“You can’t be freaked out by past success,” is the thing Doc Walker has learned after earning group-of-the-year awards for three years running from the Canadian Country Music Association.
The band’s singer Chris Thorsteinson said the pressure for a strong follow-up album was high right after Doc Walker’s 2001 CD Curve yielded the hits She Hasn’t Always Been This Way and Rocket Girl.
“We were thinking what do we do now?” Thorsteinson recalled.
The Manitoba group that performs Thursday at the Memorial Centre in Red Deer “decided to keep making the best music possible,” he added — and the effort is paying off.
Not only was the 2008 album Beautiful Life hugely popular, so was Doc Walker’s latest, traditional country CD Go, which produced the singles Coming Home, If I Fall, and I’m Gonna Make You Love Me and garnered the group its fourth overall CCMA Group of the Year award last month.
Thorsteinson credits hard work for the group’s accomplishments, but he and members Dave Wasyliw and Murray Pulver also aren’t content to repeat past formulas.
Go is country in the vein of Thorsteinson’s idols, Waylon Jennings and Dan Seals — Thorsteinson is even proud of writing the group’s first-ever three-chord country song with Victoria Banks (I’m Gonna Make You Love Me).
But Doc Walker’s next album is going to be something different — an up-tempo, breezy party album, promised the singer. “We’re not afraid of changing formulas. We’ve changed formulas so much it just keeps it fresh for fans.”
Thorsteinson doesn’t expect to drop out of the country genre — or off country radio playlists — anytime soon, even though Wasyliw and Pulver are more rock ‘n’ roll than he is.
“My voice is pretty country,” he added, with a chuckle, “so it’s not like I can all of a sudden sound like Led Zeppelin.”
The singer recently bought a four-room school in his hometown of Westburn, north of Portage la Prairie.
It’s the same school he attended as a kid, so Thorsteinson has a sense of nostalgia about it, combined with an actual purpose for the building.
“I thought it would be a cool place to write songs and jam together,” which is something Doc Walker members haven’t really done in a decade, he added.
Rather than just writing a song at the kitchen table, and trying it out later with the band, Thorsteinson thought it would be like old times to have new music organically evolve out of jam sessions.