Interview by Roxanne Blanford
The Walk Ons:
Krikor Daglian (guitar/vocals)
Phil Wedo (bass/vocals)
Alex Still (drums/backing vocals).
Formed: Mid-2003, New York City
If ET is discovered by the Mars Rover and comes down to earth, letâ€™s hope the first sounds it hears are the edgy and hook-filled, yet melodically compelling musical strains of New York Cityâ€™s post-punk/post-alt rock trio, The Walk Ons.
Because, letâ€™s face it: Even aliens need to rock out once in a while.
With only one promising (albeit embryonic) EP released to date, and a handful of impressive local gigs under their collective belt (NYC's CBGB's, Siberia, Rare), these mere babes in the rock n roll woods exhibit a tremendous degree of maturity and grounded vision concerning what could well be a roller coaster career as recording and performing musicians. Big Things may yet be in store for The Walk Ons, but first they have to come to terms with the real-life distractions brought on by college, day-jobs, and seemingly never-ending student loan payments.
The origins of this young band reach back to the halcyon days of the Dot.Com Explosion when guitar-playing troubadour/singer Krigor Daglian and sometime stand-up comic/bass player Phil Wedo toyed with the idea of forming a band while toiling away at work. Alex Still, a drummer with ties to Daglian that go back to â€˜the old neighborhoodâ€™, sat in on a jam session with Daglian, Wedo and another guitarist/vocalist. Soon enough, the trio known as The Walk Ons was born.
And while their parents and professors might n
Photographer: Rich Stillwell
ot yet fully comprehend how these degreed young men seek to navigate their Colby College/Penn State/Vassar College educations onto the road to Rock Star-dom, talking to these three makes it glaringly apparent their combined classroom experiences were not all a complete waste of time.
Opening up to MUSIC EMISSIONS recently, the members of The Walk Ons shared their thoughts and impressions about music, life and what it all means in the larger scheme of things.
MUSIC EMISSIONS: Has this thingâ€¦music, being a part of a bandâ€¦ has it always been something you knew youâ€™d make happen?
â€œI pretty much wanted to be in a band before I even knew how to play guitarâ€?, says lead singer and guitarist Krikor Daglian. â€œ Iâ€™ve wanted to do this since I was about 17. A bit later than most who pursue this kind of thing, and I definitely didnâ€™t pursue music as heavily in college as I do now. But music comes first. When I got the bug, it bit me hard.â€?
Wedo echoes this sentiment: â€œWhen I started playing bass, I anticipated playing out with a band someday, sure, but in a way, I was [always] making it happen. Achieving a goal takes effort, but [you also have to] enjoy what youâ€™re doing in the moment.â€?
â€œWhen I started playing drums in the third gradeâ€?, Still begins, â€œit was just something you did: you picked an instrument and you played in the orchestra. Getting to play in a band like this, creating music for the first time in my life [has been] an instance of serendipity and my life is better for it.â€?
MUSIC EMISSIONS: What other pursuits distracted you along the way?, and do you consider them to distractions at all, and, just how fulfilling is this pursuit of a career in music?
â€œAs far back as I can rememberâ€?, Still reflects, â€œnone of my guidance counselors or teachers ever led me to believe that Rock Star was a job option, so I went to school and studied English â€“ only slightly more useful than a degree in Rock Stardom. From then on, my determination to make a living as a writer took over and music was pushed aside for jobs at newspapers and magazines. I still consider myself a writer first, but thatâ€™s a craft I can put to use in the context of The Walk Ons, so itâ€™s really a complement rather than a distraction.â€?
â€œIf not for my college education, I might not qualify for my current day jobâ€?, says Wedo. â€œAnd, I might not necessarily need [the current job] if not for the student loans I borrowed to attend school..although this entire process prohibits me from working on my artistic goals full-time, it allowed me the opportunity and background to decide which goals are worth pursuing. By writing, editing, or performing comedy, [we] canâ€™t avoid thinking more creatively as individuals -- a process which is bound to help our collective musical expression.â€?
â€œI agreeâ€?, Daglian chimes in. â€œThereâ€™s something great about creating something artistic, working with two other people. Itâ€™s often difficult trying to create something you have in mind, and then collaborate with others â€“ you donâ€™t have total control. It can sometimes be frustrating, but if can also result in music going to good places you hadnâ€™t originally anticipated.â€?
Still continues, saying, â€œNow that Iâ€™m playing again, and getting the hang of writing and performing, I would definitely find it hard to live without this part of my life. Listening to rock music is what made my childhood and adolescence so much fun and being part of the creative side now feels like a natural part of growing as a person and a musician.â€?
The music of The Walk Ons is a uniquely identifiable, yet hard-to-define sound. All at once brooding and vibrant, emotional, yet restrained.
â€œI can't say what our sound is, but it finds its way through the vocals, the drum style, and the little things the guitar and bass plays. Since we only have three pieces, we sometimes find ourselves limited and have to consciously work to not make every song sound too punky, and get variety. I still think we have something identifiable in whatever we play.â€?
The Walk Ons tend to present themselves with self-imposed challenges, forcing them to write or play more creatively. As Wedo says, that way â€˜ we canâ€™t be accused of being stylistically predictable.â€?
MUSIC EMISSIONS: How do you manage to balance the music and the band work with your â€˜day-to-day/gotta pay the billsâ€™ lives?
Daglian answers, â€œOur jobs right now are such that we have some flexibility, which helps. Plus, we all work jobs that arenâ€™t too demanding in terms of thinking, which leaves room for thinking about music. But, scheduling rehearsals is always tough, especially finding a time everyone can do, and then hoping the studio has a space open.â€?
â€œSince rehearsals and gigs are usually after working hours, I havenâ€™t had to do much more than carry gear with me in the morningâ€?, says Wedo.
â€œIâ€™m staring a real job for the first time in about 2 yearsâ€?, offers Still. â€œI think scheduling rehearsals will be a bit more difficult, but like anything else, if youâ€™re dedicated, you make time.â€?
There are plans to play out more, perhaps beyond the tri-state NY region, and to record a fuller, â€˜properâ€™ EP, which the boys aspire to distribute freely to the masses. Expanding the band website (thewalkons.home.mindspring.com) and developing a larger, loyal fan base throughout New York City will also be a chief focus for The Walk Ons in 2004.
And, speaking of a larger fan base, MUSIC EMISSIONS had to ask:
â€œIf you met an alien from Mars, and it had never heard your music before, what song of yours would you want it to hear, and why?
Daglian- â€œTurn On The Radioâ€? â€“ itâ€™s the catchiest. Gotta hook them in, even the aliens.
Wedo- â€œWasnâ€™t Madeâ€?, because itâ€™s the song to which weâ€™ve each contributed the most.
Still- â€œWasnâ€™t Madeâ€?, because we all worked really hard on the structure and it represents a true collaborative effort. Itâ€™s the most difficult song to perform, but the most gratifying to pull off. Plus, I would hope the Martians would take the song as their anthem to celebrate President Bushâ€™s Temporary Worker Program and the freedom to work in our great country, free from the stigmas and dangers formerly placed upon the non-naturalized, extra-terrestrial workforce.â€?
Letâ€™s just wait and see about that.