"I used to be a gear junkie and have NASA behind me," says Marvelous 3 guitarist Butch Walker. "But my dick grew, and then, once it did, I had less desire to drive fancy cars and use big rigs."
Don't let him kid you. Atlanta's Marvelous 3 may have snuck into the ranks with an alternative pop sound reminiscent of Cheap Trick (their first single "Freak of the Week" hit the top five at Modern Rock Radio), but the bands real influences are all those BIG names Walker downplayed once the Nirvana brigade had taken hold.
"What got me into this in the first place was listening to Queen and Motley Crue and Journey and Kiss and all these bands," he admits. "I appreciated a lot of elements of the tacky '80s and the tacky '70s."
And those elements are in abundance on ReadySexGo, the bands major label sophomore outing. The wall of guitar is solid, the riffs glistening. The band's liner notes even concede to a Def Leppard wall-of-sound vocal fetish.
"I've had it up to my ass in indie records, raw organic productions," says Walker. "I made those all through the '90s. I tried to kid myself for a while that I was an indie boy, but I grew up listening to fucking Journey."
Walker has all types of recording gear at his disposal. He keeps a home studio (RubyRedRecording) stocked with a 2-inch Studer 24-track and an elaborate Pro Tools set-up where the majority of the album was recorded. He knows inspiration can hit at any time and he intends to be ready.
"I really like when I'm driving, I'm humming and it naturally turns into melodies and rhymes," he says. "It's usually something that starts with a rhythmic lyric pattern and then I just fall in. I turn the radio off. I'll go back to my house and pull the guitar out and put some chords behind it. I'd probably come up with better guitar riffs if I sat around and dicked around on guitars all day."
Maybe so, but he's no slouch on the fretboard. Walker recently switched from Gibson to a Paul Reed Smith McCarty model since jumping around the stage and staying in tune are equally important to him. It's the same reason he's hooked up a Bradshaw system to coordinate his pedals. "I like to run more than one at a time and I like to spend more time performing and putting on a show than stepping on pedals all day," he says.
He loves his SuperFuzz, however, he's strictly a reliable BOSS man on the road (calling them the "Ford of pedals") -- using a Boss Dimension C Chorus, a Silver Fuzz, a DD-5 Digital Delay, a Harmonizer for octaves and a Super Overdrive for leads. There's no shortage of power concerning his amp choices either -- a Mesa/Boogie Nomad, a Bogner Triple Ecstasy and the VHT PitBull.
For Walker, the guitar is the key to man's existence. "Pressing play [on a sampler] is not an art form," he says. "I went to see Kiss when I was eight years old and it changed my life forever because of the guitar. I don't see kids having their lives changed by a turntable."
His firm technical grip doesn't mean he grasps the slippery slope of creativity, however. One of ReadySexGo's best tunes, "Cigarette Lighter Love Song," came to him after he thought the album was finished. The band had gone to L.A. to mix, but the tune's main melody kept dancing through in Walker's brain.
"I had the song idea for a long time," he says. "And I had the lyrics and I just thought it was a kick-ass love song. I wanted to end the album on just this big anthem, arena rock chorus thing. I was looking forward to having this big cigarette lighter power ballad round out the record. I just thought how great the melody was for the lyrics I had."
The only problem with this distinctive melody was that it came straight from David Bowies tune "All the Young Dudes," made popular by Mott the Hoople. Walker knew what he had to do. "I called up Bowie and he was all good with it. He loved the song. I didn't want to get bit in the ass later for it. I did recognize it and it's there in the credits. Its not that I deny stealing. Its tastefully borrowing and giving credit where credit's due. That's my tribute to that era of Mott the Hoople, T Rex, Bowie, Ziggy, Iggy....it became a great way to round out the record."