Protest the Hero‘s Rody Walker was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio program. Discussing the band’s latest record, Palimpsest, which is their first since 2013, the singer outlined his return from experiencing problems with his voice as well as the internal chemistry with the band.
Initially, Walker thought his days as a singer were over and he prepared to enter a new phase in life as a bartender. After some quick reflection, he decided the only option was to work on his voice and continue doing what he loves, which is writing music and performing.
Despite having written the lyrics to the record three years ago, Walker acknowledged how impactful they are today in relation to current happenings around the world as well as his outlook, as a Canadian, on the United States under the Trump administration. He also explained why U.S. affairs are relative to those not living in America as well.
Read the full chat below.
Prior to this record, your voice was severely debilitated. How did the uncertainty of recovery ultimately change your mindset as a vocalist?
It was weird. At some point I gave up. I went and got my ‘Smart Serve.’ In Ontario, I had to get a government card to tend bar. I said, “I’m just gonna tend bar” and I gave up that after a minute of consideration and deep thought.
I thought, “This is my life, this is the only thing I know how to do. I better figure out how to do it again.”
It was about two years of work and after that I was able to get myself back into shape and get this record recorded and out. I’m very happy to be in the place that I am right now. I am glad I am not stuck behind the bar serving whiskey to people, especially right now.
Palimpsest comes several years after last releasing new music. What changes in terms of the creative process when there’s a long time between releases?
The most primary changes are member changes for us. Our drummer Mike Ieradi was not with us on our last full-length record [Volition] — we had Chris Adler do the drums for that and we had written it with our old drummer and partially without drummer at all.
So, having Michael come into a full-length record… he was actually one of the principal writers of instrumental music within the band. To have him be one of the principal writers and not having ever written with this band before certainly created to my ear a vast difference. I could hear the difference very much.
He also kind of, I don’t want to use the term appropriated, but he has been playing with us for so long he knows the kind of things we like doing and he likes doing it as well. So it doesn’t differ from what we are and what we have been so much that I think it adds a different personality to us.
Minutia could be the best word that describes the process of making Palimpsest. Why was that attention to detail essential and detrimental to the end result?
Anything we do is incredibly intricate, but doesn’t always sound intricate, and that often comes down to banalities and minutia [laughs]. It is a very time taking process and its annoying for anyone else that had to do this. Sometimes you have cousins who build houses and they look at you like your job [as if it] isn’t a job because of art.
But, I think if they had to go through and sift through the minutiae that they might realize that it is very similar to every other job. It isn’t all just rock ‘n’ roll and whiskey shots.
Lyrically, Palimpsest is a very poignant view of America at an extremely pivotable time in history. Being Canadian, what compelled you to reflect on the perception of American greatness?
The lyrics were written almost three years ago, so to have them be so relevant is really peculiar, but I think anyone with two feet and a heartbeat could have told you that things were going to spiral out of control.
The United States is like the predominant country on our news cycle anyways, particularly in Canada. I know there are some European fans going, “What do we care?” But ultimately, with a major power like the United States seemingly spiraling out of control, it’s on everyone’s mind.
There would certainly be a lot of American citizens of a certain persuasion that would listen to that record and go, “What’s it of your business?” But it’s the world’s business, right? A lot of it is the treatment of people, a lot of it is our economies rely on your economy, and to have individuals tanking it for personal gain is just abhorrent.
Protest the Hero, “Canary” Music Video
Protest the Hero has been very adept at utilizing new and non-traditional methods of funding and distributing music. How has that experience benefiting you in terms of staying functional throughout a pandemic?
It’s been beneficial. This record was released through our guitarist’s tablature company. He has learned through the experiences of crowdsourcing and stuff like that, how to properly produce materials and distribute them. So, if anything, it’s benefited us most in that his company has become a fulfillment company. We are sort of working from the inside out as opposed to the outside out.
The pandemic didn’t really affect us that much because this is what we were planning on doing anyway. I think touring was going to be fairly scaled back regardless based on our increasing age and trepidation and anxieties [laughs]. But I don’t think the pandemic has had that dramatic of an impact on our business as strange as that is to say.
Hope you’re staying safe out there.
I thank you very much for having me, first of all. Secondly, I hope the same for yourself. I’m on an island right now, so you don’t have to worry about me. I’m in northeastern Ontario just sitting on a very private island. It’s cold as hell, but there’s no coronavirus here.
That’s good, you’re lucky.
There is Corona [beer]. There are several cases. No cases of COVID-19.
Thanks to Rody Walker for the interview. Get your copy of the band’s new album, ‘Palimpsest’ here (as Amazon affiliates we earn on qualifying purchases) and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie’s weekend radio show here.