Walker, a singer/songwriter/instrumentalist who graduated from Our Mother of Consolation elementary school and Springfield Township High School, had a career that was soaring, but the pandemic made …
by Len Lear
Even among musical groups whose names have a fascinating origin — e.g., the Rolling Stones took their name from a song by Muddy Waters, and The Beatles' name was an homage to their favorite band, Buddy Holly and the Crickets — A Day Without Love (ADWL), started by Chestnut Hill singer/instrumentalist Brian Walker, stands out.
Walker, 31, who graduated from Our Mother of Consolation elementary school and Springfield Township High School, was an engineering student at Lehigh University in Bethlehem when he observed a sexual assault taking place on campus in 2008. Walker intervened and held the assailant until police arrived and arrested the attacker. The victim was taken to the hospital.
Walker proceeded to write a poem called “A Day Without Love” about this traumatic incident, but he didn’t officially begin the band with that name until late 2012. The word “band” is actually something of a misnomer because ADWL was originally a solo act. It became a full band, however, when Walker collaborated with Philadelphia producer Jake Detwiler in 2013.
The resulting debut EP, "Island," was a sharp contrast from the pop acoustic musings Walker had leaned on in the past. It was aggressive, grungy and energetic.Walker, who has lived near the Wyndmoor Train Station for the last five years, has toured 22 states and has employed a rotating cast of local musicians, usually a lead guitar, drummer and pianist. Walker, who is self-taught, plays rhythm guitar and sings. (He also plays banjo, ukulele, piano and synthesizer.)
Since then, A Day Without Love, which is now back to being a solo act, has produced lots of original music released digitally on the internet. Walker often stresses the importance of mental health awareness at his shows, and he has done about 90 “covers” in 90 days via YouTube to prompt awareness about mental health. ADWL also recorded a 13-song debut LP entitled “Solace” that received national and international reviews and praise from various publications ranging from WXPN, Jump Philly, Impose Magazine, Paste Magazine, Daytrotter and others.
Walker is remarkably candid about his own struggles with mental illness, which show up in some of his music. In a 2018 interview, he said that “issues with sadness and just feeling unworthy are a part of me … Nowadays most of what makes me sad is a part of feeling and actually being less than other people.”
Walker feels the origins of his mental health issues are probably family background, being black in a culture of endemic racism and unrecognized trauma. He doesn't think the depression has biochemical origins because he used prescribed medications that “did not work.” On the other hand, he has made significant progress by using yoga, therapy and spirituality.
Walker has also caught flak for “making bedroom pop music instead of hip-hop and R & B,” although an album he is currently creating has much more of a hip-hop influence. One family member warned, “You won't be successful until you sound Black.” Walker's reply is that “I have to make the music I am passionate about, regardless of what other people say.”
Admitting he also had an issue with “body positivity,” Walker had lost a significant amount of weight in the past two years, shrinking his waist size from 46 to 36 inches, employing yoga, walking, running, sleeping more and giving up alcohol. He also has a huge extended family. “One grandmother is one of 13 children, and every one of them has a family. I may have as many as 500 relatives.” (If everyone bought his album, he would have an automatic best-seller.)
He has also had issues with “being paid unfairly” (an occupational hazard among musicians) and police harassment. He said he's had several examples of the latter, such as when he was pulled over last October by a cop in Iowa who said, “What are you doin' in this town, boy? If you come to my town again, I'll arrest you!” (Walker was on his way to St. Louis for a gig, and his GPS took him through the small town in Iowa, whose population is 98 percent white.)
Walker, who lost two scheduled tours because of the pandemic, also has a psychology degree from Penn State and a master's degree in business psychology from Hofstra University. He currently works part-time for a consulting firm as a “training and development specialist” but also devotes 25 to 30 hours a week to his music, for which his goal is to “achieve sustainable notoriety.”
For more information: adaywithoutlove.com Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org