Although he’s probably best known as the creative mastermind behind the rising psych rock act Grand Master, the Lincoln, NE-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Derek M. Walker is someone, who in his own words “knows nothing about music.” Walker initially relocated to Los Angeles for some adventure and to pursue music and film production despite not having a formal education in either one.
Walker spent a several year stint as the lead guitarist of Mere Mortals and then spent several years attempting to write and produce films and work on other creative pursuits; however, his obsession with music drove him back into his home studio, where he worked on writing and recording the demos that would eventually become Grand Master’s soon-to-be released album I Am Living. Initially Walker didn’t have intention of professionally recording or releasing the material but after he had written almost a dozen demos, he wondered to himself, what the purpose was if he didn’t do anything with them.
The Lincoln-born, Los Angeles-based mutli-instraumetnalist began the formal recording process by recording guitar, bass and vocals with his former Mere Mortals bandmate and current member of United Ghosts’ Axel Steurwald at Stuerwald’s Bedrock Studio. Walker didn’t make any changes to the material; he just duplicated what was already there with some vintage equipment. He then took the completed files over to Grammy Award-winning producer Mark Rains, who recorded drums with Bad Radio’s and United Ghosts’ Joey Ponchetti at Rains’ Station House studio — with Rains also mixing the album.
The album was then sent to JJ Golden, who mastered the material at Golden Mastering. Of course, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walker had to complete his portion of the mixing and mastering process remotely, listening to mixes of headphones and then in hi car, comparing sounds and changes and sending notes. He’d wait a few days for changes to be made and they would all repeat the process again. But throughout it all. Walker says that he enjoyed the freedom of an untraditional songwriting process — one in which, he wasn’t concerned with song structure or arrangements. If he felt like singing a verse, he did so; if he felt like adding a chorus, he did so and if he didn’t, he it wasn’t added.
Slated for a September 25, 2020 release I Am Living reportedly finds the Lincoln-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist making the sort of music you’d cruise down the highway and bob your head while playing. I Am Living’s latest single, album title track “I Am Living” is an arena friendly psych rock song centered around a persistent, motorik groove, enormous fuzz and distortion pedal power chords, thunderous drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook. And while sonically, the song brings Songs for the Deaf-era Queens of the Stone Age to mind, the song manages to feel remarkably upbeat.
The recently released video features incredibly pixellated footage of cars driving down late night streets and of Walker bobbing his head and singing along. It’s eerie yet appropriately trippy.