On monstrously popular cable-TV beast The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus plays Daryl Dixon, an expert zombie killer whose lack of social graces are made up for with his efficiency with a crossbow.
It’s a stretch for Reedus, who tends to prefer painting or working on sculpture to taking out the undead. And, of course, expanding his musical horizons. When EW gave Reedus a call while he was deep in the heart of Georgia shooting the last episodes of the show’s current season, and he talked about the ways that music not only helps him get into character, but also lets him dictate his mood wherever he might be.
Check out his selections below, and hear all the songs on our customized Spotify playlist.
The Black Angels, “The First Vietnamese War”
“I can’t remember how I first got introduced to them, but when we first started this new season, I played that for our entire cast. I kept putting it on my iPod and passing it over to Andy [Lincoln] before shooting really violent, desperate scenes, and I was like, ‘This song should be on the soundtrack to our show.’ It’s so heartfelt, and it sort of described what we were shooting at the time: Getting into that prison and what people had to go through. It really felt like us.”
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Sonic Youth, “Dirty Boots”
“I’ve been into Sonic Youth since junior high school. I think I kind of have ADD, so it’s good music for ADD because it just throws you in different directions all the time. I really like Kim Gordon’s voice and Thurston Moore’s voice, and I like the guitars going off on tangents. I think The Whitey Album is my favorite album, but Goo and “Dirty Boots” are also special. I was just listening to that all the time. It’s kind of that music where you know all the words to all the songs, but you get lost in the guitar, and I hear something new every time. It’s so good. It’s the perfect unwinding, turn-it-up-loud music. I’ve never seen them live, but I’ve watched so many videos of them playing live. I just get so lost in it.”
Motorhead, “Ace of Spades”
“This is just a get on my motorcycle and wreck s— song. I think that should be the Daryl theme song. That song and that one song ‘In the Year of the Wolf.’ That’s such a Daryl song. There’s a lot of fan videos of Daryl, and sometimes I’ll hear a song from one of them and think, ‘Yeah, they got that right.’”
The Soft Moon, “Circles”
“When I go into my trailer in the morning, someone will come up and hand me two giant cups of coffee, and that song is always the first song I put on as soon as I get to work. When I’m ready to start the day and get pumped and go into Daryl mode, that’s the song I put on. It’s the first song I listen to in the morning. It’s so heavy. I’m nothing like Daryl, but I try to get myself into gear with this song.”
Psychedelic Furs, “Love My Way”
“I just like Richard Butler’s voice. This is my feel good song. If I have a hard day or a sad day or an overly aggressive day, I turn this song on. I’ve been a huge Psychedelic Furs fan for a long time. I love Butler’s paintings, too. I like all their songs. I’ll even crank ‘Pretty in Pink,’ I don’t care. Hell yeah I like ‘Pretty in Pink’!”
The Stooges, “1969″
“That’s a great song. When it’s hot and sunny, you crank that song really loud in your apartment. And I was born in 1969, so that’s my little secret thing. I like all of Iggy’s stuff. I think everybody wants to be Iggy when they grow up. He’s pretty rad. I think he’s radder now than he’s ever been. And he’s still cut and balls out and classy at the same time. That guy is awesome.”
Tom Petty, “Free Fallin’”
“I have a 1979 Ford pickup here, and that song comes on the radio a lot here. That song and that stupid ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ song—I’m so f—ing sick of that song. But for some reason, ‘Free Fallin’ gets played a lot on the radio out here, and I would crank that on the crappy FM radio in the truck and put the windows down and just jam to that song. It’s such a good driving in the country singalong jam.”
Peanut Butter Wolf, “Devotion ’92″
“I listen to a lot of Peanut Butter Wolf, Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox. He’s got all these compilations that he does, too. My music is kind of all over the place. Out here, it’s mostly get-up-and-move music, but I have my relaxing music too. Peanut Butter Wolf is my relaxing music, my lunch music, my chilling music.”