In some senses, Jason Walker has just made his debut to the music world. With a soaring vocal line on the chorus of Audio Adrenaline
's latest single, "Believer," he's turned more than a few heads—not an easy feat when you're essentially the backup to Kevin Max, one of the most recognizable voices in Christian music.
But in reality, Walker has been working behind the scenes in Christian music for the better part of a decade, writing songs, producing and yes, performing in groups and as a solo act. His songwriting connections landed him in Know Hope Collective
, the experimental worship group put together by former Audio Adrenaline frontman Mark Stuart.
I sat down with Walker to talk about his unique path and personal calling after his Creation Festival Northwest performance with Audio Adrenaline—a show that few would've guessed would be one of Walker's last with the band. The group recently announced that Walker, along with guitarist Dave Ghazarian, had left Audio Adrenaline —after just a year in the new alignment—to pursue other interests.
In this exclusive interview, Jason talks about his mission as a songwriter and performer, and touches on some of his other projects—which there are many.
You've got a lot going on with Audio Adrenaline, with "Believer," the new single that's out where you're voice is awesome. And then you've got your own solo stuff. Just for you, really did the whole thing kind of kick off with Know Hope Collective? Is that where kind of all of this momentum began?
I've been a songwriter in Nashville for Word Publishing for the last seven years. I came to town when I was 18 to be a writer and be an artist, but I kind of wanted to get better at songwriting first. That was going to be my avenue to break into it I guess.
So I signed a publishing deal and I started writing. That's how I met Mark Stuart, through writing. He'd kind of taken a break from writing for a while and it was through a mutual friend that he got setup to write with me and it was kind of just an instant connection. We just started writing. The first song that we wrote was the song that we played out with the Know Hope Collective.
Which one was it?
A song called "Jealous God." It was the first song we ever wrote and it just came together so smoothly and we felt like there was something happening here. We ended up writing a bunch more songs for that record and then I went out and played with the Know Hope Collective. That was how I got introduced to Audio Adrenaline. It was through the writing process and through Mark.
We had a great time. I toured with Know Hope for about a year, a year and a half and then just back to writing and doing my own thing. It was funny. Even back then we talked about Audio A being reincarnated and if it could happen, what it would look like, but it was always hypothetical. I kind of walked away for a minute, and here we are—back at it.
That's great. Did you write "Attention" as well? Love, love that song.
I did. There was another guy who wrote the chorus to that and Mark kind of brought the chorus of that song in and then we wrote verses and the bridge and stuff like that around it. That was a fun project to be part of because it kind of had no rules. There was really no label really telling us what to do. It was kind of an indie project, so to speak. We could just do whatever we wanted and made the record that we really liked.
So now you're into the Audio Adrenaline thing. Has it been a year yet?
It's been about a year. Technically, all the guys got brought together last summer. Our first show was in, I want to say, October of last year. First tour was this spring. This is the first festival season we're kind going through and it's really like we're a baby band at this point. We've played 60 or 70 shows, and we talked to the guys in the Newsboys. Even they've had this revamp kind of re-launch process, but at this point they've done 500 or 600 shows. They're just that many more years ahead of us. We're feeling like we're cutting into it though pretty well.
How's it feel and how are the guys? How's the vibe?
It's feeling great. It definitely feels a little bit—I don't want to say an uphill battle, but it's a lot of work because it's a newer band. But we also have this legacy and this name that we're kind of going alongside of and underneath. We've got to live up to that, but at the same time we're trying to figure each other out and trying to figure out who we are as guys on the road and how we work well with each other and what all of our roles are.
I feel like we're doing a really good job, especially the last couple of shows. I feel like we've really kind of started to hit a stride and people have been getting really excited about it and the signing lines have been really long, which has been encouraging, it's been awesome.
You've got your own solo stuff, too, and you just came out with a record recently. How do you compare that for people who've never heard it with the stuff you do in Audio Adrenaline?
