Manhattan-based PT Walkley is a musical renaissance man walking the fine, seldom traveled line between mass entertainment and deeply personal songcraft. An accomplished composer for film and television, Walkley has also displayed a rich, melodic indie rock-cum-singer-songwriter repertoire through a string of critically acclaimed full-lengths and EPs. ”It may sound strange, but I fell in love with the blues the moment I saw Better Off Dead as a kid.” says Walkley. “Thanks to that movie, I heard Muddy Waters’ “Mannish Boy” for the first time, and there was no turning back – I had to pick up a guitar.”
Like many modern composers, his early days were spent in bands traversing the congested NYC rock club circuit. A chance encounter with actor/director Ed Burns at a Lower East Side guitar shop led to the two becoming fast friends and Walkley becoming Burns’ go-to composer for a decade and counting, including work for Burns’ and Steven Spielberg’s upcoming ‘60s cop drama Public Morals (TNT). An adventurous composer, Walkley also writes all the music and voices several characters for hit Nickelodeon series Team Umizoomi and has crafted original music for Sesame Street.
2008 marked Walkley’s first foray into the commercial world, with Dewar’s licensing his song “Up The Walls” for a promotional campaign. The jittery, propulsive track off Walkley’s first solo release, PT Walkley and the Adventures of Track Rabbit, captured the ears of advertising execs around the world, and Walkley has since composed original music for and lent his songs to national TV spots including MasterCard, McDonald’s, GE, Mercedes, Coca-Cola, New York Life and Starbucks.
Mr. Macy Wakes Alone, a dense, orchestral concept album released in 2009, featured collaborations with guitarist Larry Campbell, string arranger David Campbell and Sean Lennon. Walkley received high praise for the record, with NPR calling it “shining and triumphant” and Atlanta Music Guide describing it as “the art of storytelling brought back to life.”
In 2012, Walkley composed original music for two prominent Super Bowl commercials – the cinematic grandiosity of “Journey” for Bud Light and rollicking New Orleans jazz of “Parade” for Ritz. The two pieces were written and recorded within the same week, epitomizing the sonic versatility Walkley has come to be known for. The two EPs that followed (What’s What and The Ghost of Chivalry), marked a return to his ‘60s rock roots and led Wall Street Journal to call Walkley ”a power-pop singer-songwriter in the tradition of David Bowie, Alex Chilton, Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney.”
Though Walkley’s full-time composer gig makes touring virtually impossible, his live bona fides include opening for Coldplay at Madison Square Garden and Weezer at Hammerstein Ballroom as well as playing at the last All Points West Music & Arts Festival.
Walkley’s forthcoming LP, Shoulders, marks his most personal work to date. Teaming up with Grammy, Emmy and Tony award-winning producer Bill Sherman, Walkley channels the divergent emotions of a bittersweet year – from the birth of his son to the death of his best friend – and delivers an inspired song cycle rooted in indie rock with a heavy dose of classic R&B. The dichotomy of hope and mourning is explored through the warm texture of “Leeches” and the blistering “Sirens”. “Eat You Up” and “Lost My Way” find the mild-mannered Walkley flashing fangs at the subject of a major falling out while “Hello, Eyelids” occupies a gorgeously sparse folk realm like a distant cousin to Nick Drake. And nothing is as it seems in a Walkley-penned tune. Is he in a whorehouse in “Rose-Colored Glasses”? Or Perhaps a jingle house? Who is he chasing through “No Time to Sweat”? A woman, or fame? He muses on death, rebirth and the importance of family through the 13 tracks of Shoulders, a witty and meticulously structured power pop gem.
PT Walkley’s voluminous and diverse catalogue showcases an ability to span and blend different genres and a brilliant mind equally capable of mining the human condition and scoring a children’s program in the same afternoon.