TRIBEZA's 10 to Watch 2015 | Walker Lukens

Okay, okay, living in Austin, you’ve probably already heard Walker Lukens’ music. The Side Arms lead singer has been named a KUTX “One to Watch,” and his single “Every Night” was called “a delectable concoction” by SPIN. (Whether a song can be “delectable” is unclear, but what we do know is “Every Night” is a really good tune.) With an album produced by Spoon’s Jim Eno slated for release in 2016, we’re betting that next year everyone both in Austin and out will have heard the delightful Walker Lukens.

Catch us up on your past year:

I put out a song called “Every Night” back in January and have mainly been riding the wave of that ever since. My backing band, The Side Arms, and I played a lot of shows and put a lot of miles on SaVANtha Fox [our van], shook a lot of hands, ate a lot of tacos, slept in a lot of uncomfortable places, used a lot of drink tickets, listened to a lot of Marc Maron and that Usher song, “I Don’t Mind.” Most importantly, we’ve also been working on an album with Jim Eno [drummer of Spoon] at his studio, Public Hi-Fi. It’s been a good year.

Why Austin?

I met the drummer from one of my favorite bands in a bar. As fate would have it, he’d been listening to my last record because he’d heard the single on KUTX. Fast forward a few years and we just finished making a full-length record together. What’s not to love about being a musician in this town?

Is there anything that frustrates you about living / working in Austin?

This could be the greatest city in the world if more Austinites knew how to make unprotected left turns and voted in local elections.

Who is your creative icon?

I like artists that go big even if they strike out a few times: Serge Gainsbourg, Roberto Bolaño, David Bowie, Nina Simone, Picasso, Prince.

What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had given you 5 years ago?

In a Marc Maron interview with Mike Myers, Myers says, “Cast yourself.” Start doing the thing that you want to be doing now. Don’t wait around for opportunities to come to you.

What drives you?

Writing songs is sheer compulsion for me at this point. I think like a lot of artists, I would love to be a small part of the history that I’ve been obsessed with my whole life. I want lots of people to know my songs.

How do you get it all done?

As Nasty Nas hath told us, “I never sleep ‘cause sleep is the cousin of death.” Also, everyone in my band pushes me to be better: Zac Catanzaro, Roger Mason, Kyle Vonderau, Mckenzie Griffin.

How do you relax?

I’m really good at having fun, but not so good at relaxing. I’m hoping to learn how to do that before I die.

What makes you laugh?

When my dog, Hank Williams IV, jumps effortlessly over my fence into the neighbor’s backyard. Then, without missing a step, bounds to the other side (which thankfully has a six foot tall fence) and begins barking ferociously at whatever dog, tall man with a hat, or stroller-totting Manor mom is walking by. Meanwhile, I get to enjoy the spectacle unseen from my backyard without any shame or embarrassment.

What are you proudest of professionally?

I am really proud of the last record I made, Devoted, and the record that I just finished with Jim. It was a big moment to play with The Side Arms at Blues on the Green and to be part of a sold out show at The Troubadour in LA.

What helps you get through creative blocks?

There’s a Henry Miller quote I really like; “When you can’t create, you can work.” People make too much of the difference between creative work and other kinds of work. Elbow grease, grit, coffee, deep breaths, exercise. If all else fails, read a book, see a movie, phone a friend.

Tell us what to expect from you in 2016:

I am going to put out a lot of music and play a lot of shows. I’m going to annoy you about that on the Internet.


Portraits by Bill Sallans | Styling by Ashley Horsley | Hair by Gabrielle van Der Meer | Make up by Bethany Renfro of Lip Service

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