Song Premiere: "On Top" by Joey Walker is a murderous sex anthem

PHOTO: Anna Powell Teeter

PHOTO: Anna Powell Teeter

It’s (sadly) not every day that you get an email with the phrase “twink rock” in the subject line. If Joey Walker gets his way, we will all become a lot more familiar with the genre. The Indianapolis singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist uses the term to describe his songs. On his 2017 album Queer, those songs veered from Panda Bear-style demos to straightforward guitar/drum/bass confessionals. Not afraid of making bold statements, Walker’s music tackles subjects like death and sexuality head-on.

His new single “On Top,” off the upcoming album Supersoft,  is a slow-burning wailer in the vein of Julian Baker. Over the course of 6 minutes, Walker outlines the dynamics of power, submission, and low-grade psychological violence of gay sex. Lines like “He also got it on his knees—they treated him like a dog for it. He’d flash them his big white teeth, though he hated every second,” outline the push and pull between being the ‘good’ porn-worthy bottom and what actually feels good. Is the sex I’m having hot? Is it fulfilling? Do I feel better after having it? The song’s stark instrumentation and general melancholy capture the loneliness of anonymous sex with strangers. “They came and left him with a moan, and he screamed his lungs out,” Walker sings before a stabbing guitar sweeps in.

Listen to “On Top” below and read our Q+A with Joey Walker after the jump.


What does twink rock mean? How did you come to that label for your music?

It’s totally a joke. It’s more along the lines of me claiming ownership of how my music should be interpreted since I don't really have control about how others interpret my body type. This self-categorization is kind freeing in a way since there are so many signifiers in rock music, like hard rock and indie rock,  So since I’m inventing this fake genre it allows me more room to do whatever I want, especially since this record spans ambient, to avant-garde to indie rock.

Do you personally identify as a twink, or were you thinking more about the image of “twink-dom” when you made that joke?

It has some grounding in the material world. I'm a short skinny white boy, it's hard to avoid the signification of twink but I'm more post-structuralist and feel it’s hard to identify with any one thing or have concrete boundaries of what identity would entail.

Take me through the narrative of the song. It seems like a person has these guys over (that he’s on top of) and then he throws them off a cliff?

It's just someone who’s totally out of control with desire itself. This goes for all the characters on the album, but especially on that song, no character has any sexual agency. With that song specifically, it’s more about losing yourself to desire in such a way that it becomes insainity. The character is on top but it’s more of a riding rather than a topping. It’s supposed to be incredibly surreal, how it’s like being on top and then suddenly your on top of a cliff and there’s a body falling from it. There's a murderous desire at some point in the libidinal economy and that can lead to insanity.

PHOTO: Anna Powell Teeter

PHOTO: Anna Powell Teeter

You’re in Indiana. What’s your community like there? Is there an indie rock community?  Is there a queer community? Do those intersect at all?

At least in Bloomington, we have a big college here, Indiana University. It might be the biggest state university? There are so many queer kids who come specifically to go to IU. I feel like it’s more hip to go to IU than another state school like Purdue. I would say the queer community here is more vocal and bigger than what you’d expect from a small midwestern city, but we only have one gay bar. At the same time drag queens from RuPaul's Drag Race (come) and there’s always drag happening at the bar.

With indie rock, we have a pretty decently vibrant indie rock scene. A lot of touring bands will come through. Mitski and Japanese Breakfast come through a lot. It’s usually people going to this one bar The Bishop and seeing shows there. There are quite a few record labels here as well.

I don’t really see the two (scenes) intersecting a whole lot. There are definitely queer kids I’ve seen at the bishop who go to shows a lot but there haven't been too many queer acts being booked at The Bishop. Maybe that’s just because there's not a whole lot of queer acts that size to tour and come to a small town like Bloomington. I don’t really play shows so I'm really helping with bridging the divide (laughs).

You mentioned that “On Top” was written from the perspective of a character. Are all the songs on the album written from the standpoint of characters?

I would say primarily so.  It would be hard for me to say they’re about me because a lot of the characters die or are in situations that are so ridiculous they’re beyond this world. I can't say they’re not about me cause I’m the writer and they sprang from somewhere. I also have a stake in the character's lives and the songs

They're more like another facet of myself that I could have become potentially but clearly, I never went down that road. Especially with “On Top” I m not a murderous person (laughs) or anything immoral. There’s an empathic response on my part to these characters. They do deserve some pity.

Supersoft by Joey Walker comes out January 18th via Darling Records.




Mo Wilson is a writer and sometimes DJ living in Brooklyn. He also throws indie rock/punk shows with the booking collective Booked By Grandma and loves plastic jewelry. You can find him on Twitter @sadgayfriendx and Instagram at @djgaypanic