Butch Walker is unabashedly rock & roll. But his Georgia roots and affinity for artists from Waylon Jennings to Keith Urban (he produced two tracks on Urban’s Fuse) allow a hint of country to creep in, especially on his 2015 knockout Afraid of Ghosts. A somber record that addressed the death of Walker’s father, Ghosts was far removed from the power-pop and anthemic rock the singer-songwriter perfected on albums like 2011’s The Spade. On Stay Gold, however, his upcoming eighth studio album, Walker returns to loud guitars and sing-along choruses.
With its movie-quote payoff line and a healthy dose of what punk pioneers Bad Brains called “P.M.A.” (positive mental attitude), the title track brims with optimism and inspiration, as well as some crunch-twang chords. (Listen to the song below.)
“‘Stay Gold’ is about being from a shit-dead-end-town and not having a glimmer of hope. I wanted this record to somehow spin all of those negative stories into a positive light. It came from the S.E. Hinton novel and, later, a Coppola film, The Outsiders — ‘Stay gold, Ponyboy’ was the big line,” Walker tells Rolling Stone Country. “It became a positive send-off, to tell somebody to not give up hope. ‘Stay gold,’ ya know? I felt like, maybe with that reference, it can say a lot and say nothing.
“The line in the song is, ‘In a world so black and white, boy, stay gold,'” continues Walker, “and that, to me, sums up where we are right now. Not to get political or anything, but it’s just everything is black and white — there’s no gray area. So, if there’s any advice I can give anybody it’s just to have their own fucking opinion.”
Walker, who has a part-time home and studio in Nashville, is a fixture in Music City. He recently performed at Dylan Fest, a tribute to Bob Dylan at the Ryman Auditorium, and is set to headline the Cannery Ballroom on August 19th.