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Local Listens: Todd Daniel of the Walkaways

Welcome to Local Listens, where we profile some of our favorite Washington musicians. This week, we shine the spotlight on the Walkaways.

Photo Courtesy of the Walkaways.

The Walkaways create a sound that some might say is alternative country—but you may as well drop the “alternative” entirely, as it’s pretty much straight-up country. But because the music is inspired by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison, and Wilco, folks who don’t typically like country are likely to enjoy the Walkaways.

The band includes Todd Daniel on lead vocals and guitar; Mark Bower on keys, slide guitar, mandolin, and vocals; Fabio Gutierrez on electric and upright bass and vocals; John Cunningham on drums; and Allen Outlaw on lead guitar. Daniel says the true story of how the band started isn’t entertaining, so he’s sticking with the tale that the guys grew up in Texas as sons of the members of ZZ Top.

Fifty Left to Burn, the Walkaways’ debut album, was released in July. One of the album’s best songs, “Perfect Burning Heart,” is a change of pace from fan favorite “When You’re Gone.” While the content and the song’s melody are somber, the harmonica heard throughout adds just enough to warm the hearts of listeners. Since the release of Fifty Left to Burn, the band is continually working on new music in hopes of getting into the studio again soon.

Check out our Q&A with Daniel before heading to see him at his favorite local venue, Iota, on April 3. The Reserves and Spinning Lucy will also perform.

Name: Todd Daniel.

Age: 30.

Hometown: Cranford, New Jersey.

First song that made you want to play music:
“ ‘Thunder Road’ by Bruce Springsteen, which also happens to be quite possibly the greatest song ever written.”

First instrument:
“Air guitar (anyone who answers differently is either lying or a drummer).”

Local spot to seek inspiration or write music:
“In the shade of any local tree or on the sand of any local beach.”

Best local venue
“Iota Club & Café.”

Best bar to hear music:
“Iota Club & Café (yes, it’s that good).”

Favorite local band other than yours:
“The Reserves.”

Best thing about Washington’s music scene:
“The camaraderie and genuine willingness to put music first demonstrated by other local musicians.”

Worst thing about Washington’s music scene:
“The lack of variety in local radio.”

Craziest tour or show memory:
“After a recent downtown DC show, our piano player, Mark Bower, locked his keys in his (running) car. Driven by a mix of pity and our refusal to let the evening end, we hung around with him at the bar waiting for AAA. By the time they arrived, no one was in any shape to drive. Sweet irony.”

Finish this sentence: “When not making music, you can find me . . .”
“ . . . in a considerably worse mood.”

Rolling Stones or the Beatles?
“Please don’t make me choose.”

Digital download or hard copy?
“Hard copy.”

Rolling Stone
or Spin?
Rolling Stone is still around? Just kidding . . . sort of.”

Club show or festival?
“Club show.”

What’s behind the band’s name?

“After weeks of batting around less-than-perfect choices, fortune smiled upon us in the driving chorus of U2’s ‘I Will Follow.’ ”

What musicians, bands, or performers influence your music?
“Wilco, Bruce Springsteen, Old 97s, the Jayhawks, Van Morrison, Ryan Adams, and too many others to list here.”

What’s the funniest thing that has happened on tour?
“Our drummer, John Cunningham, and I both showed up to a gig wearing matching eye patches. Awkward.”

What’s your favorite band that sounds nothing like you?

“Big Audio Dynamite.”

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