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Marvelous 3: ReadySexGo!
I first heard about the Marvelous 3 from Chip Z'nuff of the band Enuff Z'nuff. We were sitting on their tour bus discussing the current music trends and he pointed out that the Marvelous 3 had succeeded in defying the conventional wisdom by doing their own thing. At the time "Freak of the Week", the single from the Marvelous 3's debut album was sitting comfortably in the top 5 on the modern rock radio charts.  Later that week, I went to the record store and bought the "Hey! Album", only to be blown away by not only it's arena rock anthems and heartfelt ballads, but by the remarkable songwriting of Butch Walker. 

When it came time last December to select the best albums of 1999, the "Hey! Album" easily captured the best pop album of the year award here at Rocknworld. 

Being the editor, I don't often get the opportunity to conduct interviews. That task usually falls to our Special Features Editor, Debbie Seagle. But when given the chance to interview Butch from the Marvelous 3, I snagged the assignment out of Debbie's hands. (sorry Deb)

I hope you enjoy the interview. Butch discusses a lot of topics, but I mostly focused my questions on the new Marvelous 3 album, ReadySexGo. It hasn't left my CD player since I got an advanced copy a couple weeks ago. This album only builds upon the great elements of the "Hey! Album" and Butch & company did a remarkable job of dodging the dreaded "sophomore" curse. 

If you haven't discovered this incredible band yet, here is your second chance.

Interview with Butch Walker

RNW: First off congratulations on the new album, I can honestly say it's one of the best new releases I've heard all year.

Butch: Well it hasn't come out yet but it comes out September 12th and I'm really excited about it. This is the most excited I've been about making a record in a long time. 

RNW: I have to ask about the title of the album, ReadySexGo... where did that come from?

Butch: I was looking at a piece of paper that had ready-set-go written on it. Somebody had written it very s***ty. The t was a lowercase t, but it was kind of crooked and it looked like  sex. Of course, you know the first thing my dirty mind honed in on was the word. And I was like, see, that's just typical of a guy. It's typical about how obsessed with sex we all are. And I kind of took it and ran with it and said well there's the album title. Then thought to myself that this is actually kind of reflective of how we are today, right now, when in the 80's everything was so excessive and all about, you know, tits and ass. Then the 90's came along and got all stuffy on us and became very politically correct. But we needed it. We needed awareness. And then all of sudden everyone is tired of that and we're back to letting our hair down and partying and doing it all for the nookie. 

RNW: (laughs)  Yeah we're back to music for people who aren’t all pissed off at the world. 

Butch: Right, you can either take it as sort of a dis or get pissed at the fact that it's being all about gratuitous sex and violence and everything now. Or you can just be like the Marvelous3 and laugh it off. So we're just taking a kind of light hearted poke at it. The album cover has a picture of a scantily clad, slutty looking mannequin with her crotch in the camera with a red, white and blue flag behind her. 

To me that's kind of just my little stab at how fake and plastic rock n roll had become. It's back to the way it always was. And it's just so cyclical, things don't change they just come back around. And this was just my way of saying we don't take it too seriously, obviously. And I'm kind of calling them out for being gratuitous, and I've kind of seen it happen twice in my career. 

RNW:This album is a lot heavier than the last one, did you guys set out to capture the live feel more on this one?

Butch: It wasn't intentional. I think it was just the fact that, my head space on the last record when I was out touring, we were playing a record that I wrote in my living room a year before or six months before anyone even cared. Record Companies weren't around, I was living alone and had a lot of emotions. I think it's more of a sensitive record and I'm very proud of that record, I love it, I love the way it sounds. I love the songs on it. Then we went out and played live and did what we do best, which is put on a rock show. We played these songs in a rock show context and the fans were saying "God I love your record but live you guys are whole other band." And so I said well maybe the next record should be more reflective of how we are live. Now that my head is in a different space writing wise and song wise than it was two years ago. I always wanted to be different, I didn't want it to be the same on every record, that's boring to me. I think everyone changes, everyone goes through changes and there is no reason an artist can't either. And you know, last year was the biggest year of our lives. It was the year we waited for forever. We got the notoriety and respect, got to go out and play live shows. And got to do some fun but superficial things like go on all the late night shows, have a video on MTV and all that crap. It was fun. We toured, made a lot friends, partied a lot on the road. It's reflected I think on this new record. That's just kind of where my head was at. 

RNW: Yeah the Cigarette Lighter Love Song says it all.

Butch: That was the emotional high point for the record. Everybody's been through that scenario, I think. Anyone who’s ever loved and lost love. I wanted to end the record with a power ballad. I was like, it would round out this record great. Make it sort of like a soundtrack with this thicker and tighter power ballad. I didn't have a title for it, so I called it the cigarette lighter love song

RNW: One thing I personally love about your music is the lyrics. 

Butch: Thank you, I try always to write good lyrics. 

RNW: They convey some really strong mental images when you hear them.

Butch: I've always been inspired by other songwriters who can do that and I envied them for it. Everyone from like Fiona Apple all the way back to Elvis Costello can write some amazing lyrics. It's just that I like rockin' too much and those are artists that obviously kick ass at what they do, but nobody has ever tried to fuse that with like heavy guitars and arena rock. I think that's the missing link. It's not like I'm reinventing the wheel or anything but I think it's a good marriage of the two. 

RNW: Do you come up with the lyrics first and then write the music around it?

Butch: A lot of times, yeah. I can't force myself to write so I don't sit down to write. I end up picking up the guitar and being the guitar player at heart and being three times the guitar player when I was sixteen than I am now, obviously I challenge myself everytime I pick it up to be as good as I use to be before I became a songwriter and singer as well, because I used to be just a guitar player. I tend to sit down with a guitar start playing AC/DC and KISS riffs. I lose sight of what I'm doing and I lose my focus, so writing sessions like that don't work for me. I have to be inspired by a lyric or a melody or subject matter that I want to write about or something like that. Usually that stuff comes to me at the most unexpected times. Usually it will come to me while I'm standing in line at McDonald's for a hamburger or driving in my car. Driving with my left foot while writing on my notepad with my left hand. That's kind of the only way I can write, I'm not good at like the "I'll just smoke weed and let it flow". 

RNW:: Not like one of the guys?

Butch: No, I can't 

RNW: Yeah it comes across, the honesty in the music. 

Butch: I appreciate that. 

RNW: So your not like a lot of bands out there right now that go "we're gonna write this one to be an instant hit". I get the impression that you guys go first and foremost "we want to do what sounds right to us. If it succeeds great, if not who cares?"  Is that accurate? 

Butch: That's the truth, it's hard to wanna just have nothing but gratuitous pop radio songs. I love getting our stuff played on the radio and I always want to have that but I want to have variety. Even if that means I've got this song bottled up inside of me that a power ballad but I can't put it on my record because it wouldn't be cool to have a power ballad on your record in the year 2000. To tell you the truth I let those inhibitions go. I've had songs like Radio Tokyo in my head forever. I think to myself, if I do this song on the record I'm taking a chance because it's not like what's on the radio right now but you know, f*** it. It should be about being honest with yourself.

RNW: Right on! Now going back to your lyrics, most of your songs follow in the tradition of the great 70's story tellers like Harry Chapin and Billy Joel except with a rockin' feel.

Butch: Right!Part II



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