Artist of the Week Band of the Week

Artist of the Week: PT Walkley

Last week, PT Walkley released his sophomore album, Thriller. The follow-up to his standout debut Mr. Macy Wakes Alone, his latest LP demonstrates his continued versatility.

The composer, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist produced and recorded the 10-track album himself. A unique collection of electro-pop songs with quirky musical accompaniment bound to make the listener sit up and pay attention, Walkley showcases his originality.

“On Thriller I wanted to keep the tracks more sparse and let the songs stand naked a bit,” Walkley said. “There’s a certain one-of-a-kindness about doing it all yourself in your living room. When I’m working alone at all hours of the night, I’m more likely to tap into a completely pure, uninhibited creative space.”

And that he does on Thriller.

The soothing “The Way That You Are” begins the LP with an atmospheric vibe and Walkley’s ethereal vocals. With a steady drumbeat, kazoo accompaniment, electric guitar and distinct futuristic tendencies, the song stands out. The darker “Go Away” follows suit with ear-grabbing music and Walkley’s memorable effervescence. Despite the tongue-in-cheek lyrics, Walkley’s playfulness shines through.

“The Way That You Are” by PT Walkley from Jade Harris on Vimeo.

Next track, “The Marriage of Mice” slows things down with soft acoustic guitar finger picking and delicate keyboards before segueing into the quirky “The Only Reply.” While “Summer Song” sounds like a mix of an island get-a-way and one’s childhood with Casio player accompaniment, the instrumental “The Purpose of a Skunk” leads the listener into the danceable “If I Were British (Sing Along).”

While the beautiful “I’m A Snob” and instrumental “Mellotronic Growth Plate” showcases Walkley’s more serious side, 32-second last track “A Little Better” ends the LP on a high note. With hand clapped rhythms, kazoo accompaniment and a chorus in the background, the song leaves the listener wanting to hit that repeat button. And, for Walkley that’s a good thing.

Related Links:
Q&A with PT Walkley
PT Walkley Impresses at Album Release Show
PT Walkley Offers Versatility On Three-Song EP
Song of the Week: “The Lucky Ones”
CD Reviews

PT Walkley Offers Versatility on Three-Song EP

PT Walkley is an artist who needs to be witnessed live. The first time I caught him in concert, I covered the show for Filter and was truly in awe. It was his record release and he had nearly a full orchestra of musicians and backup singers perfecting each song on his album from start to finish.

Having opened for Coldplay at Madison Square Garden, performed at All Points West and had his music featured in several commercials and films, Walkley has proven his staying power as a songwriter and performer. His latest three song EP (which he handed out to all in attendance at a recent show at Joe’s Pub) will be showcased in Ed Burns’ upcoming movie, “Nice Guy Johnny.” The film premiers April 23rd at Tribeca Film Festival.

A slight departure from his previous release, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone, the three songs provide a much more upbeat rock sound. “What’s What” kicks off the release with gritty guitar and seductive vocals. With additional piano and percussion accompaniment and Walkley’s catchy “woah-oh-oh’s” the listener is captivated right away.

“Something Else” switches gears and is more of a tongue-in-cheek love ballad. With quirky lyrics demonstrating the roller coaster tale of a relationship, Walkley intrigues. “Oh how we used to fight/We’d shout out loud ’til the laryngitis came in/You weren’t my type/I didn’t float your boat/I was broke and you were broken,” Walkley sings at the start of the song. However, by the stories end, the character seems to have changed his tune. “Love is alive and well/Something else, something more/So much better than it was before,” he concludes. With fast-paced percussion and Walkley’s energetic vocals it’s impossible to not tap your foot along by the song’s close.

Last track on the EP, “The Radio,” featuring The Blue Jackets is a much edgier rock sound than previously heard from Walkley. A track questioning the impact of radio and tastemakers, the song’s aggression impresses. It perhaps is fitting then, that he name drops well known songs and musicians like Billy Joel and “Billie Jean” within the same line. “If you ain’t Billie Jean or Billy Joel you’re gonna come and go/On the radio, radio, radio,” he sings. In the end, the song begs the question: Who is to say what belongs on the radio?

For more on PT Walkley, visit his Web site. You can listen to “What’s What,” “Something Else,” and “The Radio” on MySpace.

Related Links:
Q&A; with PT Walkley
Song of the Week: “The Lucky Ones”
PT Walkley Impresses at Album Release Show
All Points West: Music, Mud Wrestling, and Beer Gardens


PT Walkley, Greg Holden and Ian Axel Perform at Joe’s Pub Tonight

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

Quite possibly my favorite thing about being a music journalist is discovering new bands before they make it big. Whether my coverage precedes a write-up in Rolling Stone or a song being placed in hit TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, in a way it helps confirm that my music taste is ahead of the curve. Or, so I’d like to think!

I’m excited tonight to be catching three sets at Joe’s Pub, two of which are bands I’ve already covered and interviewed. Feel free to follow along on Twitter as I’ll be reviewing the show live. And, if you haven’t yet, check out my interview with Greg Holden here and PT Walkley here. For more on each artist, you can find their MySpace below.

