WALTER EGAN
Myth America
(Classic Music Vault)

 

Back in 2010, singer-songwriter / pop legend Walter Egan released a well received album called Queens’ English, recorded with The Malibooz, his pop-rock band with fellow guitarist and songwriter John Zambetti. A few years later, in 2014 Walter is back in the solo artist spotlight with a most welcome CD of new songs called Myth America. From his 2014 interview with mwe3.com, Walter Egan explains, 'I think our country, and probably the world, is in some very tenuous times these days. Perhaps the somewhat somber nature of Myth America is a product of these times, it’s hard to say. A songwriter sees the world, digests it and then attaches it to a catchy tune. All artists are a product of their times in one way or another. I didn’t write these songs, do this album as some kind of diatribe though. Myth America is very much my personal journey living in the now (and then).' In the spirit of The Malibooz, Walter’s Myth America features a broad range of sweeping 21st century pop-rock anthems infused with a solid Americana music edge. Recorded in Tennessee, Myth America represents the best aspects of Walter’s pop-rock approach, packed with a few solid sonic surprises. Featuring Walter performing a number of fretboard instruments, backed up by drumming ace Ron Krasinski, Myth America sounds very much on par with the classic pop-rock realm inhabited by legends like Roger McGuinn, Warren Zevon and Tom Petty while the lead off track “Faith Comes Crashin’ Down” sounds true enough to be a track on Roger McGuinn’s 2004 Limited Edition CD. (Listen up Roger!) An eclectic pop spin start to finish, Myth America is tastefully written, produced and recorded with Walter Egan’s pop-centric imagination front and center. www.WalterEgan.com


mwe3.com presents an interview with
WALTER EGAN



mwe3
: What was your inspiration and musical goal for the Myth America CD? Is the lead off track “Faith Comes Crashing Down” symptomatic of song of the world’s problems in 2014? Seems like a rousing a way to start off the CD.

WALTER EGAN: Myth America is the fruition of a few years recording and song writing. As with all my albums the goal was really only to present my current take on my life and the world as it is or as I see it, from my American point of view. The project is the result of 8 and 16 track recordings done in my home studio with my longtime drummer, Ron Krasinski, who is one of the best for my money. The recordings were given life when Mike Somavilla heard them last August 2013 and thought they needed to be released. I had given him approximately 35 songs which he passed on to Dean Sciarra of Classic Music Vault Records. From the 35, Dean and I eventually settled upon the 13 on the CD. The sequencing was largely driven by Dean’s input. He believes “Faith...” is the strongest song and so wanted it to be first. It is really a song by someone (me) who has been raised a Catholic responding to the scandals in the church which have been surfacing. I might have chosen a song with less controversial content but I am happy with the album as constituted now. Thinking about it I think that you are right and the words could apply in a more general way to the larger world picture.

mwe3: Things mellow out with track two “Cool Crazy”, which has one of the greatest hooks I’ve heard in a long while! Is that track sort of a longing to go back to our childhood and the innocence of the 1950’s and early 1960s? What is the San Vicente median connection?

WALTER EGAN: Ha! You have been listening to the words. As the man known for “Magnet and Steel” I felt no qualms about bringing back the feel of my hit for a new century. The content is a bit tongue in cheek, as I am wont to do... and is really about an enduring love and a reflection upon the “craziest place we ever made whoopie” as Bob Eubanks used to phrase it (with a leer) on the Newlywed Game. San Vicente median is a fairly wide strip of grass between the two directions of the Boulevard of the same name. To be precise it is an area just north west of Wilshire in West L.A. where San Vicente veers off to the north. I don’t think I need to go into more detail than that except to say, yes, we were crazy back then. It is a few blocks east of the locale where much of the sad O.J. Simpson story played itself out, not that that has any connection to the story in the song. Another keen aspect for you writers out there, is the usage of the word “metaphor” in a simile – “...come upon us, like a metaphor, for a love song”. These are the things about song writing that get me up in the morning ready to write again! (cheap thrills, eh?)

mwe3: Track 3 on Myth America “What Lurks Inside A Heart” goes back to the refrain “Is it science or art?” Is that a jibe at the relentless pace of technology and forcing people to almost become machine like these days? Another myth of America? Great track and a blistering guitar solo before the last part... “Life, the joy and strife, So Brief...”

