. I was never much of a ladies' man in high school, but of course at the time I thought that was a huge shortcoming and always kind of beat myself up for it. Those songs are supposed to kind of satirically poke fun at the BS I used to tell myself in the wake of less-than-ideal encounters with the opposite sex. To address your question, the narrator of "That Way" (teenage me) probably just needs to relax and get over himself a little bit. That's when life, love and direction will all fall into place and he'll end up in a band with two insanely talented dudes and write some cool songs.