Analog man: Joe Walsh makes a comeback, solo
Thursday, August 30, 2012
If you go
What: Joe Walsh
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 8
Where: Deep Water Amphitheater
WENATCHEE — What’s an analog man to do in a digital world? When you’re Joe Walsh, you keep on rockin’. Walsh is on tour with his first solo album in 20 years, “Analog Man,” and is headed to the Deep Water Amphitheater Sept. 8.
The 64-year-old is best known as the guitarist who steered The Eagles from country to rock, starting with their “Hotel California” album.
Walsh didn’t follow the traditional rock trajectory to stardom; he was discovered before joining the band. He had already released two successful solo albums before signing with the Eagles in 1975. Between the Eagles’ “Hotel California” and “The Long Run” albums, he sneaked in a third record, “But Seriously Folks.”
After the Eagles broke up in 1980, Walsh released six more albums as he slipped deeper into drug and alcohol addiction. He went into rehab before the wildly successful 1994 Eagles’ reunion, “Hell Freezes Over,” and has toured with them — sober — ever since.
Four years ago, he married Marjorie Bach, the younger sister of Ringo Starr’s wife Barbara Bach. At her urging, Walsh took advantage of a quiet few months in the Eagles touring schedule to cut his teeth on digital recording. In his title song, he playfully quips:
“Welcome to cyberspace, I’m lost in the fog
everything’s digital I’m still analog
when something goes wrong I don’t have a clue
some 10-year-old smartass has to show me what to do.”
Here’s what Walsh had to say about his latest work in a phone interview last week:
Go! After 20 years, what prompted you to write another solo album?
Joe Walsh: I have been a full-time Eagle since 1994, when we decided to get back to work. Nobody in the band really has had time or momentum to do solo projects, but we’re having a quiet year, so I had a little time window to get organized and finish the record. I was a little rusty and it took me a while to get up to speed, but now I’m good to go.
Go! What kinds of things were you rusty on?
JW: I had to learn digital technology and how to record with it. That’s what “Analog Man” is about. The way that I know to make records was obsolete. I knew how to do it with computers, but I had to really apply it this time around. There’s a lot of things you can do now that you couldn’t recording on tape. The temptation is to do all that stuff when you don’t have to. You can fix anything now, and the temptation is to fix everything because you can. You have to find the middle ground.
Go! This was your first solo album sober. How was the process different?
JW: It used to be a party, and I used to work late at night. It’s not a party now, I’m more focused and centered and I work in the daytime. It’s not really a hobby now, it’s more of a what I do. The words are more focused and there’s more of a message now that I know who I am. I’m trying to show everyone who that is. That’s a little scary, but it feels really good.
Go! But are you still having fun?
JW: Oh yeah! I had to learn how to have fun sober. When I stopped drinking, I thought all the fun was over, that I wouldn’t be funny and I wouldn’t have any friends. All of that was in my head. Yeah, it is fun now. Much to my amazement, I’m having a great time.
Go! What do you think has allowed you to relaunch your solo music career, when so many of your rock peers haven’t?
JW: I’m not done yet. In my darker days I kind of lost myself. I got out of touch with being a musician and having that be the only thing that matters. I’ve reconnected with that.
I’m maneuvering myself into a position where I’m around a band that really makes me play. I’ve got a band that’s really aggressive and forces me to keep up with them. There’s a lot of exchanging of ideas so it’s all really good stimulation to keep me going. I think a lot of musicians stop that stimulation and rest on their laurels and just perform their hits. They start thinking that they’re old, and if you think you’re old you are. I’m doing my best to stay young and think young and play rock ’n’ roll like I know how to do it.
Go! What was it like performing alongside Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl at the Grammy Awards?
JW: None of us were really sure it was real. All of that came up in the final hours before the Grammys show started live. It was Paul’s decision. We didn’t have time to rehearse it. We just had to plug in and go for it, which is exactly what made it work. I couldn’t look up that much, because every time I did, I either saw Bruce Springsteen or Paul McCartney, and I’d forget what I was doing. When we went backstage, we all kind of said, “What in the world just happened?” It’s something I’ll never forget. It was one of the top three or four best things that have ever happened to me.
Go! How is it different touring with the Eagles, versus touring solo?
JW: The Eagles is a grander scale. We play a lot bigger places and Eagles songs are very structured. Each individual has an assignment; you have a guitar part and a singing part and you better be there with that. If we all show up and do our part, it turns into something that’s bigger than any of us individually.
I also like playing smaller places of the interaction. The people aren’t behind a barricade, they’re right there with you. I have a lot more room to improvise and make it different every night. I have the best of both worlds.
Go! What’s next for your solo career?
JW: It won’t be 20 years until the next one. I want to do a blues album with a lot of blues people, like Bonnie Raitt and Doctor John, Keb Mo and John Mayer. I’ve been thinking about doing that. And I want to do another solo project. I’m already working on it.
Rachel Hansen: 664-7139
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