Doc Walker, the duo of Chris Thorsteinson and Dave Wasyliw, is one of Canada's most renowned country acts with over thirty hit singles and numerous awards including multiple CCMAs and a JUNO. They recently released their eighth studio album, aptly titled, The 8th, on October 21st. It features their Top 10 hit "Put It In Drive" as well as their current single "That's How I Like It," which is an ode to both of their wives. Dave graciously took the time to speak with us about the album, longevity in the music business and the Bands on The Run Tour.
Doc Walker's latest album, The 8th, was released on October 21st. Being that this is your eighth album, did you find yourselves doing anything differently on this record?
We split up the record. We did the first four songs in Nashville with a producer who we have previously worked with, Justin Niebank, and we did the rest of the album in Toronto with Gavin Brown. Gavin is someone we have been big fans of and always wanted to work with. He’s produced some really cool stuff like The Metrics, The Tragically Hip and Three Days Grace. When a little bit of a window opened up in our schedules, we snuck in there. We really hit it off and loved working with him, so we booked a second session right away and finished up the record.
The great thing about Gavin is he’s always wanted to do a country album. We initially thought he’d rock it right out into a Gavin Brown record, but he didn’t. He said that what he wanted most of all was to make the quintessential Doc Walker record, which was perfect.
Did you have a hand in writing for the record?
We wrote all but two songs. We are never biased towards anything because the right song is the right song no matter who wrote it. When both Chris and I agree that an outside song would be a great addition to the album, you know for sure that it is a strong song, the right song.
Has your writing changed over time?
Oh, it has changed quite a bit. Our first album came out in 1995, although the string of albums did not start until 2001. We were both in such different places then, from living in friends’ basements, or as in my case, my mom’s basement, to not having kids or wives. Things have completely changed from those days. We both have great wives, three kids, homes and responsibilities. We can go back and sing honestly about what happened growing up in Portage la Praire in a song like “Shake It Like It’s Saturday Night,” but ten years ago we could have never sung “That’s What I Call Love,” which is about standing with your partner through rough times.
There are a lot of songs out there that Chris and I could never really write. We know bro is very popular but we couldn’t honestly sing it. We don’t feel the need to talk about river beds, tailgates and tight jeans. Sure, we had fun, but those times were not the most memorable in our lives. The greatest thing that Chris and I have done is try to be honest about what we write, and you can only be honest with what you lived.
Your current single is “That’s How I Like It.” Talk about the story behind that song, which is actually an ode to your wives.
The response to “That’s How I Like It” has been pretty amazing; it is our fastest climbing single ever! The song is about those quirky little things your partner does that you love. For example, there’s a line in there-“you're always late but the world stands still”-that Chris and I both relate to so much. We could be super-duper late for something, but my wife still hasn’t put on her mascara (laughing). It’s an uphill battle, but it’s great. I wouldn’t change a thing.
Doc Walker has been making music for twenty years. What keeps you going?
I don’t know! (laughing) No, I do. Chris and I had talked in Nashville recently about how new it always feels. We never make the same record. We don’t go into the studio or writing sessions thinking 'let’s do that again' because it worked before. And honestly, I think our fans would expect a little bit more. Listen to Beatles, for example. They started off with “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” and grew into symphonies and magical stuff with their audience growing with them. That’s what we're going for, not to be the Beatles, but just to kind of challenge ourselves, grow, evolve and hope the fans do too….and maybe grab a few new fans along the way.
To have such longevity in the music business speaks to the loyalty of your fan base.
Yeah they’ve been so great and so loyal. When we are on the road we see fans who have become our friends, which is a little different than it used to be. When there was no social media, artists weren’t really friends with fans. My Space and Facebook made people really accessible. We can get to know the fans and what they’re about, which is important because you’re writing for them so you should kind of know a little bit about them.
Social media has been a great tool to use, but also at the other end of the spectrum, it’s nice not having information too. When I was a kid I was a big AC/DC fan and there was that mystery where you guessed and made up your own little stories about how they are as people, which was pretty neat. But [with social media] that's in the past now I guess.
You will be seeing a lot of your fans on the Bands on The Run Tour which starts on November 21st. Tell me about what audiences can expect from the tour.
It is one of the most ambitious things we’ve ever been a part of. We are going to be three full bands with four tour buses and a bunch of semi-trucks going from one end of the country [Canada] to the other. When we initially had talks about touring like this, we were all very clear on the objective-which was to give fans a huge bang for their buck. For every dollar they give us we are going to be giving them three dollars back in entertainment. That’s hopefully what will happen for whole month we are out.
Are you looking forward to being on the road with your tour mates The Road Hammers and Blackjack Billy?
It's going to be great. Jason from the Road Hammers has been a part of our lives for quite some time now. He actually wrote the song "Rocket Girl," from our second record, which was our breakthrough. We couldn’t believe he wasn’t going to cut that song because at the time, he was already a big star. We thought he was silly for not cutting it and I think now he even thinks he’s silly for not doing it (laughing). We were lucky to have that song; it solidified our spot in Canadian country.
Finally, I always love to know, is there one record that was recently released that you cannot stop listening to?
I like buying all kinds of records, including rock and pop. The Kacey Musgraves record is very country; I love that one. I also recently bought a Willie Nelson record that’s pretty fantastic.
Watch the lyric video for "That's How I Like It" here
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