EMQ’s with SICKWALT
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with New York City, USA based Rock ‘n’ Roll band, SickWalt. Huge thanks to vocalist, Walt ‘SickWalt’, for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Walt ‘SickWalt’. Im the lead singer of the band SICKWALT…
It has been my nickname since high school – Sick Walt.
Got the name because of my personality as a kid – high energy, fearless, leader, loud, big-mouth, incendiary, organizer.
So as an American football player in high school (18yrs old), 3 of us storming into the locker room after practice. Covered in sweat and mud, we pass the freshman football locker room. 14-year old skinny adolescent kids that haven’t developed yet. My friend jokingly grabs one of them by the arm and says – “do you know who the fuck this guy is?” And the cowering, naked, just-in-a-towel freshman says – “Oh Yeah! That’s Sick Walt!! EVERYONE knows him!”
Well, we did not expect this answer. I never realized how my actions transcended throughout the student body and they NAMED me! Haaa!!
So, FROM THEN ON, my good friends called me Sick Walt.
And then in college, when others heard the name, they felt it totally accurate, and continued to call me Sick Walt.
I’ve always been a very musical person. Love to sing. Have sung in cover bands. But cut to 2013, I got my friends band on a line-up on the greatest stage in NYC, The Bowery Ballroom. And he says to me- “I think it’s time Sick Walt fronts our band”. So, my – FIRST EVER GIG – was singing to about 300 people at Bowery Ballroom. First few bands come on, ho hum…ok, boring. But then we went on…and the place went nuts! The crowd rushes the stage and people dancing about, throwing stuff at me. It was an amazing and fantastic reaction. So, after the show, my close friend in the band, dumbfounded, says – “Did you just see what happened out there? We GOTTA make music!”
So, he handed me 15 songs that he wrote, I went home and wrote lyrics to all of them and then we recorded. That is where SICKWALT began.
A few EPs to begin with and then- First Full Length Album 2021
How did you come up with your band name?
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
I’m from in and around the 5 Boroughs of New York City. My roots are in Punk, Hardcore, Metal and Thrash. Growing up there was a fantastic heavy metal/thrash/hardcore scene all over Long Island and the City with clubs like L’Amours, Sundance, or The Ritz. Plus, the bigger clubs like Webster Hall, Palladium, Limelight, Roseland would often have heavier shows. Then in the East Village we had Coney Island High, CBGBs, The Continental. On the westside was the Wetlands. Fantastic, amazing times for music. There really was a scene. You made friends just from going to shows, seeing the same faces all the time. Sharing a beer on the corner before we went in. Or diving and crashing into each other in the pit. Nothing like a friendly Doc Marten in the face from a friend! – ‘Hey! Just landed on your head to say hello!’ hahahaha. It was electric, pure energy. A phenomenal bonding of Spirit.
Today, there is no-where near that spirit for rock n roll man. People are not galvanizing at shows. Of course, there are pockets. And those folks are OVER-excited because – ‘Oh my god! I connected with a stranger! And we had a good time! People don’t share the human experience as much. Nor receive human expression with open arms and non-judgement. Everyone loves to complain and point a finger at the wrong stuff. Everyone has a phone in hand and lives through that fuckin screen. Put it down!!! See what’s happening!!! Ya know how a cell phone picture NEVER translates the feeling of what you see in person? SAME thing at a show. PUT IT DOWN AND LOOK AROUND!! We’re all having a great time…MUSIC IS DIVINE!!
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
Our latest release is our full length debut album “SHOVE N’ LOVE”. Available on all streaming platforms and on vinyl. We have a couple of videos out as well that released with the singles.
‘Demand The Stage’ (Official Video)
‘Million Dollar Man’ (Official Video)
The Punk Almighty (Official Video)
Who have been your greatest influences?
Oh man, I love music, and ALL kinds. If it’s GOOD, its good. Im listening to some beautiful jazz right now as I type this.
There are so many bands that were influences in my life.
But the ones that inspired me DIRECTLY to form a band?
OZZY and Black Sabbath – HUGE Sabbath fan. And here is a guy that did not know anything technical about music and is just pure passion and expression with a fantastic dash of crazy. He gave me the inspiration that I could do it too. I did not have to be trained to go for it. I can focus all my unbridled energy into performing. (of course, training should come later to help refine your craft).
IGGY POP and The Stooges – Unbridled Energy! Reckless Abandonment! THAT is where I belong, THAT is where I take my energy. To the stage!! Let’s rip it!!
HENRY ROLLINS/KEITH MORRIS – I love punk. Grew up with Black Flag and Circle Jerks. These guys just let it out. Shout it out loud!! Good messages! In a very pro-active aggressive way. Plus, Rollins’ story of joining Black Flag is fantastic. Quits his job in DC, goes and plays with them once, and they were dumbfounded and knew he was the one. Keith Morris is always about being better. Dont be an asshole.
THE RAMONES – growing up in NY, I know these people. I share a lot in common with them. And to see that four neighbourhood guys like that can create amazing energy and music together and BECOME ABSOLUTE LEGENDS, takes away any fear or insecurities and say…
Fuck it! Let’s do this.
DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND WHAT WILL BE WILL BE.
What first got you into music?
