I don’t read as much as I used to as a kid, but one of my goals (not resolutions…goals) for this new year is to get back into reading more often. I just finished one of my Christmas presents—Butch Walker’s autobiography, Drinking With Strangers—and I cannot recommend it enough.
Whether you realize it or not, you’ve likely heard dozens of songs that Butch had a hand in. He’s produced hit singles from Avril Lavigne, Weezer, Katy Perry, and Fall Out Boy, along with having a long and (semi) successful music career of his own. The book covers his entire musical life, from his teenage roots in a Georgia hair metal band called SouthGang (as ridiculous and hilarious as it sounds) to jumping out of a helicopter with Tommy Lee (ditto). Along the way, he drops gossip about the Sunset Strip, shares insights about the music industry, and draws weird pie charts in the margins.
It’s an interesting enough story in it’s own right, but the main reservation that one might have against Drinking With Strangers is the same as for reading any autobiography by someone you don’t know: “why do I care about this person’s life?”
Whether you’ve listened to Butch’s solo work or not (I’ve never really gotten into his music, aside from his excellent 2004 album Letters), his story is interesting because it’s about failing, repeatedly. Every chapter in the book is filled with mistakes made and lessons learned, but Walker clearly has enough talent and passion to find new avenues for his musical skills to take hold. Match that with a real talent for expressing himself in the written word, and you’re left with a heartfelt story that covers the ins and outs of the music business without ever losing sight of the man whose story it is.
Plus, he absolutely trashes Dr. Luke for about five pages straight. That’s worth the read alone.