It took losing everything in a house fire for in-demand music producer and songwriter Butch Walker to reignite his passion for writing and creating music.

It took losing everything in a house fire for in-demand music producer and songwriter Butch Walker to reignite his passion for writing and creating music.


“The fire was a wake-up call that I needed to scale my life way back. I was left, literally, with just a suitcase of clothes, my laptop and my two tour guitars. I lost all kinds of notebooks, recordings and stuff,” Walker said.


In November 2007, the Los Angeles house he was renting burned down while Walker was on tour in New York. “Looking back, it was definitely a sad and dark time,” Walker said.


Now Walker is back at it full tilt. He also wrote a memoir, “Drinking with Strangers: Music Lessons from a Teenage Bullet-Belt,” which hits stores Tuesday.


Though the fire uprooted his life, it also made Walker more self-aware.


“I think I had gotten complacent, too comfortable, and as a result, uninspired. I didn’t feel hungry to create before then, and starting over from scratch really helped me. Songs began pouring out of me after that.”


Personal stories like that are in the new book, but some fans will just want to hear about the many luminaries Walker worked with, wrote with and performed with over the years, such as Katy Perry, Pink, Avril Lavigne, Lindsay Lohan and Weezer.


“There are a lot of surprising things in the book about certain people, and interesting tales people haven’t heard before,” Walker said from a tour stop in Toronto. “But it’s not a tell-all, and I’m not dishing dirt. I’m not just name-drop here, name-drop there, all through the book. I try to make it interesting and tell some of the best stories, and I’m really not trying to make anyone look bad.”


After three well-received solo albums, starting with 2002’s “Left of Self-Centered,” Walker has gravitated toward a group sound on his most recent albums, 2010’s “I Liked It Better When You had No Heart” and “The Spade,” which just arrived in August.


Walker, now 41, is a Georgia native who lit out for Los Angeles at age 17, as part of a rock band, Southgang, that achieved moderate success before falling apart after 1992. He moved on to a group called Floyd’s Funk Revival for a few more years, and then he became one-third of The Marvelous Three, which delivered three buoyant pop albums from 1997 to 2001. During that time, Walker’s songwriting and producing talents were also getting him noticed so that by 2002, his move to a solo career was a natural progression.


As a solo rocker, Walker’s pure pop songs have won him loyal fans, even as his producing career took off with the likes of Perry, Pink and Lavigne and rockers like Weezer and Fall Out Boy. Walker worked with Perry when she was trying to find a slot in the music business and struggling to get a record deal. He never doubted she’d be a star.


“When I met Katy, she was singing in more folk-music kind of bars out in California, and it wasn’t anything close to the Madonna-meets-Cyndi Lauper persona we see today. She always had a big personality, but even then you could tell she was really hungry to make it. She was very eager to get somewhere in the music business, and that attitude paid off.”


Walker collaborated with Perry on writing the songs for her first album –– an album that was rejected and dumped by her initial record company. Of course, she was picked up by another.


“I have to laugh when I think of that first record company president, who rejected Katy, when he looks at everything she’s become now.”


Stories like that are peppered throughout the book, and Walker’s penchant for good storytelling on his blog, on www.butchwalker.com, prompted the publishers to contact him about writing a proper book. He admitted he was skeptical at first.


“I had mentioned parts of these stories in many interviews,” Walker pointed out. “But interviews don’t have enough time to tell the whole story. And I wasn’t sure if my sense of humor would translate to book form. But as it turned out, we made it fairly painless. I had a guy sit down with me on my tour bus after shows, and I’d just tell stories as we both got tipsy. Miraculously, we pulled it all together into 300-odd pages of my ramblings. I’m nervously excited for the book’s release –– there’s been a lot of interest, but I’m new to that world.”


Seems like good fortune is back on Walker’s side, and this latest CD, his second album with The Black Widows, indicates a change in his outlook. Buoyant tunes like “Summer of ’89” prove Walker still has the knack of crafting perfect pop, and there’s sly humor, too, as “She Likes Hair Bands” amply demonstrates.


“Once I got back on my feet from the fire and feeling good again, I was ready to celebrate a little bit,” said Walker. “I didn’t feel flabby anymore, but felt like I was back on track. These last two records with the guys have been a celebration. The records are a little bit nostalgic, too. In conjunction with the book, all these memories have been bubbling up, and I’m able to reflect on that in this new music.”