An Interview with Butch Walker of
The Marvelous 3 have ditched the shine, glam, and glitz of the Floyds, and have returned to the business of making dangerously fun, fantastically entertaining rock n’ roll. Butch Walker is a superstar in the purest of forms. When he takes the stage, you feel like you’ve been transported into another world, where the joy of music is still alive and well, and all the crap that’s come in between and since never happened at all. The Marvelous 3 are an amazing roller coaster of screams and kicks, and judging from the new record, the fun has only just begun.
Your new record, Ready Sex Go, has just hit the shelves, you’re about to embark on a nationwide tour, and the whole fate of the M3 could lay in the lap of this record’s success or failure. What’s going through your mind right now?
I’m not really thinking about anything but getting this tour going. We’re spending a lot of time concentrating on what we do best, which is touring, playing live, and taking it up a notch. This time we’re really concentrating on giving our fans a show, because that’s what we’ve cultivated our audience from, playing live shows. We pride ourselves on that, being one of the better live bands out there. Because if you pride yourself on being a radio band, and next time around, radio disses you and doesn’t play your shit anymore because you’re not the flavor of the month, that’s the wrong long-term goal to have. Sure, I want my songs on the radio, I would love to have a career like Bruce Springsteen or Elton John, but that just doesn’t happen for rock bands anymore, because everything is too disposable.
So what do you think is going to make RSG any less disposable?
I can’t say that our record is going to sell a million copies or if it’s going to tank, because it’s a flaky-ass industry. They don’t know what they want from month to month. Last month they wanted bands that sounded like Fastball and [the] Goo Goo Dolls, this time around they want bands that play hunched over with seven-string guitars and have DJs. At this point, I don’t think we fit into any one of those molds.
So where do you think the Marvelous 3 fit?
When we came out a year or two ago, we were like these old-school rock guys that grew up on arena rock. We went out and screamed at audiences, got them into the show, got them waving their hands in the air, waving cigarette lighters, and gave them a rock show. Then you’ve got the alternative-rock band that would turn its back to the audience, play a song, and be too serious. Or the bands out there that are just yelling “yeah, motherfucker, yeah,” the whole hip-hop rap-metal trend that’s big right now. And I put the emphasis on trend, because once we have one of those bands, there are 50 bad ones that follow. And, unfortunately, I don’t think we really are different from a lot of bands, I just have a voice about it and speak out about it. Maybe I’m reaching enough people through the luxury of having a record out and a song or two on the radio that I can make a voice and make it be heard. And as far as where we fit, I don’t know if we fit in anywhere. That’s why I mainly want to just get out on the road and support this record old-style, which is gain fans the old-fashioned way. We go out there and we play with these bands that are either on the radio or they’re not. We’re going to do our best to pummel everybody we can down with our live show. That makes them want to own our record and come back and see us again, and basically, that’s just another form of grass-roots following and promoting your band. We’ve got an audience out there that doesn’t give a shit if we’re on the radio or not. They’re going to come see us because they know they’re going to get a rock show.
Currently you’ve got a song you co-wrote for SR-71 in the top five. Do you see yourself writing for other bands, other genres, or is your main objective the Marvelous 3?
To tell you the truth, I could care less if I wrote a country hit or a Top 40 hit. I’m not going to be like, “oh, I’m only going to write for rock,” that’s not my goal. I could have a song on Top 40 country radio, and you wouldn’t even know it. So as far as that goes, there’s a good living to be made in that and producing. I can do both and plan on doing both. But right now, my main focus is getting my band out there and making the Marvelous 3 my top priority for the next six months to a year, or as they say, the life of the record.
Speaking of the life of a record, that seems to get shorter all the time with the current Napster craze. Do you think in this age of technology that it’s even possible to achieve the rock-star status that seems to be lost in 1979?
I try not to think about it, because back in the day, a band could sell a million records and everyone knew your name — Kiss, Styx, Bon Jovi. Now you could sell two million records, and nobody knows what your fucking name is. No one can even name the lead singer. It’s all about one disposable rock song, where it used to be about a band going out and building an audience. We have to come up with another way, and I think the Internet is going to be our catalyst. We’re coming up with another way to change the music business. It’s already fucking up record companies left and right, because they’re so scared of the change, because it’s fucking up the way they make the dollar. They’ve been the ball hog for years, and now they’re about to get screwed. Back in the day, we didn’t have radios in our cars, and the Internet is another form of radio. Back then, radio was a big deal, record companies thought radio was going to kill the record industry, because everyone was going to sit at home and listen to the radio instead of buy records. The Internet just opens up more minds to more things. If you’re a fan of music and you like the record, you’ll buy it because you want to own it, you want a piece of it. The Internet isn’t going to kill music. What’s going to kill music and desensitize everything is bad fans and B-grade versions, bad A&R guys making bad judgment calls, signing shit bands that don’t have shit for talent anymore and can’t write good songs.
You’ve been through this rock n’ roll machine before. As a result of the experience that you’ve had in the industry, what are you trying to do different this time around?
I’m really not trying to change anything. I’m trying to follow my own path, which is to try not to be trendy or worried or what is hip now, because it’s going to be gone six months from now. It’s no secret that the labels are kind of a necessary evil. I’m sounding like I’m some holier-than-thou rocker. I’m not. We have a lot of friends in this business, we’re all for the whole communal thing that needs to happen more instead of it being so segregated and being all about hating every other band except yours. I’m not like that, I’m more outspoken about my opinions on the industry. It will change eventually, but it may not be anytime soon, so the best thing to do is just march to the beat of your own drum.