WALTER EGAN: Thank you for your kind words, Robert. This tune is a reflection on two fairly horrible incidents that happened around the same time. Primarily it concerns the suicide of a good friend and tangentially it brings in thoughts of what could make that maniac kill all those kids in Sandy Hook Elementary. I fear my phrase “science or art” fails to get to the real question, that being “nature or nurture”. I know we can never really understand what makes our fellow men and women do what they ultimately have to do. I just wonder is it something we are born with or something we pick up along the way.

mwe3: Track four “Dyin’ For Love” is a driving rocker with a bit of a social commentary. Is love dead in the 21st century? “Now is the new age of lover’s dismay” Have some forgotten how to love in the age of the internet and microwave radiation everywhere? Do you think if it was released today, the Beatles’ song’ “All You Need Is Love” would stand a chance in 2014? lol

WALTER EGAN: As to the Beatles standing a chance today, I’d like to think yes, but I wonder what format they would fit into. As to their sentiment in that tune, I also fear that its innocence might get fairly swallowed up by our ironic and cynical age. “Dyin’ For Love” is a song that I wrote in 1988 when the AIDS crisis was rearing its ugly head... but I felt it still had relevance today. For the new recording I changed it from a shuffle to a straight ahead rocker. The genesis of this number was a random guitar figure that my young son played on a guitar which I had in open tuning for him to fool around with. I guess I should really add his name to the writing credits!

mwe3: How about track five, “Her Smile”? Is seems a rather sedate kind of love song compared to “Dyin’ For Love”. Is “Her Smile” the flip side of “Dyin’ For Love”?

WALTER EGAN: When I’m not doing music I substitute teach in a high school here in Cool Springs/Franklin, Tennessee. Some days I really enjoy my job there and some days not so much. I was having one of those latter kind of days... perhaps my lyrics here indulge in a bit of hyperbole; it probably wasn’t the worst day ever , but I wasn’t enjoying it. Out of the blue a particularly sweet and nice young lady turned my day around with her very sweet smile…and there, ladies and gentlemen, you have a song!

mwe3: Track six “Nothing Can Save Us Now” is a bit of social commentary again. Is that a look into the divided nature of the American Myth in 2014? “Where has my friend gone, What’s right when’s love gone wrong”...

WALTER EGAN; I love the feel of this track and its concise delivery. It is a relic of my separation from my future former wife. I think it pretty much says what it means without much explanation.

mwe3: Is “Lili Lovin’’” a straight ahead love song? It has a big of a reggae feel. Sounds like a break from the heavier subject songs on the CD.

WALTER EGAN: Some songs are rooted in true life experiences and some are just made up out of whole cloth, this is one of them. Since being introduced to reggae in 1971 by my old friend Chris Darrow, I have loved playing around with the genre... after all I was born in Jamaica…wait for it…wait for it…Jamaica, New York! This song grew out of the music and described a fairly lustful approach to the topic of romance. Definitely a break from the heaviness in the sequence.

mwe3: Is “Stop Bein’ You” another kind of social commentary song? Is this the age of people adopting different personalities? Multiple facebook accounts? lol “You can’t escape what’s true, you’ll never stop being you”… I love the line “With a single slip, you may lose it all!” So true.

WALTER EGAN: Songs are inspired from many different sources. “Stop Being You”, I can reveal here for the first time, was written during the presidential campaign of 2012 as a reaction to the candidacy of Mitt Romney as he continually showed different faces to different audiences. I am not so naïve to think he is the only politician to use this tactic either. But I think it could easily apply to a broader look at us all as we try to become whom we must be.

mwe3: If there’s a single off Myth America I would hope it’s “Time The Master”. Even with all these bells and whistles, it all comes down to being human after all right? The song has a bit of a Roy Orbison feel to it. Very melodic with a tear-jerker of a chorus “Days go long, but all too soon they’re gone...”

WALTER EGAN: In the landscape of Myth America this tune marks the beginning of an elegiac and introspective state. Hey, it’s no secret that we are all getting older with every breath and at some point, if we live long enough, we come to a place where we know that the end is closer than the beginning. These next four songs are my take on being such an old fart and the mystery of time. One day you look at yourself in the mirror and notice that you are not the kid you think you are. Another aspect is that perhaps the inner you doesn’t feel much older than you did, say, in your twenties. I know this is the case for yours truly. I guess you might say that this song is a cousin of “Time Waits For No One”. By the way, I love Roy Orbison and I only wish he were still around to pitch it to... but time moves on…

mwe3: “Like A Nail When It’s Bent” is kind of country inspired. Is that the side of life that makes you want to just give up? “I Can’t figure out what it’s all been about...”

