The Walkabouts

The Walkabouts
The Walkabouts
Origin Seattle, Washington, United States
Genres Indie rock
Alt. rock
Alt. country
Country rock
Folk rock
Years active 1984–present
Labels Sub Pop
Fire & Skill Recordings
Associated acts Chris & Carla, Midnight Choir, The Transmissionary Six, Willard Grant Conspiracy, The Bambi Molesters, Höst, Dirtmusic, Akis Boyatzis
Chris Eckman
Carla Torgerson
Michael Wells
Glenn Slater
Terri Moeller
Paul Austin
Past members
Grant Eckman
Curt Eckman
Bruce Wirth
John Baker Saunders
Fred Chalenor
Joe Skyward
Brian Young

The Walkabouts is an American rock band formed in Seattle in 1984. The core members are vocalist Carla Torgerson and vocalist and songwriter Chris Eckman. Although the rest of the line-up has changed occasionally, for most of the time the other members have been Michael Wells, Glenn Slater and Terri Moeller.

The band draws inspiration from folk and country music, particularly Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young and Johnny Cash, but also from other types of artists and musical styles such as Scott Walker, Leonard Cohen, French chanson and Jacques Brel. Their sound is typically rich, with string arrangements and keyboards in addition to the standard rock instruments. In reviews the band's music is often described as melancholic or mellow, while Eckman's lyrics, concerning such themes as human relations, loneliness and restlessness, are often emphasized as poetic.

The Walkabouts have achieved commercial success and a strong fanbase in Europe, where they have done promotion and extensive touring since early 1990s. They have occasionally even made it high on the record charts in countries such as Greece and Norway.



Carla Torgerson and Chris Eckman met and began playing music together in 1983 while attending Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. In 1984 they moved to Seattle, and the band was born when they joined forces with Chris' two younger brothers, drummer Grant and bassist Curt. The Eckman brothers had been playing in various punk rock and pop groups during their college years, and Carla came from a folk and street singing background. The band took their name from Nicolas Roeg's cult film, Walkabout.[1]

They released their first EP, 22 Disasters, in early 1985. Curt Eckman then left the band, to be replaced by Michael Wells. Their second EP, Linda Evans/Cyclone, was released in 1987. The following year they released their first album, See Beautiful Rattlesnake Gardens, on the PopLlama label, before being signed by Sub Pop as that label's first non-grunge band. Adding keyboard player and multi-instrumentalist Glenn Slater, they released three albums on Sub Pop over the next few years - Cataract (1989), Rag & Bone (1990), and Scavenger (1991). They also toured extensively, particularly in Europe. In 1992 they left Sub Pop Seattle, but remained with Sub Pop Europe who issued three more albums, New West Motel (1993), Satisfied Mind (1993), and Setting The Woods On Fire (1994). Drummer Terri Moeller replaced Grant Eckman in 1992, when he left to care for his new born son, Dakota Eckman.[2]

Satisfied Mind was their first of several albums largely or wholly comprising songs originally written and recorded by an eclectic variety of other artists, including Nick Cave, Charlie Rich, Johnny Rivers, Patti Smith, Mary Margaret O'Hara, and Gene Clark. Their 1996 collection of unreleased songs, Death Valley Days, also included songs by Neil Young, Nick Drake and Bob Dylan, and in 2000 they issued Train Leaves At Eight, which broadened the approach further by including songs by European artists including Mikis Theodorakis, Goran Bregović, Jacques Brel and Neu!.[2]

In 1995 the band signed with Virgin Records in Germany and released Devil's Road (1996) - recorded in part with the Warsaw Philharmonic - and Nighttown (1997), leading to new levels of success in Europe. The video for The Light Will Stay On, the lead single from Devil's Road was in heavy rotation on MTV Europe. Michael Wells left the band for several years in 1996, rejoining in 2003. In 1999 they moved to the German record label, Glitterhouse Records (the successor to Sub Pop Europe), and released Trail of Stars (1999), Train Leaves At Eight (2000), Ended Up A Stranger (2001), Slow Days With Nina (2003) - an EP tribute to Nina Simone - and Acetylene (2005).