Having music on in my household growing up was definitive in my musicality. Rock n Roll – (Elvis, Beatles, Beach Boys) Classical, Country (Willie, Waylon, Johnny Cash), a little Disco, I was listening to it all through my family. Then I found my ‘punk’ vibration, I’ll never forget it – I was seven years old, jumping on my bed, playing a tennis racket as a guitar, listening to the Beatles – ‘Revolution’. And that opening wicked guitar riff and that vicious scream for Revolution!!! FUCK!!!!! Im getting emotional thinking of that now because it was SO FUCKIN MONUMENTAL in my childhood. It shot me out of a cannon with my fist in the air and ready to fight anything! And question authority and everyone. And BE WHO I AM and with NO FEAR!!
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician, who would it be?
I am a singer. And Im pure passion like Ozzy. Not much musical learning. (I’ve gotten it since). So, firstly, GUITARISTS – I would LOVE to collaborate with an Angus Young or Jack White. Guys that will come with great rock n roll guitar riffs. SINGER – Iggy Pop. Because he was known for being so good at writing SO SIMPLY in short phrases and making them work so well. Yes, he was under the influences much of the time, but he was known to be highly intellectual and had that fantastic knack of keeping it short and simple. And he was the KING of punk. Raw, passionate, energy, just unleashing it with reckless abandonment in his performances. And finally, PRODUCER – Rick Rubin. The guy is magic. So much of what he approaches turns to gold. Rick would definitely help expand all my strengths as a singer and explore my range and direct them into song. Man, what a cast!!
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Hmm…I’ve lost count of all the festivals taking place these days. Sorry. BUT I will say this – Jane’s Addiction is a HUGE influence of mine. (I know I didn’t mention above, sorry). And I was standing right under Perry Farrell at the FIRST Lollapalooza tour. And it was a magical day/night for sure. And that tour went on for years and ALWAYS HAD DIVERSE ACTS. And THAT is what I would want to be part of. From Jane’s to Ministry, to Body Count, to Rollins Band, to Beastie Boys, to Siouxsie Sioux, etc…
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Hmm…A kiss and a grab…ha!
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
Lead by Example, Talk is Cheap.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
Man, music is vibration. It is intrinsically part of our make up as human beings. We ARE vibration. I LOVE it. I love to perform. I love to create and sing with a great group of people. What do I hate? The problems that occur within a band among the bandmates. The head-stuff that causes the conflicts.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
STOP basing bands on the fucking NUMBERS!!!! BASE IT ON THE MUSIC!!!! THE FEELING!!! IS IT GOOD?? DOES IT CREATE A STIR WITHIN??? Not Likes, Followers, Subscribers… horseshit! It’s SO HARD for a band to break through these days because their success is based on numbers of popularity. All the wrong reasons. It’s so fucking depressing.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
STOOGES – “FunHouse”
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Vinyl. I loved them all for all their reasons. Im not waving a big flag or getting in anyone’s face about it. I can enjoy them all. But man, when you listen to vinyl on an above average system, it’s just warmer, and more present, and you hear the full production of the music. the balance. What you were MEANT to hear. The Truth of that production. Vinyl man…
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
Ah…I dunno. We play prisons and entertain the inmates, which has been amazing and fulfilling. Some great shows. We played a women’s prison to a packed house of 100 women going nuts for every one of our songs and singing along because they memorized the words from looking online at the prison library!! Fantastic…Let me say, that I LOVE performing rock n roll. I LOVE my music. But one of the greatest gigs EVER for me, was SickWalt opened for PUNK ROCK KARAOKE. That band was Stan Lee (The Dickies ((who we have opened for)), Steve Soto (Punk legend RIP. Great guy! Agent Orange, Adolescents), Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks, Bad Religion) and drummer Darrin Pfeiffer (Goldfinger). Well, we opened to a packed house of punk fans and killed it. Then the Karaoke began, and I got up and sang STOOGES – ‘Search and Destroy’. NOW – this song has been my anthem since 14 years old!! And now I’m singing it with all the punk legends that made it my anthem. Holy shit was it emotional. Didn’t miss a beat. It was like we had been touring for 2 years playing that song. The place went NUTS! And Steve Soto! Greg Hetson! and Stan Lee! Turn to me and nod like – great fuckin job, you killed it. I came off stage. My brother, (my closest music friend all my life) is not big with compliments, and had this drop-dead face of amazement and came up to me and said – ‘I have NEVER seen you like that ever! You were someone else up there.” And I was…SickWalt live shows are special, but something else happened to me that night. It was absolutely DIVINE.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
Well, we always have to have a side gig. I work in TV Production. I’ve also been an actor for a long time, and had a radio show for 3 years. So, if not music, I’d probably go back to those.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Bon Scott, Iggy Pop, Johnny Cash, Muhammed Ali, Willie Nelson.
What’s next for the band?
Well, im writing and creating new music now during this digital Covid age. I’ll produce that and release it online. Then, hopefully Covid will run its course and live music will get back in swing. I hope to set up a tour overseas at some point and play some rock n roll where it’s appreciated and show that part of the world what SickWalt is all about!!!
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
@SICKWALT on all.
Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Ahhh shit! Gonna be honest, not lame and google them or some shit, but I DON’T KNOW!!! I’m sorry. I can’t wait for someone over there to show me the Jaffa Cakes experience!!!
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Nah, keep it simple. Rock n Roll is an amazing Spirit. Keep nurturing it and keep it alive in your bones and state of mind. It keeps us who we are. Builds Self-Identity, No Fear, Responsibility (DIY). Makes us Pro-Active.
ROCK N ROLL IS VIRTUE. A RELIGION!
Thank you very much for having me. Can’t wait to hit the stage with you soon.
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