On the merch table at Philly’s W/N W/N (Win Win) Coffee Bar lays a pile of t-shirts that say, simply, “A Day Without Love Is Not Punk.” Clearly this has a double meaning, as the act I’m here to see is called A Day Without Love – ostensibly a punk act. Well what, then, is punk? A Day Without Love has all the trappings – loud guitars, emotional and gripping lyrics – but these songs put the real powers of the genre on display. If punk is about honesty, A Day Without Love is ten times as honest. If punk is about speaking truth to power and creating a bond between performer and audience, A Day Without Love is masterful in this craft.
A Day Without Love is the stage name of Brian Walker, an incredibly friendly and creative young man. He has a charisma that’s almost unreal, and speaking with him is always a pleasure. Of course, his ambition, too, is clear. In conversation before the show he tells me that he has scheduled a number of video sessions in the coming months and that he’s afraid he’s going to forget about one. Brian is about to embark on a weekend tour with his friend Liz de Lise, another local act. This is a man about to step out into the world, and he has earned his place.
Photo by Amanda Silberling
Brian is preparing to release a new record called Solace, produced and mixed at Philly’s Fresh Produce Studios by Jake Detwiler, and mastered by Mumblr’s Scott Stitzer. It explores the inner problems of young adulthood in an America still divided by race, set to a biting and energizing punk rock soundscape. One of the most remarkable sections of the record is in fact a conversation recorded with his grandmother on “I Hope It Ends,” on her experiences and ideas about racism and religion, recurring topics on the 13-track LP. As per its press release, Solace is “not exactly the documentation of a coming-of-age moment.”
His honesty comes from years of self-reflection, of the kind achieved, unfortunately, through incredible suffering. Thankfully, Brian came through the other side with lyrics that hide nothing and take nothing for granted – short, sharp bursts of sincerity. Brian’s world is his word, a place where spiritual growth is attached to self-healing through his art. Crucial to Brian’s stage presence is his recognition of the importance of context. Toward the end of his set, between songs, he gives a short speech, opening up about how his struggles with major depression have affected his life and his music.
He backs up his advocacy for sufferers of mental illness with a connection to the charitable organization Erika’s Lighthouse, described on their website as “a beacon of hope for adolescent depression.” Not many words are sung louder than those in a punk song, so if actions are louder than words than Brian’s are the loudest of all. Ninety covers in ninety days, uploaded to YouTube – that was his fundraiser for Erika’s Lighthouse, earlier this year. Impressive by any standard, and intensely meaningful when considered in terms of what drives Brian’s art. The numbers speak for themselves – his campaign raised $800. Not bad for a guy in his bedroom with an acoustic guitar. Brian Walker has revealed himself to his audience to be a committed and passionate warrior for equality and justice, fighting through music.
– Luke Shefski, August 28 2016
Video by Bob Sweeney
A Day Without Love’s record “Solace” will be released on August 30th. His next Philly show, with a full band, will be October 15th at Everybody Hits.
WXPN – A Day Without Love shares music video for new LP title track “Solace”
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