WALTER EGAN: Again the realization that you are not so young as you used to be, is the inspiration for this number, with a small dose of self-pity thrown in for good measure. I just thought that the bent nail was a wonderful metaphor.

mwe3: Track 11 “Can’t Cry No More” is another love gone wrong track. There’s some cool guitars sounds on that. I guess there’s always room for another love gone wrong song!

WALTER EGAN: Yes, the self-pity section keeps on going here doesn’t it. This is another song from my separation/divorce times. I was touched just today when I received a message from a girl who had my new album. She said this section of the CD made her cry and she wanted to make sure I was not sinking in despair. I assured her that I was not, although the emotions behind these heartbreak songs was most definitely real, writing a song about them helps one to purge his demons and get them out of himself. Writing songs is a superb form of therapy.

mwe3: Track 12 “Gone Away” is another great single type track with a Byrds-like melody. Again, Ron’s drumming work is great on this song! How does Piscataway fit into that song? The alienation of post Bush 21st century America? How can we get back both our confidence and our common sense?

WALTER EGAN: Again a song about life from the point of view of someone realizing that he is getting older. I like your deeper reading of the meaning however, and I might just have to adopt it. This does have the positive spin of making the most of what time is left and I always thought it should be the last song on the album… Piscataway might just be the capital of Myth America, and as such must remain a "mythtery"...

mwe3: Anyway, Myth America closes out with a bang on “Yeah”. Is “Yeah” the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel? Great album closer! Were you going for the jugular? Lol

WALTER EGAN: However... Dean at the label wanted to finish the disc with a bang, hence “Yeah” as the last song. I thought this would make a great opening track, but I think it does work well after all the self-reflection of the previous four tunes. It is a fun, happy rocker and I think in the over all picture of Myth America leaves the listener with a hopeful assertion of positivity. Maybe I was going more for the conjugal than the jugular, but whatever works for you!

mwe3: What guitars are you playing mostly on the new CD? You play all the guitars as well right? What new developments are there for you in the guitar world these days?

WALTER EGAN: Not too many big guitar changes Robert. I am still loving my ’68 Strat with the Seymore Duncan pickups and that is the primary electric on the tracks. I play a Squier bass that is an amalgam of a “P” and a Jazz bass; I have my 1974 Martin D-35 in action along with a newer Martin DCX1E with Fishman electronics. I also have an Epiphone “John Lennon” acoustic with that little pickup near the neck... I love the way this guitar looks and I also used my Squier Jagmaster with flat wound strings on one or two tracks.

A refection on guitars: I am amazed that companies like Fender are issuing guitars like the Kurt Cobain Mustang and Jazzmaster for outrageous prices. I find that ironic, since Kurt probably got the Mustang because it was affordable. It is my theory that the cheap Squiers and Epiphones of today could be the expensive reissues of the future if only someone with a powerful enough charisma plays them.

mwe3: Where and when was Myth America mostly written and recorded and being that you play most of the instruments what was it like working with drummer Ron Krasinksi?

WALTER EGAN: I may have touched on this, but the songs were mostly written in the last few years, since my last release Raw Elegant in 2010, although some were older, reworked and brought up to date in new recordings The recordings cover that same “since 2010” label. Working with Ron Krasinski is always a joy. He is the consummate professional who was classically trained and has been playing since he was very young. He has a truly professional approach to his craft and always makes things better by his participation. On top of that he is one of the funniest people you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.

mwe3: That is some very cool cover art for Myth America. It’s very “Americana” in a way. What inspired it and who made the painting? How does it reflect the music?

