“I really wanted to leave a piece of my soul behind with this record.” – PT Walkley
PT Walkley has been one of the more interesting listens for me here at TheFrontloader.com. Mr. Walkley and I connected through TheFrontloader.com‘s MySpace site (go request us as a friend if you haven’t already), and after taking one listen to his music, I knew that I wanted to write about him.
PT Walkley already has quite an impressive bio behind him: he’s scored films (three for Ed Burns: Looking for Kitty, The Groomsmen, and Purple Violets), his band The Blue Jackets opened for Coldplay last June in Madison Square Garden, and he does commercials for companies like GE and Mastercard. Wow. Even with this list of credits, though, PT is just as humble as can be… he’s really taken the time to answer my questions, and for that I am truly appreciative. For any artist reading out there: ANSWER ALL EMAILS YOURSELF. Sometimes it means the difference between picking up a casual listener to connecting with a real fan.
I received his upcoming release, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone, and had to seriously spend some time with it. This wasn’t a one-listen-wow-I-like-it-that’s-it kind of record, this was a collection of songs that required more attention, as it carried with it characters, incidents, and a story line to follow.
First, I’ll discuss the story, then I’ll move on to the music.
There are many types of “concept” albums. According to Roy Shukar’s book, Popular Music: The Key Concepts, a concept album is, “unified by a theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, narrative, or lyrical.” Mr. Macy Wakes Alone definitely falls into this category, which makes it the kind of record that really seeps into your brain after a number of listens.
I’ll let PT explain the ideas and characters behind the record:
“The main storyline revolves around 3 characters – Audrey Macy, Calvin the Coroner and Mr. Macy. Audrey is the spoiled brat, daughter of a rich and evil record executive (Mr. Macy). She lives the Paris Hilton life, then starts aging and clutching to the final stitches of fame and fortune as the recession creeps closer… as her paranoia grows, she plots to kill her daddy in an effort to get an early inheritance.
Mr. Macy represents the bad guy. He spends his time combing the local nut house, exploiting the talents of gifted but twisted minds… he gets the one hit, then throws the kid back in. One of those kids was Calvin, who grew up across the street from the Macys in the local funeral home. He was always infatuated with Audrey, but she would never give him the time of day. He kept faith alive that she would come to him someday…. and she does, but only because she needs his help to cover up the murder… “anything for you Audrey Macy….”
Here’s a great computer animated music video for track, “Audrey Macy.” You can get a sense of the story here… I highly recommend watching this to get a visual sense of PT’s vision.
VERY cool. PT explains, “My goal is to bring back the cover-to-cover listening experience that has gone missing in the iPod era.” He goes on to say that the story comes from “an amalgamation of all I had learned from and loved about music over the course of my life.” This statement makes me wonder who inspired these characters…
When I first heard a few selections off Mr. Macy Wakes Alone, I was immediately drawn to the instrumentation. You’ll find the “usual” instruments like drums, guitars, bass, piano… but you’ll also hear a wonderful arrangement of strings, horns, flutes, choirs, a harp, and a saw… yes, a saw. You can hear the saw in the Dig-It section… check out “Lonely.” COOL.
Regarding this rather eclectic blending of sounds, Walkley writes, “I knew I wanted to dabble in all the genres while keeping a common thread/voice. That said, I wanted to execute each genre properly, using classic instrumentation, then letting those instruments bleed into the other styles on the record…a sonic collage?”
It’s definitely more than this “sonic collage” that makes the album sonically interesting, though… the arrangements are just as complex. Check out “Calvin the Coroner” and you’ll see what I mean. Built inside two minutes and seventeen seconds, PT takes you through distinct movements within this song… I absolutely LOVE the piano work that bookends the tune.
PT’s vocals are also something to take note of. He sings as either the narrator or a character, and the distinction is quite evident. In songs like, “Audrey Macy,” his voice is more matter-of-fact, but in the very next track, “No One Needs to Know,” you can get a sense of a personality in the delivery. Walkley says, “I really wanted to set up the characters, then let people assign the different songs to each voice.” It’s always fun to hear an artist step outside of themselves within their craft.
Funny thing is, though, that Walkley is still revealing a lot about himself through this story: “I want people to feel like they know me after listening to this, like they have made a new friend. or a few new friends if you include the characters.” Someday I’d love to sit down with PT and find out how much of this album is fiction and how much is not.
Because of the record’s musical diversity, pin-pointing a genre Mr. Macy Wakes Alone would fall into is not the easiest thing to do. The style reminds me of a Vaudevillian show, but at times gives me an image of a New Orleans funeral procession. Now, I understand how odd of a combination that is, which is why I’ve attempted to give you an idea of the music through the three tracks below in the Dig-It section. I must admit that it was difficult deciding which songs for you to sample, as you really need to hear the whole album to get the complete picture… the songs are all so well put together… I really wish I could just post the entire album here for you. The 47 minutes you’d spend listening to it is SO worth the time.
PT will be performing at The Blender Theater in New York on January 27th. This will be the record release party for Mr. Macy Wakes Alone… hopefully he will be performing the entire album… it’d be quite an experience. Here’s a live video of the song, “Daydreaming.”
Take the time to visit his official website. You’ll find more music samples and lyrics to all the songs. This’ll give you a greater scope of the story and characters. You can currently pick up the first single, “Somebody,” on iTunes. Mr. Macy Wakes Alone really is a wonderful listen… excellent songs, lyrics, and a story arc to boot… there’s depth, there’s emotion, and there’s something I think everyone can connect with here. I know I will be spinning this record for years to come.
“It is my pride and joy,” says PT… and rightfully so.
Buy a record, pick up some swag, see a show, spread the word…
Special thanks again to PT for answering all of my annoying questions 🙂
Your Dig-It Downloads: (right click on link to download)
No One Needs to Know