Blue Skies for Seth Walker
Seth Walker recently released Sky Still Blue through The Royal Potato Family music label, which is celebrating its 5-year anniversary. The 11-track album was produced by Oliver Wood, one half of the Wood Brothers, and recorded at Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Studios in Nash-ville.
Jambands.com spoke with Walker about the new LP, working with Oliver, and dropping out of college to learn blues guitar. Walker, who has lived in rural North Carolina, Austin, and Nashville, resides in New Orleans.
How did you connect with The Royal Potato Family?
Kevin Calabro who runs the label, used to be the publicist for Hyena Records. In 2006 or 2007, I signed a record deal with Hyena records. Kevin actually discovered my record and they licensed it. We started working then and through the years, we continued to work together in some capacity, and now he’s my manager and label owner.
How is this new album different than your previous records?
The songs themselves dictate a lot of it, but I think it’s a combination of the songs and the fact that I moved to New Orleans. A stylistic element of New Orleans crept in. The unpolished gristle and push pull that the New Orleans’s vibe has, crept in. And the return to my blues guitar – that’s kind of how I got started— and it made for an interesting album. And of course Oliver Wood.
Before I get to Oliver, was your return to blues guitar a conscious decision or something that just kind of happened?
Not necessarily conscious. It just kind of organically happened. Things come around in circles and I just returned to something that was the return of the root for all of this for me. This is my eighth album – it was kind of a return as well as something new at the same time.
Let me ask you about Oliver. I find it interesting that the two of you had co-written 5 songs on the road together before you even entered the studio.
I originally met Ollie and Chris (Wood) on the road randomly enough in Ames, Iowa. Just one of those random gigs where I opened up for them in 2007. I Immediately became a fan and they had a lot of similarities musically and we also had a mutual dear friend, the late Sean Costello. That’s how we got connected and we kind of stayed in touch through the years. And I started opening up for them and we would be on the road and songs would start to spill out and the next thing you knew, we were in the studio.
What role did Oliver take as producer?
He has this way of organically producing. He doesn’t produce with an iron fist. He’s one of us – he’s one of the musicians but he knows when to lay off and when to put his foot down about a vibe, direction, sound or arrangement. He was awesome to work with and he also encouraged me to embrace the abstract side of music. To embrace the beautiful mistakes – he encouraged me to leave it raw. It’s music, you don’t want it to be sterile.
What is it about Oliver that makes it so easy to write songs with?
He’s one of my really good friends. We have a great chemistry and a common musical language. We speak some of the same language but we’re different enough to make a good collaboration.