In 2010 guitarist Paul Austin joined the band to begin work on a long awaited new album titled Travels In The Dustland, scheduled for release in Europe on October 21, 2011, and in North America in early November.

Side projects

Eckman and Torgerson have also released albums as side projects under the name Chris & Carla and as solo artists. Carla Torgerson has worked with Greek musician Akis Boyatzis and his band Sigmatropic on their album 16 Haiku & Other Stories (2001). Later Torgerson has released a solo album Saint Stranger (2004) with help of Akis Boyatzis. Chris Eckman has worked in 1996-2003 with Norvegian band Midnight Choir and teamed with Al DeLoner of Midnight Choir in Electronica-project called Höst for an album The Damage Suite (2001). Also Eckman has worked in recent years with Willard Grant Conspiracy on the albums Regard The End and Let It Roll, as well as with The Bambi Molesters. Eckman is also a member of the trio Dirtmusic along with Chris Brokaw and Hugo Race and he has worked with the band Tamikrest from Mali. These two acts toured Europe as a double bill in the spring of 2010. Eckman has also worked with Tosca (band) on projects including the song "John Lee Huber", and with Rupert Huber of Tosca (band) on the album "L/O/N/G"

Terri Moeller has also formed The Transmissionary Six with Paul Austin, formerly of Willard Grant Conspiracy. She released a solo CD under the name Terri Tarantula in 2010.

Band member history

Current line-up shown in bold.

Name Playing Member period
Chris Eckman vocals, guitar, piano 1984–present
Carla Torgerson vocals, guitar 1984–present
Michael Wells bass 1985–1996; 2003–present
Glenn Slater keyboards, piano 1989–present
Terri Moeller drums, percussion 1991–1999; 2001–present
Paul Austin guitar 2011–present
Grant Eckman drums, percussion 1984–1991
Curt Eckman bass 1984–1985
Bruce Wirth violin, lap steel, mandolin, vibes 1991–1994
John Baker Saunders bass 1996–1999
Fred Chalenor bass 1999
Joe Skyward bass 2000
Brian Young drums 2000



  • 22 Disasters (1985 - Necessity - Terry Date & Walkabouts)
  • Linda Evans/Cyclone (1987 - Necessity - Bruce Calder, Tony Croes & Walkabouts)

Album studio


  • Death Valley Days: Lost Songs and Rarities, 1985–1995 (1996 - Glitterhouse - Rare or previously unreleased songs)
  • Watermarks (2002 - Anthology featuring the best of the Walkabouts from their Innerstate, Glitterhouse, and Virgin releases 1991-2002)
  • Slow Days With Nina (2003 - Shingle Street - Chris Eckman, Carla Torgerson & Glenn Slater Tribute to Nina Simone)
  • Drunken Soundtracks: Lost Songs and Rarities, 1995–2001 (2005 - Glitterhouse - Rare or previously unreleased songs)
  • Got No Chains / The Songs of The Walkabouts (2009 - Glitterhouse - Remastered versions of 15 Walkabouts songs + those same 15 songs performed by others - a tribute disc - 2-CD set)


Year of Release Title Comment
1987 Linda Evans/Cyclone
1991 Where The Deep Water Goes
1992 Dead Man Rise
1993 Jack Candy
1993 Your Hope Shines
1994 Good Luck Morning
1996 The Light Will Stay On
1996 All For This
1997 Lift Your Burdens Up Not official released
1997 Immaculate Not official released
1999 Drown
2005 Devil In The Details Adopted by Jack Wolfskin for advertising

Official bootlegs

Lists of official bootlegs sold through mail order or sold at concerts.

Year of Release Title Comment
1994 To Hell And Back - Live in Europe
1997 Mystery Mountain Chronicles
1999 Airmail
2000 Bruxelles w/ the Nighttown Orchestra
2002 I'm Sorry
2003 Emona From the Italian music magazine Il Mucchio Selvaggio
2005 No You Won't
2007 Prague


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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