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Drinking with Strangers: Music Lessons from a Teenage Bullet Belt Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061787310
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061787317
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The artist named by Rolling Stone as one of America’s best singer-songwriters and the 2005 Producer of the Year shares the inside story of his music career

From his days with one-hit-wonder band the Marvelous 3 to his current work producing some of today’s hottest talent—from Weezer and Katy Perry to Pink, Avril Lavigne, and Panic! at the Disco—Butch Walker has proven himself a major influence in contemporary pop music. But the road to success wasn’t easy. Drinking with Strangers takes you into the studio and onto the stage, offering a rare glimpse into a life defined by raw talent, determination, a drive for perfection, and some ridiculous haircuts.

At age seventeen, Walker left small-town Georgia with his hair metal band and headed for the mean streets of Los Angeles. Full of piss, vinegar, and Jack Daniel’s (mostly the latter), these young Southern musicians were determined to become the biggest band on the Sunset Strip and land a major-label record deal. After many false starts—including an ill-fated concert tour of China—Walker’s rock-and-roll fantasies hadn’t quite come true, so he embraced the do-it-yourself approach. Taking control of his destiny, he learned to make success on his own terms, but not without some memorable, occasionally drunken stumbles along the way. Walker’s adventures taught him a number of life lessons he shares here with insight and candor, revealing the blessings of failure—and what it’s really like to spend your life going from gig to gig, drinking with strangers.

In a voice as wry as his lyrics, Walker pays tribute to his influences, from his parents to Mötley Crüe, from KISS to both Elvises (Presley and Costello). He offers a clear-eyed yet humorous look at the music business—the greed, the booze, the drugs, the infighting, the swindles, the unfulfilled promises—and explores its bad side, too. In documenting his rise to the middle, Walker frankly describes the delicate balance between success, selling out, and just knocking back another shot of whiskey to numb the pain.

Whether or not you are familiar with Walker’s music, Drinking with Strangers is a must-read for anyone who wants to make it in the music world, covering such essential topics as the digital revolution and its impact on both performers and producers, the art of creative collaboration, and what it’s really like to work with cutthroat competitors who might steal your soul (and your song). Unflinchingly told, Walker’s twenty-year journey of failing upwards becomes an unforgettable rite of passage.

About the Author

Butch Walker is a recording artist, songwriter, and producer. He lives in Atlanta and Los Angeles. His latest recording with the Black Widows is The Spade.



Matt Diehl is the author of four books; his writing has also appeared in such publications as Rolling Stone, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, SPIN, W magazine, and Interview. He lives in Los Angeles, California.


More About the Author

Butch Walker is a current recording artist, songwriter and record producer. His latest recording is "I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart" with Butch Walker and the Black Widows. Butch spends his time in Georgia and the Hollywood Hills. His author website is www.butchwalker.com.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This is a must read for fans of Butch Walker!
Jon Champ
I'm a fan of his music, but I think this is a good read for anyone who's interested in the music business.
lava890
And if he writes another book, I'll buy and read that too.
Timothy K. Schwader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By L. A. VINE VOICE on October 25, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thank God, for the Kindle. I just read Butch Walker's book in one sitting. Butch candidly tells of his life, inspirations and trials in his own voice. He really pours his heart and soul into this book, just like he does with his music. I feel that I understand and connect better to his albums from the Marvelous 3 days to present. The book was so easy to read, I could't put it down.

My husband (a professional musician) started reading this. He said he could really feel where Butch was coming from.

This book is a must read for any Butch Walker fan. You will love the photos.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Timothy K. Schwader on November 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jay Amabile on October 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Maybe the cover of Butch Walker's new book should've depicted a name plate that reads BUTCH WALKER: ROCK AND ROLL CHAMELEON. Who's Butch Walker, you ask? Really? Do I still have to explain that one? One way or another, chances are you know Butch Walker. He's reinvented himself more times than Madonna. He's gone from hairband member in Southgang, lead singer and guitarist in late '90s rock band Marvelous 3, an accomplished producer for the likes of Weezer, Katy Perry, Pink, and Avril Lavigne, to at the present moment, "just under the radar" indie rocker. If you're becoming acquainted with Butch Walker now, it will only take reading the 253 page Drinking with Strangers Music Lessons From a Teenage Bullet Belt, a book he wrote with Matt Diehl, to feel like you've known him forever.

Butch Walker's brief memoir does not recount explicitly epic rock star stories as printed in The Dirt or The Heroin Diaries. Perhaps Lifestyles of the Excessive and Eccentric is a more appropriate title for books about the lives of rock stars, but don't expect to read about week long benders from Butch, unless they involve songwriting. Occasionally he recalls messing around with a couple of girls, or drinking way too much, but it's not comparable to the exploits of Motley Crue. As much as he tries distancing himself from the hairband era, the best parts of the book turn out to be descriptions of random moments in his life, coincidentally with members of Motley Crue. For instance, the time he took a reckless helicopter excursion with his friend Tommy Lee. Walker even reveals a time he hung out with the Cruemaster himself, Nikki Sixx, and discovered just how over the top his lifestyle is.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Trevor F. Johnsen on December 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I’ve been a Butch Walker mega-fan since I saw the Marvelous 3 open for Collective Soul in mid-1999, when my girlfriend at the time wanted to see Collective and I took her, because that’s what I do. I was so impressed by M3 that I went and bought the “Hey Album” the next day. I don’t do that a lot, opening bands are usually torture. A few days later, I’d liked it so much that I bought “Math & Other Problems”… and greedily swiped up “Readysexgo” the day it came out. His solo career, through the changes, was the soundtrack to my college career. I loved them all, from “Left” to “Letters” to “Rise & Fall” to “Sycamore” to “Maya” to “I liked it better when you had no heart”. He’s still probably my favorite songwriter, and he is one of my biggest musical influences… and I was stoked to buy this book and I read it in 2 days.

BUT… Butch spends the whole book basically apologizing for each album he’s ever made. I guess he’s his own worst critic, but still… when he apologized for Southgang it didn’t bother me, when he apologized again for The Floyds I kinda laughed. I get it, you’re not proud that you were in a hair band and that FFR was rebelling against Southgang and trying to be the polar opposite. “Math & Other Problems” is probably my favorite record he’s ever done, and he basically apologizes again that he “was trying to sing like Elvis Costello” and whatever. But l love Butch, so obviously read on… he called “Freak of the week” a banana, and states that “Readysexgo” was basically recorded to convince Elektra to drop them. He recorded “Left of self-centered” to please M3 fans and admits that he doesn’t like the album… which of course is my second favorite record he’s ever done.
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