The everything man
Drew Walker, photographer
It’s hard to pin Drew Walker down to any one thing. At any given time he seems to be juggling several creative projects. Some know him as head sound guy at the Witch Room, others for his work with live event sound company Point Source Sound (which he runs with his dad), while still others would recognize him as host of a weekly open mic at Sophia’s Thai Kitchen in Davis. Oh, and Walker, who plays bass in experimental indie-rock band Gentleman Surfer, also has his own solo project called Doofy Doo and plays in a Rocky Horror Picture Show tribute band called The Wild and Untamed Things. But, wait, that’s not all. Walker is an accomplished photographer, too, and his latest untitled exhibit is currently on display at Old Soul at 40 Acres. Walker took a break from his packed schedule to talk art, inspiration and how an embarrassing childhood nickname stuck after all these years.
My mom took photos, and she bought us cameras when we were kids for our road trips. Opening a fresh developed roll of photos has always been one of the most exciting feelings in the world for me. I love to be surprised by what worked and what didn’t. I love the physical one-of-a-kind artifact. I love the act of posing people for group photos. I love the science and logic behind it all.
Some of your photos seem candid, while others are very surreal.
I’m interested in anything interesting, whether it’s because of the personalities in it, or just because of the imagery or the colors, the shapes. My style is dictated by the people in my life, the places in my life, the lens I use. I also use an old film camera. Something about it—people take it a little less seriously because they might never see the image, and 'oh look at that, I bet it won’t even turn out.’ More personality comes out with an old film camera in subjects at least.
Which character do you play in the Rocky Horror band?
The last two [shows] I was Rocky. I did the whole costume: fake tan, blonde wig, golden Speedo, golden tennis shoes, and stripped naked on stage, sang … and played bass in the band. This time I don’t want to be Rocky—I haven’t been working out as much. I’m playing drums and playing Doctor Scott, who is in a wheelchair … so it’s just natural, I’m sitting down the whole show.
Your solo project is called Doofy Doo— explain the name.
When my little sister was young, she couldn’t pronounce my name, so she would call me “doo doo.” That became my family name. My mom still calls me Doo Doo, embarrassingly, in front of other people sometimes. I just kind of adapted that. Doofy Doo seemed perfectly fitting. The music is eclectic, experimental, and it’s melodic sometimes. I always try and keep it different. … Typically what I work from now is all record samples, so I’ll search online or I’ll find records, or CDs … and I’ll think of a theme. And I’ll improvise with the drum machine and the effect pedals, guitar, and microphone or whatever’s at the show. I’ll include poetry, or some kind of props to get my message across. Around Halloween last year, Satan was the theme. I did death and taxes in April.
Best thing—and worst—about hosting an open mic?
Best thing [are] the surprises, the newbies who blow you away being funny or talented. Worst thing is having to be “that guy” and [having to] tell people “no,” and tell people they’re done … and generally [having to] manage delicate egos. I try hard to be sensitive with that stuff, but I almost always have something to feel like a jerk about by the end of the night.
Best acts you’ve seen at your open mic?
One time a girl came in a tutu with batons and she put on a Bjork song and did baton twirling and tutu dancing. That was really cool … I wish more people would think of their quirky ideas as entertainment material. There’s this open mic culture that I see [that’s] so stagnant. There’s no freshness or wacky shit coming in. It’s not all about how well you can sing or how good your jokes are. It’s about the quality of your ideas and how well you share them.
What music are you listening to right now?
An old roommate of mine, Troy Mighty, who played by the name of Dead Western, moved to Berlin. I inherited his CD and cassette collection, and it’s mostly stuff from bands he met on tour or in Sacramento. Eighty percent of it is harsh noise and unlistenable freak folk home recording crap, but I’m finding treasure in there too. My most recent happy finds in that collection are Ya Ho Wa 13 which [was] the Source Family band. The Source Family were this infamous cult based around this health food store in L.A. in the ’60s. And they had their own psychedelic rock band.
How do you juggle it all? Ever feel like you need a personal assistant?
I do have assistance! I’m completely reliant on my girlfriend in most things. She helps me stay on track, her taste and support contribute a lot, she even hand letters my artist statements for my photo shows because my penmanship is so wack—though I would stop short of calling her a “personal assistant” because, you know. I also have a lot of help with Witch Room in Taylor Kohl and Barry Swars, who both have helped there since we opened. Really everything I do is helped along by others supporting me. When I feel overwhelmed it’s more often with gratitude than with stress.