After looking at several pictures in catalogues and online to the moment he popped the locks on the case, Benny Walker has always had a love for the Fender Stratocaster.
“I remember that moment when I got my first Sunburst with a rosewood neck. It had been imported from overseas and had taken a while to get from the guitar shop into my hands. It was still in tune and it was quite a euphoric moment,” Walker says.
Striking an E major chord, it was hard to wipe the smile of Walker’s face. Having yearned to have one of his own, and listened to hundreds of records from the likes of Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend to name a few, the dream became a reality.
Born and raised in Moama, NSW, Walker turned to the blues in his teenage years, yet it wasn’t initially through the usual suspects of delta blues men ie. Robert Johnson or Son House, it was via the Nirvana MTV Unplugged in New York concert.
“My aunty gave me the cassette of the concert after I had been playing guitar for a bit and Nirvana playing acoustic made their music a lot more accessible to me at the time. I like loud guitars yet I was playing an acoustic guitar in the front room of the house and I felt I could play the songs along with Kurt,” he says.
“I used to sit in front of the speakers and listen to the album over and over to learn about the chord structures and it was a great learning curve. It enhanced my ability as a musician and from there I went onto discover a lot more about the blues. It was pivotal in shaping the musician I am today.”
With a new single Oh No You Don’t, Walker is set for big things on album #4 that is set for release later in the year. His latest album, Through The Forest, takes his sound production in a new direction, thanks in part to working alongside Jan Skubiszewski on the release – things are heating up in a whole new way.
“I got put it touch with Jan through Dan Sultan and it has been an absolute pleasure working alongside him. To be completely honest with you, we worked on Oh No You Don’t and I didn’t really know much about him. I wanted to change things up with this album and so I’ve got a new band in the studio with me and we are recording with a new producer in a different environment. I can’t say too much but it sounds a little bit soul and R ‘n’ B.”
Over the next month, Walker is touring around regional Victoria in support of the latest single. If you haven’t had the chance yet, be sure to check it out online. Piano driven and with the vocal harmonies sounding a little like Sting in Money For Nothing, it shows the new album (which is currently untitled) is going to be the most expansive thing Walker has done. With a real focus on piano at the front of the band, it is going to be exciting to see what the forthcoming record has in store for us.
If you want a little sneak peek before the release around October, be sure to head to these shows. An exciting live performer and a top bloke, the new record from Benny Walker will be a true highlight of 2016.
Written by Tex Miller
When & Where: The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine – July 16, Old Church on the Hill, Bendigo – July 23 & Gasometer Hotel, Collingwood – July 29.