Interview Series | Michael Walker

This week we have talented musician, Michael Walker with us! Read on to hear his best Starbucks story, his spirit animal and his ManU routine!
KH: Give the fans and stalkers out there a little description/bio of yourself. Where’d you grow up, etc?
In the spirit of perhaps gaining my first stalker I’ll just come out and say it all; born second of four children to some great parents in Bakersfield, CA.  My scene was hanging with the band, orchestra, and choir nerds while in high school which easily led to starting bands with various friends about town. My grades suffered due to the lack of homework being turned in.Some have said that my personality must have been heavily influenced on my standing in my family and my Californian locale during my first twenty years of life. I just like to make people laugh and listen to good music and take it easy. I try not to worry about every little thing there is to worry about in the world and just focus on the bigger picture.

KH: How did you get into the music biz? What initially inspired you?
I sometimes feel like “the biz” dragged me into it. Music has always been the thing that I do but the business side of it – where I actually do something public with what I do – wasn’t initially on my mind. Sharing music with friends, family, and eventually all over the internet is just what I did with what I make. As I played with other musicians, friends, and bands did I ever get involved with serious recording and touring. There were a couple different bands I played drums in during the 90’s and a couple other solo and side projects that happened as well.
In 1998 a couple of friends and I started making goofy hip hop music; performing at house parties and youth group social events, we called ourselves Royal Ruckus (http://www.royalruckus.com). As we kept making music, we started refining our goals, talents, and senses of humor. By 2001 we were being courted by a couple different independent record labels and by 2002 we were moving from Bakersfield, CA to Nashville, TN to be closer to the music business, to record, and to tour.
Being in Nashville was a great as I was surrounded by this creative community of artists and thinkers. My time there had me touring with Royal Ruckus from Texas to Florida, Louisiana, to north Michigan and many points in between. A few years later I joined the rock band Death Comesto Matteson (https://www.facebook.com/deathcomestomatteson) as their drummer from 2005 to 2007. We recorded in Seattle, WA and once again I was touring around the country. Sleeping on couches and playing tiny, stinky clubs to music fans.
KH: Who are your musical inspirations?
I tend to hop from one genre to another in my production and songwriting. From dance pop tunes to hip hop, to sleepy slow folk songs and rock music.
Paul McCartney is my favorite Beatle, Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys) is my pop music inspiration. I draw most influence in music production from a wide range of characters; Pink Floyd, Simon and Garfunkel, Chemical Brothers, Dr. Dre, Prince Paul, The Beastie Boys, Animal Collective, MGMT just to name a few. My most heartstring-pulling band that I’ve been in love with since I was 12; Starflyer 59.
KH: Tell us a little bit about Royal Ruckus! 
Royal Ruckus is Jamey Bennett and Michael Walker, known as Chunjay and Flatline. That’s how the bio would start ten years ago after we went from playing church youth groups to touring with former DC Talk members. Jamey and my family have been friends since we were very young. We grew up in the same suburban neighborhood in Bakersfield, CA; went to the same schools and played in the same bands. As Y2K came and went, the internet made spreading ones music far and wide much easier. It wasn’t long before our humble networking had our CDs being heard by people who were interested in paying money to have us record and album and move to Nashville, TN to do so.
Our music as been described as somewhere between The Beastie Boys and Barenaked Ladies. I wouldn’t have thought to say that. Probably more closer to The Beastie Boys and The Postal Service than anything nowadays. I do music production, songwriting, instrumentation, and vocals on a large chunk of any Royal Ruckus project. Mix that with a vocalist (Jamey) who has been into hip-hop since he was young and you’ve got an interesting concept on your hands. Add our senses of humor and you’ve got Royal Ruckus.
KH: When you go to the grocery store, what are you go-to items?
Coffee, Diet Coke, peanut butter, cheese, and heavy cream. Those are the things I get anxious about when they get low and in that order.
KH: You are a big MANU fan (Holla!). Who is your favorite player? What are your usually match-day routines? Did you ever play soccer growing up?
Glory Glory Man United!!
Although he’s young, skinny, and is filling the shoes of his legendary predecessor, I find myself being a big fan of Spanish keeper David DeGea. He’s an easy target for complaints but I see a lot of potential. Otherwise should I just go ahead and name off Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie? Ryan Giggs? Paul Scholes? Chicharito? Rio? It’s hard to focus on one player when I love the whole club.
On game day I wear my now worn out black Manchester United t-shirt I bought at Ross Dress For Less with Rooney’s #10 on it. I try to watch the games by rigging up a live stream found online from some foreign website and hook my computer to my TV so the family and I can watch the game and sing the songs. If I have to miss it I always have my phone on hand giving me updates.
Growing up I hated soccer. Most of my friends played it and whenever I’d watch it I’d get bored so quickly. I enjoyed American football just as a spectator because it was a big deal in my hometown to follow the high school football teams and being a french horn player in the band I’d end up in the pep band playing at the games every friday night.
I didn’t start following soccer until I was invited to go with my friend to a pub that opens early for hardcore English Premier League football watchers and saw the magic of Man United. Now I’m stuck for life.
KH: You’ve sang about working at Starbucks. What is one of your favorite stories? Do you still drink coffee or drink Starbucks?
Starbucks and music was my life in my early twenties. It was my first job after moving 2000 miles away from home and provided me with co-workers who turned into dear friends I still keep up with today, ten years later. On of my favorite stories I need to pass off to one of me oldest friends and bandmate from Royal Ruckus – Jamey Bennett – who has recorded for posterity one of my favorite stories on his website (permalink:http://neopolis.me/post/4989953615/some-time-ago-i-worked-at-starbucks-with-my-pal). We were told to stop giving out coffee sleeves on every cup and as customers got frustrated that they weren’t getting a sleeve they were forced to ask for one. We ended up writing down all the weird and hilarious words they would use instead of sleeve. Anyways, go read it on his website; it’s golden.
KH: What is your spirit animal?
As I close my eyes I will enter my cave and there I will find my spirit animal…an owl is my first answer. As a Mercurial Gemini I’ll end up changing my mind at some point.
KH: You also put out your own music. Where can we listen or purchase it?
Please visit http://mpwalker.bandcamp.com for all solo music available. I occasionally start up a songwriting exercise where I write and record songs from start to finished recorded result all in the span of an hour. Hopefully I’ll be able to free up some time soon to get back on that project.Also  http://www.royalruckus.com. Royal Ruckus got back together after almost ten years to put out another full length album with mostly never before heard songs. It’s easily my favorite as I have matured so much in my writing and performing style since I was 20 when our last album came out. Probably some of the best album artwork to date as well.

