Don Walker Has Catfish Cookin' - By Mike Gribble
|Hes not a great singer -
arguably not even a good one - but former Cold Chisel songwriter and keyboard player Don
Walker is enjoying the ride as he maps out his own frontier for his band, Catfish. The
swampy, country-tinged R & B band this year will launch the follow-up to Catfish and
Ruby, an eagerly awaited offering in the wake of Walkers cameo role in Tex, Don and
Having remarried in January, Walker is on the road supporting American Gothic rocker Andy Prieboy. Hes dishing up Catfish delights such as Three Blackbirds, the 18-minute sea shanty slated to make its debut on the new album. While Catfish is Walkers vehicle for new song ideas, it remains tempered with his love of urban earthiness.
"Its me singing," says Walker. "And weve got a band comprising double bass (Paul Burton), drums (Paul de Marco), harmonica (Dave Blight), pedal steel (Garrett Costigan) and guitar (Kid Groove, who is rumored to be Ian Moss).
"Its more Catfish than Tex, Don and Charlie although people who are into Tex, Don and Charlie wouldnt be disappointed. Its less of a concert show and probably a little more raucous than Tex, Don and Charlie.
"Were covering mainly the new stuff. We have a new album recorded that is not out yet and wont be until mid-year. Its called, tentatively, Were All Gonna Die, after one of the songs."
According to Chisel guitarist Ian Moss, Walker was almost kicked out of the band early in its career for not coming up with adequate material. But hes still at it and the songs have never ceased.
"I was writing a lot up until 12 months ago and then I recorded this Catfish album in July," says Walker. "This album was a very inspiring little exercise. We did a few days rehearsal in my house, then recorded the whole thing live in about three days.
"We recorded a lot of stuff. And the good thing about doing that is you can come out with a fairly focused album."
In the lead-up to the ensuing album, Walker also was involved in choosing and producing recovered Cold Chisel material from the late 70s for the Warner Music album Teenage Love.
"It was sort of like uncovering old diaries," says Walker.
"That album was really a labor of love for everybody because so much stuff came to light that wed forgotten about.
"A good half of that album was written and recorded before we were a recording band and certainly a good many years before we were popular." Almost a quarter of the album was written about drinking. "Theres probably a lot of sex and drugs in there as well," quips Walker.
Don Walker "Its going to become apparent after a few years whether youre any good or net".
"Its a reflection of being that age at that time, or that age at any time.
"Anybody who was around at the time knows fundamentally we were a pretty feral rock band. Its been a long time since we were out there playing live and all people hear about Cold Chisel is the big, sleepy hits on radio.
"There are probably a few generations whove come along thinking thats what the band was like but really thats just a reflection of the fairly small commercial end of things."
Except for the final years of Cold Chisel, Walker says hes always felt comfortable on his musical path to selfexpression.
"Except for a certain period around the last couple of years of Cold Chisel, where it all got out of control," he says.
"Ive always felt like that and Catfish album sales have reflected that feeling over the years.
"Well, Im not totally comfortable with it. You can always listen to stuff and wish it was better. I wish I was a better singer but (my voice) is better than it used to be.
"In the end, it was just something I wanted to do, so thats what Im doing.
"I never took vocal training because I thought it would sort itself out or it wouldnt. I find the best thing is just jumping up on stage and doing it.
"Kids always start off with the right idea, which is just to do what makes sense, and you do it really good and its going to become apparent after a few years whether youre any good or not.
"But to try to second-guess yourself or do somebody elses music or trying to work it out logically from a commercial sense always leads to defeat.
"If you just follow your nose and do what you think is good stuff, well, ah ... you could win.
"You may not win but youll lose with dignity."
© 1995 The Guide (Advertiser) (April 27th)
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