Joe Walsh to Debut New Music at VetsAid 2021: Exclusive
Walsh tells UCR he's been working on new material at home with guitarist Waddy Wachtel, bassist Lee Sklar, drummer Russ Kunkel and keyboardist Benmont Tench from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. "We just all went into the studio and made music," Walsh says, "and those guys are some of the best guys, so it came out beyond my wildest expectation."
Footage from the sessions will be included during his VetsAid 2021: The Basement Show stream, Walsh said. He expects for the LP to arrive "the first part of next year"; this would be Walsh's first studio album since Analog Man came out in 2012.
"I've been working on it for a long time," Walsh says, "but the whole year of COVID [in 2020] I didn't feel much like doing anything. I pretty much watched TV and ate chocolate chip cookies for a year, but I’m back working now. I've got maybe five really good songs, and three of them recorded and two to go. And we just filmed the process of recording and how songs are created and all that stuff, and that'll be part of [VetsAid]."
Tickets are available via vetsaid.veeps.com for the online event, which will also feature unreleased performances from the three VetsAid live concerts held in 2017-19, including ZZ Top and James Taylor, among others. There will be a tour of Walsh's home studio and guitar collection, along with a Q&A drawn from 1,500 queries submitted by fans.
"We got through 50, and it's a real quick Q&A and we move right along," says Walsh, who had planned a live show for Columbus, Ohio, but pulled back due to surging COVID cases. "Some of the answers were spontaneous, and pretty crazy answers to pretty crazy questions."
Helping veterans is a personal quest for Walsh, who grew up in a Gold Star family: His father, a U.S. Air Force flight instructor, was killed in a plane crash in 1949. This year, VetsAid will train a spotlight on agencies that help our homeless military. The stream will include Walsh's visit to a Long Beach facility in California with a similar focus.
"I can't stand seeing a homeless vet with a piece of cardboard asking for help next to a freeway. That just tweaks me," Walsh explains. "I think I can make a difference. There are big organizations and there's really small groups of vet-run centers across the country, and in some places that's all you've got.
"I'm trying to find some of the ones that are the best and keep them going," Walsh added, and "find places where we can make a difference and funnel some money that way."
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"It's different because of the COVID bubble," Walsh acknowledges. "The three hours onstage is wonderful, but the logistics of getting to the next show and not having anybody test positive is a lot of work. It's a lot more like a job, but it's worth it for that three hours onstage."
"The reason I do [music] is because they did it, so of course I studied it scientifically. I'm still learning from those guys," Walsh notes. "I was fascinated by how kind of dysfunctional they were, but how completely brilliant they were and how, when it was time, it all came together just perfectly. It was a great insight into band dynamics, all of the fascination of having a relationship in a band.
"It was fascinating to watch theirs and kind of compare them to some of my experiences, like being in the Eagles," Walsh adds. "There's all kinds of tension, but it's creative tension, and it's needed. There were just so many things I can relate to."
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