PT Walkley on MySpace.
Greg Holden on MySpace.
Ian Axel on MySpace.

Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “The Lucky Ones”

Many of you may remember PT Walkley from my interview with him at All Points West this past summer. He just completed a video for “The Lucky Ones,” currently my favorite song off his debut album, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone. Watch it below and if you like what you hear, be sure to catch him live in New York next Thursday at Bowery Electric.


Festivals Interviews

PT Walkley

Photo Credit: Wendy Hu

A versatile songwriter, PT Walkley has penned scores for numerous Ed Burns films, popular commercials such as MasterCard and GE, as well as his recent debut solo release, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone. An intriguing album, the storyline follows three main characters – Audrey Macy, a spoiled trust fund kid who plots her father’s murder, Calvin the Coroner, an aspiring singer-songwriter infatuated with Audrey, and Mr. Macy, Audrey’s father and evil record executive.

Walkley has said he hopes to bring back cover to cover listening and seemingly does so, as the characters and themes on each track intermingle throughout the album. I met with Walkley at All Points West and learned about his writing process, the tales behind his music and his view on performing: “If the core of the song is good, it’ll translate.”

Do you prepare differently for a festival than your own show?
Well, we definitely wanted to do the most singalong able songs. Anything with a lot of “la-la-la’s” and “oh’s and ah’s” and one word hooks like “Somebody” has. A lot of times the set can get a little mellow, which works in some environments, but when you’re trying to appeal to a bunch of people you want to rock a little more. We had a bunch more in the set, but today it was running a couple hours late so we only got to do a portion of the set, which was still great. We had a good time.

Do you feel the crowd was receptive?
Yeah. I think the crowd was locked up for hours and hours and were just ready to hear any music they could, so we got the benefit of that. By the time we went on, people were just ready to listen and have a good time.

What’s going through your head while you’re performing onstage?
Usually, it’s “Don’t screw up,” anything from that to really trying to engage with the crowd and getting into the performance and connect back to the song. At this point, you performed it so many times that sometimes you’re just running through the motions and hitting the notes or not. Connecting back to the core of the song is the important thing.

Tell me about your latest release, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone. I read in an interview that you wanted to bring back cover to cover album listening.
I had access to all these great players and I had a lot of bigger ideas floating around in my head with string quartets and crossing the genres of country, pedal steel and all the instrumentation that goes along with all the different styles. I wanted to somehow harness all of that and tie it together with a little storyline so I did that with Audrey Macy, Calvin and the Mr. Macy storyline.

The trick was to try to give it one voice throughout even though it kind of goes all over the place. I’m happy with the way it came out. I think it really worked. We put a little intro and it has the button lift and “Somebody” melody and string arrangement at the end, which was the final cherry on top where I was like, “Okay, now I think it’s a concept record.”

How did you come up with the three main characters throughout the album?
I came up with this Audrey Macy character. I think that was first. She was based on an amalgamation of different people that I’ve met and some fiction too. A spoiled brat kid who hatches the evil plan to kill her rich Daddy. And then it was like, who is the rich Daddy and why would she kill this guy? Calvin the Coroner was just a throwaway line, she pays off Calvin the Coroner to get what she wants and then I elaborated into that. Then it spun into he was infatuated with her as a kid so he’ll do anything. He assumes, “Oh, she’ll come back some day” but she comes back to pay him off. He must be thinking, “Oh, I knew you’d come back,” but it’s really that she wants to bribe him. It’s important for me to tape these things. I’ll just spout out ideas and play and free form songs and take the good stuff and let the garbage go out the window.

You’ve written music for Ed Burns’ films and commercials. How is the process different writing an album vs. a 30-second commercial spot?
The assignments are always a lot easier when there is definite direction. It’s like, “Okay it should have this feel” and the commercials are really fun that way because you get to do a lot of different styles. That learned me the different genres a little bit. Whether it’s dance stuff or orchestral arrangements or mariachi band version of this. Sometimes you get crazy direction from clients. The assignment is usually fairly easy to cover, but figuring out what I really want to do and if it’s something I’m really going to be proud of and make my own sound is sort of hard to land on sometimes. That can take a long time.

How did you originally get into music?
You know, it was kind of late in the game. I think my parents got me a guitar when I was 15 and I took one lesson and was like, “Oh, that’s kind of like homework. I don’t want to do that.” So, I put it under the bed for a few years and then I picked it up again in college and started playing along to old Velvet Underground records and things that are easy enough for a beginner to feel like he actually knows how to play. Then it just spun from there. I started in a band in college just playing guitar and once I moved to New York I had a landslide of ideas and it just never stopped. I try to be as productive as I can. It’s good to have different avenues for all those things because all the ideas need homes, whether they’re goofy, kazoo melodies that I would never release on a record or something deep and meaningful. I feel lucky to have all the different outlets.

