Chris Thorsteinson, Dave Wasyliw, Murray Pulver
“Simplicity is the best hook sometimes,” says Doc Walker’s Chris Thorsteinson. Although he’s talking primarily about choosing songs for the band’s latest record, GO, that statement also goes a long way in explaining the band’s enduring success and lasting appeal.
Over their decade-plus time together Doc Walker have earned the title of ‘the hardest working Country band in Canada’ the old fashioned way, through relentless perseverance – constantly honing their chops as a songwriting and a performing unit. Hitting every little speck on the map again and again and putting over a million miles behind them in Canada alone, in an effort to forge a lasting relationship with their audience.
While that perseverance has netted them multiple top-10 and top-5 hits on Canadian Radio, and some of the Canadian Music Industry’s highest awards, including six CCMA’s in 2008 alone, as well as the 2009 Juno for Country Recording of the Year for their last record, Beautiful Life, the real payoff for Doc Walker isn’t the awards and accolades that come with their growing success. If anything, it’s more accurately measured in a mutual dedication to each other, and to their audience.
“There’s so many acts out there that make records, put them in stores and expect them to sell themselves,” says Dave Wasyliw. “What you have to do is see your fans. It’s a relationship, you have to keep up your end of the bargain.” And that’s exactly what Wasyliw, Chris Thorsteinson, and Murray Pulver do on GO, their sixth record, and follow up to 2008’s smash country hit, Beautiful Life.
Though it catalogues the endless comings and goings that are so much a part of a musician’s life, GO does so in a way that speaks, in plain, down home language, directly to the heart of anyone who has ever had to say goodbye to something, or someone, that they love, whether for a moment, or a lifetime. And while only one of the songs on the record will be instantly recognizable – Doc Walker’s slightly melancholy cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” – don’t be surprised if the rest feel almost as familiar, almost as immediately.
Without ever veering too far from the tight songwriting that has been the hallmark of their past successes, Doc Walker adopt a slightly more stripped down sound than they have for past efforts this time out. But though sparer, GO is no less hooky and no less lush. From the simple, plaintive yearning for home on the lead single, “Coming Home,” to the raw, uninhibited joy of “Speed Of Life,” the songs and stories on GO may lean heavily on Doc’s shared Midwestern prairie roots, but the album is less about geography than about how we deal with distance – whether it’s the desolation of long periods away from our families, or the momentary, but equally deep isolation felt in the moment between telling someone we love them for the first time and actually getting a response.
No one knows more about the twin and often contradictory longings for both home and the road, than people who, like Doc, make their living from leaving – splitting their time between their home base of Manitoba, and Nashville; between their growing families and writing, recording and touring, “I think that those are the most trying times,” says Wasyliw. “You have this longing to go home, but then when you’re at home you have this longing to get your music out there, to show people. It’s this push and pull, this tug of war between family and the road – both passions.
Recorded over roughly two months in studios in Nashville, Manitoba and rural Ontario, GO features some the kind of A-list talent that comes with increased success. But while bringing Doc back together with Beautiful Life producer, Grammy-winner Justin Niebank, and featuring co-writes with the likes of Bruce Wallace and fellow Canadian, Victoria Banks, the lion’s share of the blunt, emotional impact of the record, particularly on tracks like “The Hard Way”, “If I Fall” and the album’s stand out title track, “Go,” is all Doc.
“It’s three guys that have known each other a long time and when you put us in the same room together, it’s what comes out. It’s not trying to be something. It’s really just what happens when the three of us get together, with all of our different influences,” Pulver explains.
Doc Walker proudly plays with S.I.T Strings, In Tune Guitar Picks and Voltage Guitar Cabinets.