Butch Walker has been a part of my life for the better part of it at this point, and his first foray into the literary world hits the highlights - and a few of the lowlights - that explain why. Yeah, I was a teenage metalhead too (and I still love my metal). I fondly recall seeing SouthGang more than a few times, and still listen to their records when the mood strikes. I was ga-ga over Marvelous 3. Still am. Butch's solo records are, each and every one of them, the best album to have come out in each of the respective years that they were released, in my opinion. His latest, 'The Spade' Spade is not just the best thing I've heard this year, it's the best record I've heard in the past 10 years at least. When the latest tour kicked off in Athens, GA, earlier this year, I was there. I traveled out for the shows in Atlanta and Nashville too. Butch is worth it, no question.
But a book... what to think? Rock star autobiographies made for great reading when I was a teenager. I couldn't get enough of 'Hammer Of The Gods' or 'No One Here Gets Out Alive', and must've read each of them half a dozen times. Sleazy antics, larger-than-life tales of excess, glamorization of... what, exactly? It all made sense back then, but seems stupid today. I hadn't read one in years. YEARS. Thankfully, this book doesn't (for the most part) travel down that well-worn path. 'Drinking With Strangers' is a memoir, sure. It covers a bit of Butch's days as a young and reckless teenager, features a few decadent tales from his time on the Sunset Strip during the 'hair metal' heyday of the early 90s, and delves into some intense and personal stories about his personal life, his time spent writing with and producing other bands, and his personal struggles with the music business (and life itself). But this book is so much more than just a memoir. It should be required reading for aspiring musicians, with its exceptional insight about the crooks and weasels that permeate the music/entertainment industry and for Butch's unflinching admissions of how many times he's screwed himself over in the business.
Ultimately, 'Drinking With Strangers' is a mandatory read for Butch Walker fans - he explains why he doesn't play the songs so many want to hear anymore, the true inspiration behind many fan-favorites, and the real stories behind the beginnings, middles, and ends of all of his projects - and is highly recommended to everyone else. Even those who are not familiar with his name have heard songs that Butch has written, produced, sang or played on, or in some other way been involved with. Butch Walker is something of an American music Everyman in many ways, but even more so, he is a true original, a uniquely talented man with a gift too big to be contained. I'll never stop buying (yes, BUYING) Butch's music. I'll never stop going to his shows. And if he writes another book, I'll buy and read that too. Why? Because Butch Walker is f***ing amazing, and this book contains 20+ years' worth of stories proving that point.