(KH: I’ll supply the band artwork here ha. I happened to have it on file as I designed and drew it)
Want to hear some great rock music with me on the drums? That’s me on Death Comesto Matteson’s “Ship of Fools or Ship On Fire” available on Amazon.com (http://amzn.com/B000SFJW8I)
KH: Is music a big part of your family life? Are you passing on your rockstar status to your kids? 
As with my parents before me, I am passing on music to my kids. It’s always been a family activity from the beginning from singing to keeping instruments easily available throughout our home. I’d say they are spoiled with the access they have.
——
Read past interviews I’ve done here:
Mercedes Yardley – author – Las Vegas
Daniel Batallés – photographer – Buenos Aires, Argentina
iron leaf press – designing, letterpress, Danielle Ameling – Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Jerri Valentine – makeup artist/photographer – Des Moines, Iowa
My Vicarious Life – fashion blogger, editor, Katrice – Atlanta, Georgia
Body By Svec – artist, Emily Svec – Des Moines, Iowa
808 Shirts – screenprinters, Tampa Bay, Florida
Sara Fakhraie – artist, South Dakota
Wesley Cook (donate to his kickstarter project) – musician, Atlanta, Georgia
Brolester Records, Jeremiah Tuhn, record label – Des Moines, Iowa
Atom St. George – artist, Riverside, California
John Eric Booth – vocalist, West Virginia
Brent Houzenga – artist, New Orleans
Adrienne Gross of justADG – photographer, Des Moines, Iowa
Harley May – writer and comic, The South
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