It's kind of a separate thing. That's really what I was doing before Audio Adrenaline started, and that stuff is all just kind of popish, mainstream kind of stuff. We've pitched it a lot for TV and film, like One Tree Hill and Private Practice and things like that, but it's really just kind of emotional music. It's emotional. It just kind of says what it needs to say. It doesn't hide behind anything or sugarcoat anything. It just kind of says whatever you're feeling.
It's a different outlet. For me, that's what I loved about writing is you have so many outlets. I don't have to just stick with one thing. I can write all across the board and do whatever I want to do, which is awesome.
So are you still writing for Word?
Mm-hm. Still writing for Word. Just re-signed with them this year.
Any songs coming out soon for any artists that you know about?
I have a song on the new Newsboys record. It's called "God is Moving." I haven't even heard the finished cut of it, so I'm excited to hear it along with everybody else. Then we've got "Believer" out with Audio A right now, which is running around radio stations, which is cool, which I'm singing the chorus on that one, which is fun.
Did you co-write that one?
I co-wrote that one. That was one of the early ones that we wrote for the record. I'd written kind of a different song and I sent that song to Mark and he got amped up about it, which amped me up. So then I wrote this new song or this new piano part and sent that to him and then he came in with this idea called "Believer," and kind of had this story about this guy named Derek Rebello, who is a blind surfer. He was born blind and his dad had a prophecy he was going to be a surfer. He grows up and he's a surfer now and he surfs on faith. He goes out and can't see anything, but he feels it. He's a Christian guy so he gives up to God. It's awesome.
That's great and the video for that just came out as well.
It was fun. We went to San Diego and shot that one on the beach. Had Derek involved in it. It was fun.
What would you say, if you had to sum up what your personal mission is? What do you feel intrinsically that you're here to do?
I love relating to people. I think that's what got me into songwriting was just I saw and recognized how relatable it is. How much I connected to songs growing up. I loved just the connection you'd feel with somebody that you don't even know, but you feel like they're saying something that you're saying.
That's my mission. I really love relating to people and connecting with people on a real level and a heart level. I love being honest and keeping it real and just lowering the veil or whatever, lifting the veil and lowering the curtain, however you want to see it. I'd say that's it. I want to connect to people.
You do that so differently with both sides of your career. The solo side of stuff is very much about life stuff, what we go through and the Audio Adrenaline side is about faith stuff. It's not like they're two different things.
I don't ever want to hide it in my solo stuff. I feel like I sometimes get an outlet to just say things that I maybe wouldn't get to say in other outlets. That's what I love about that. It's not necessarily a hiding. It's just saying things that are more in this pocket than this pocket.
Different realms. Different venues. What's next for you? Do you perform around as a solo artist?
I'm actually digging into that. I haven't been for the past couple of years. I've just been making records and we've done TV and film stuff and I've been writing. I started producing last year. I did a band called Unspoken, had a single out called "Who You Are," which was really cool.
I'm kind of getting into that too. I'm producing bands, but I'm just looking for a couple-a-year kind of thing. I really don't have time to do that much in between touring and doing my own stuff. But definitely getting out there and playing some shows. I'm actually working on a side project right now with a girl from L.A. She's a music supervisor actually for movies and stuff like that. It's real fun. It's kind of Beatles-esque, kind of left of center.
What's it called?
Our project is called Our Patchwork Hearts. That's our band name. I don't know what the EP is called yet at this point.
When does that come out?
I'm going to finish it later this month. It should be out sometime in October I'd say.
How can we be praying for you?
Life on the road. It's tough to be away from families. I've got a wife back home.
How long have you been married?
Been married five and a half years. We were high school sweethearts. We started dating when I was 16 and the whole deal. I love her, man.
So for me it's balance right now. For me it's trying to find the balance because I had this whole career going on before this and that's still happening, so I've just added this on top of it. I kind of have these two things going simultaneously. It's a little bit hard for me to try and find that balance in between of how much to give time to each and then I still have a wife at home that I want to hang out with. It's just finding that peace and balance in all of this.