Doc Walker – 16 & 1

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Release Date
August 29, 2011

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Where Doc Walker’s 2009 release, GO, focused on the endless comings and goings that characterize life on the road, their new album, 16&1, finds the band looking back at the
roots that they’ve grown so deep over time, celebrating how far they’ve come since first putting them down and moving forward all the stronger for having done so.

That said 16&1 doesn’t play like some pensive re-examination of the past. It may find the band taking a trip down memory lane at times, but it’s a lane with a big old bush party waiting at the end of it, and a trip Doc Walker seem intent on taking at high speed in a vintage Silverado… Named for the crossroads of two major prairie lifelines not far from where Doc Walker settled in to record their 5th record on Canadian country label, Open Road Recordings, 16&1 represents something of a homecoming for the Manitoba based band, particularly for lead singer, Chris Thorsteinson. In fact, by choosing a former schoolhouse in Westbourne, Manitoba as the site for recording the album, Thorsteinson is touching down very close to home, literally across the road from the house he grew up in. “From grades one to six it’s actually where I went to school,” he says. “I never thought we’d be recording our seventh record in a town of 100 people, in a classroom where I used to sit, while I’m looking out the window at my parents place.”

Although many the songs on 16&1 were born out of the region the band grew up in, guitarist/vocalist Murray Pulver says, it also represents a departure from past efforts, both sonically and in terms of the band’s recording process, which, for Thorsteinson, involved a dramatic expansion of his role in the studio. When Westbourne Old School first closed down, Thorsteinson and his father bought the property, but were unsure of what to do with it until the band began looking for a place to record. After going a little gear crazy while trolling E-Bay for equipment to put into his freshly christened ‘Old School Studio’, Thorsteinson soon found himself acting as de facto assistant engineer for 16&1 producer, John MacArthur Ellis (Jane Siberry, Jeremy Fisher, Ridley Bent) – an experience that’s changed his perspective on recording irrevocably.

“Assistant engineers are my new heroes,” he says. “They just never stop.” Typically, when Doc Walker recorded in Nashville in the past, Thorsteinson admits he was often the first to light out of the studio when his vocals were finished – Not an option when you’re both studio owner and the person largely responsible for outfitting the studio with occasionally impenetrable, vintage recording technology.

Overall, however, recording close to home resulted in a far more relaxed vibe says guitarist/vocalist Dave Wasyliw. “When you’re spending $1000.00 a day in a studio, you’re
always watching the clock.” It’s very much like taking a long cab ride, he adds. “You’re always watching the meter and that’s not the best way to get your best performance on
tape.” “Musically,” Pulver adds, “it also really made things flow. We had no pre-conceived notions as to what something should sound like.” That’s clear right from the opening riff of lead single ‘Country Girl’, a song that showcases the band’s adoption of a decidedly more freewheeling, riff-based, electric sound that stands in stark contrast to their previous acoustic heavy efforts.