WALTER EGAN: Thanks, that is a painting which I did a few years back from a slide of a vacation with my parents when I was 8 or 9. I was an art major at Georgetown University and have a BA in Fines Arts. My concentration was metal sculpture. I have continued to express myself in art as well as music and writing throughout my life. In the 1990’s I wrote a song called “RnRIP” in which I recounted the sad demise of the martyrs of rock & roll. Since then I have created a series of portraits of those rockers. Last week I played at the opening of an exhibit of about 30 of those paintings in Washington D.C. My artwork has appeared on Lindsey Buckingham’s Out Of The Cradle CD as well as Malibooz and Brooklyn Cowboys releases.

mwe3: You said you kind of miss New York City, which is where you and I are originally from. Is New York just a state of mind for you these days? Do you ever write about leaving New York and can you compare living in Franklin with living in Forest Hills? I still remember the 1964 World’s Fair like it was yesterday...

WALTER EGAN: That World’s Fair pretty much coincided with my coming of age and I had some wonderful and memorable times and dates there. Of course, The Malibooz famously played there twice, at the N.Y. State pavilion and the RCA Pavilion. Perhaps NYC is more of a state of mind these days since the one I remember isn’t really there anymore. That said, I played Town Hall last week as part of the Beatles 50th celebration and was as exhilarated as ever to be back in my home town. The pizza still rules and my son now lives and works there. I remember my mother thinking I was crazy to want to live anywhere else, but as I have found out, there are many great places in this “Myth America”. I have written a few songs about leaving, e.g. “Goin’ Home” on my Walternative CD.

Living in Franklin TN as I have been now for almost 17 years is surely different, but nice none the less. The stress level is so much lower and the small town life can be very sweet. Of course, now my daughter wants to move to LA and I feel the tug of that home town pulling me again at times as well. I have never liver in one place for longer than 18 years so... who knows?

mwe3: How much of Myth America was influenced by the political uncertainty in the US today? Has outrage turned to apathy in 21st century America? In a country where bells and whistles pass for progress, have Americans just given up on trying to move evolution forward?

WALTER EGAN: I think our country, and probably the world, is in some very tenuous times these days. The political polarization outstrips even that of the notoriously polarized late 1960s and quite frankly I find rather obscene. The glut of information these days hasn’t made it any better since so much of it is so ultra partisan. The wealth gap between rich and poor is appalling and getting worse. Outrage might be apathetic at this point but people have to be able to live and make a living and if they can’t then I wouldn’t be surprised to see the level of rage rise. I like to hope that the better natures will win out over the greed and alienation so rampant today.

Perhaps the somewhat somber nature of Myth America is a product of these times, it’s hard to say. A songwriter sees the world digests it and then attaches it to a catchy tune. All artists are a product of their times in one way or another.

I didn’t write these songs, do this album as some kind of diatribe though. Myth America is very much my personal journey living in the now (and then).

mwe3: What’s new with The Malibooz these days? Have you and John Zambetti decided on a follow up to the Queens’ English CD from 2010? Hard to believe it’s been about 4 years since that great album came out? Any fresh thoughts about making that great album?

WALTER EGAN: I will be joining the Malibooz for a show in Beverly Hills at the Saban Theater Friday February 28 as we open for Ambrosia. We continue to play on. John Zambetti and I will do QEII probably later this year as we have been writing new songs for the CD for a while now.

Queens’ English was a really fun project as we paid homage to the great Brits by whom we were inspired and got to make a record with quite a few of them as well.

Making records, CDs, etc. is one of the most painstaking yet satisfying endeavors I can think of, especially when it is done with people whom you respect and enjoy making music with. Getting to record in Malibu is icing on the cake!

mwe3: What’s next for you this year? Are you planning new songs, writing plans, reissues, performances?

WALTER EGAN: I started writing songs when I was sixteen and haven’t stopped yet, and have no plans to cease. I look at 2014 as a year full of promise, the promise of lots of gigging as I promote this CD, as I elevate my painting profile and as the Malibooz reunite for more gigs and recordings.

I was honored a few years back when the author Jeffrey Thomas wrote me into one of his stories called “Waltered States”. It is an hilarious tale included in his tome “Nocturnal Emissions”.

I returned the favor when I adapted his book The Health Agent into a screenplay called Punktown – The Black Blizzard. I have a friend in the picture business who thinks it has a chance and he is shopping it now in Hollywood. I hope that that also sees the light of a dark theater in the not too distant future. I am also producing a young artist and his band as they go into the studio for the first time next month.

I persevere in my creative quest relishing every day as a new opportunity to come up with something new.

Thanks for the interest and I’ll see you in the crossword puzzles.


Thanks to Walter Egan @ www.WalterEgan.com

 

 
   
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