Do you feel a song comes out better when it actually happened to you?
Yeah, I think so. I think it has more lasting. Sometimes you can capture a character and you’re happy to sing. It’s always good when it comes from a real place. My life’s not incredibly interesting, so I try to get creative when I can. We’ve all been through some shit, so it’s good to tap into that and when you do you’ve got something really good.

Are you ever afraid to reveal too much because the person you’re singing about might be in the crowd?
I was for a while. I was just having fun with melodies and throwing out words that sounded good together. I have this other band, The Blue Jackets, and that’s fun, it’s more of a rock band and then I put out this Track Rabbit album a couple years ago. But this album, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone, even though it’s mostly character based, there is a lot of me in there. I really wanted to go inside a little more and reach from personal experience. Even in the fictional songs, I would use those characters to speak for, like a ventriloquist dummy. There is some of me in all those songs.

Chris Martin originally heard you sing wi
th your band The Blue Jackets and had you open for Coldplay.

Yeah, through Ed Burns. We had been friends for a while, I had been doing the scores for his movies and I started a side band and it started getting more and more serious. We got offered the spot to open for Coldplay and it was unbelievable. It was at Madison Square Garden. Through that I’ve gotten to know Chris a little bit. He and Eddie are friends. So yeah, that was my first brush with them and tonight I’m looking forward to seeing them again. To see how they’ve come along, I hear they’re doing well [Laughs].

What’s your advice to aspiring musicians?
It sounds so corny at this point, but God, just believe in yourself and keep going. A lot of things come your way and it’s real easy to give up. There’s going to be a lot of crappy days and a lot of things that don’t work out but if you know you’re good, you usually figure that out at some point and just keep going.

For more on PT Walkley, be sure to visit him on MySpace and if you’re in New York or D.C., catch one of his shows in the upcoming weeks.

You can also read this interview on

Concert Reviews

PT Walkley Impresses at Album Release Show

On the night of his album release, PT Walkley entertained a packed Blender Theater audience by playing his debut album Mr. Macy Wakes Alone track by track in its entirety. With a full band – at times reminiscent of an orchestral arrangement — Walkley conducted the band with the simple nodding of his head. From backup singers to string arrangement, Walkley’s showcase was one not to be missed.

Perhaps the most versatile musician I’ve seen in concert, Walkley’s voice changed drastically from song to song. One example is the mere difference from second song “Why,” where he exercised a softer, more angelic voice complete with fitting string and horn accompaniment, and then made the shift to the deeper and edgier track “No One Needs To Know” — and that was just in the first 10 minutes of his set.

What makes Walkley stand out from other up-and-coming musicians is the content of his album. He has said in interviews that he hopes to bring back cover-to-cover listening and seemingly does so, as the characters and themes on each track intermingle throughout Mr. Macy Wakes Alone. His publicity is doing pretty well, especially after being hand picked by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin to open their Madison Square Garden show.

Not your average singer-songwriter, Walkley has also composed music for several Ed Burns films as well as had his music placed in numerous commercials including MasterCard and GE. With so much varied musical exposure, his diversity in concert no longer seems all that surprising, but continues to impress concertgoers as heard from the screams and applause after each song’s end.

With string, horn, percussion and continuous guitar and backup vocals, Walkley’s set did not disappoint. Slower ballad “Coming Over” showcased his deep and trance-like vocals. With the complement of a harp, the concertgoer had the relaxed vibe of being on a tropical island, easily picturing palm trees swaying in the background. Always quick to change the mood from song to song, next track was energetic “The Lucky Ones.” The song featured Walkley’s wife Michelle on infectious backing vocals. Their voices blended beautifully together, and the light musical accompaniment fit well, never overpowering the song’s main vocals and narration.

While “Evolution” sounded almost planetary at times, “Calvin the Coroner” had a carnival-esque feel to it. With a faster piano introduction and crescendo of Walkley’s vocals at the end of each line, the song is quirky with lyrics, “When Calvin was a boy there was a lot to comprehend/A high imagination but he never had a friend/His father bought the funeral parlor just around the bend from the Macy’s/He helped around the basement and he swore he’d never tell/He couldn’t stand the bodies but he grew to like the smell/Formaldehyde and suicide were words that came too well to a young boy.”

Before playing upbeat track, “Audrey Macy” Walkley introduced the song by saying, “This song is about a murder and a girl named Audrey Macy.” A captivating tale of a trust fund girl who is never satisfied, she eventually kills her father to inherit money he already has spent, thus forcing her to work the rest of her life. Yet another example of Walkley’s versatility, with fitting electric guitar and percussion, the music only assisted him to tell the story effectively.

With rave album reviews and having recently opened for Coldplay, PT Walkley has definitely been making a name for himself. Setting the bar well beyond most musicians these days, Walkley begs the listener to pay attention to every detail of his performance and album as the recurring themes and characters only make sense when listening cover to cover. Definitely an ambitious musician, Walkley is breaking the mold of the music industry as we know it today, and it would behoove every music lover to give him a listen.

You can read this review, originally posted on Filter here. For more on PT Walkley, be sure to visit his MySpace.