Lonnie Walker

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Rock bands are a dime a dozen, but great rock bands make you stand up and take notice immediately. We fell hard for Lonnie Walker, a young quintet from Raleigh, North Carolina. We asked band frontman Brian Corum about getting signed, songwriting, and his biggest lyrical influences, which include Frank Black and Slick Rick.

Take us through the arc of your career so far. How’d you end up on a label?

We’ve released These Times Old Times on two labels. The initial release was on a label called Terpsikhore and was promoted at a mostly local level. We re-released it on mine and my buddy Nathan Price’s label called DiggUp Tapes. It’s the only release we have thus far on our label that is in CD form, all the rest of our output is cassette tape. I wouldn’t of minded releasing These Times Old Times on cassette but in order to promote to radio and all it’s still necessary to use compact disc.

We’ve been on the road with Future Islands, Motel Motel, Dinosaur Feathers, Javelin, Thank You, Grandchildren, Ryan Power, Fatty Acids, The Love Language and others I’m sure I’m forgetting to promote our album and the split 7″ we released with Future Islands on the Baltimore label Friends Records.

We’re currently almost finished with an EP’s worth of material which I’m excited to get out to peoples ears. It defiantly enlightens some of the sweeter aspects of us playing as a band and explores certain sonic territory that we didn’t touch on in our debut.

Our keyboardist, Justin Flythe, was diagnosed with Lymhoma in early 2010 and is currently getting a bone marrow transplant. It’s by far has been the hardest thing for us to deal with as a band thus far. I’m proud of everyone in the band for holding it together though. I’m especially proud of Justin for dealing with all that weight while still making music with us and his solo project called Nieces and Nephews.

Who are your most profound musical influences?

There aren’t really too many specific genres of music that I stick to. I’m kind of all over the board. In high school I started learning and listening to a lot of different styles of hip hop. I met some friends who really knew the history behind it all. That opened my mind up to lyrics on a different platform from rock or pop words.

Through reading about the influences of a lot of my favorite indie rock bands, I began to gain an interest in Krautrock. I was turned on to the Cluster album Sowiesoso while I was gandering through the Raleigh record store Schoolkids. Brad Cook, of the band Megafaun, was working there at the time and was playing it through the store speakers. I bought it after chatting with him some about how sweet we both thought it sounded. I still really love that record.

I suppose most people who have heard my music assume my influences are artists like Neil Young, Talking Heads, Bob Dylan, The Stooges, Velvet Underground, Fleetwood Mac, and so on. I must say that those assumptions are totally correct as well.

Who are some of your influences lyrically?

I first realized that you could write a catchy song while also containing skewed, abstract, and sometimes disturbing lyrics when I heard Pixies. The song “Debaser” blew me away! I hated it at first probably because I didn’t understand how these elements were fitting together, but soon I became addicted to Pixies and Black Francis was my mentor.

I’m also a big fan of Slick Rick. He’s got a line where he says, “Cars come to a dead stop, Rain find ways not to drop on my headtop”. The fact that he says headtop reminds me of Bob Dylan saying thought-dreams in his lyric, “And if my thought-dreams could be seen. They’d probably put my head in a guillotine”. Real good stuff!

Bill Callahan, Will Oldham, and David Berman are some others that I really look up to.

What was the last song you wrote?

I tend to write a bunch of pieces of songs within the same brackets of time which leaves me with a lot of new tunes that are halfway to almost finished. I guess the last song I fully completed is one called “Teenage Poem”. We did a recording of it for Daytrotter.com so it can be heard there. It’s a story type of song that contains 5 different scenarios, most of which deal with coming of age, misunderstood lifestyles, and rebellion. I had a really fun time writing it.

What’s a song on These Times Old Times you really want people to hear, and why?

This isn’t a specific song but I’d like people to listen from the start of song 4 (“Moving Back Home Inside with You”) to the end of song 7 (“St. Sleeper”) without stopping. I really like how that portion of the album is tied together. As far as one single song, I’d like people to listen to “Crochet.”

What’s a lyric you’re particularly proud of on the album?

It’s a shot in the dark
It’s a piss in a pure pitch black bathroom stall

Are there any words you love, or hate?

Not particularly, but I don’t usually like it when the next line is predictable enough that you can guess what it is before you hear it. Although, that can sometimes work too when it’s purposely written with a smirk. I’ve heard bands and writers use lyrical clichés to their advantage.

How do you typically write songs? Words first, or melody?

Most of the time I work on the melody first and then fit the lyrics accordingly. However, I do try to write words even if I don’t have a song in mind. I’ve often gone through and picked out lines from these type of exercises and been able to use them for other songs. I wrote “St. Sleeper” without having any music in mind though. When you listen to the structure of it you can kind of tell. I was at the beach and would take long walks on the sand while writing all the different scenarios of that song in my head.

Do you find yourself revising a lot, or do you like to write automatically?

Initially, I try to write on auto pilot once I have a spark. That way I can get down the overall feeling inside without stopping too often and stifling the inspiration. I try do to this both with lyrics and melody. If I think of the melody first then I’ll sing or hum into my handheld mini tape recorder to find the structure that excites me the most with the song. Even if the lyrics at that point are nonsense words. If I have the melody first then I can start writing lyrics to fit it. I try not to edit myself too much at this point and when a different lyric comes that I think could replace the first one I write them both down.

Who’s an underrated songwriter, in your opinion?

Quinn Walker. Before he was in the band Suckers, he recorded a bunch of solo works that sounded like they were recorded on a 4-track tape machine. I came across two of these CD-R albums and they are absolutely fantastic. I’ve thought many times about covering a few of those songs but still have yet to do it. Chad VanGaalen is another writer who I think is great and could be a little more well known.

What’s a song you wish you’d written?

Neil Young: “Everybody Knows this is Nowhere”
Talking Heads: “Happy Day”


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