aka Captain AWOL
(aka Captain AWOL)
Originally a banjo picker at age 6, Andrew moved on to piano by 10 and guitar as a teenager. Writing and singing his own songs at age 18, he began to see a new life for himself as a musician. He eventually enrolled in the famed Berklee College of Music and studied music business and management. He interned with the manager of Aerosmith and later with the manager for Pat Metheney, helping to plan the artist's 1995 European tour. After graduating in 1995, Andrew moved to Nashville and pursued a career in the music industry under his first and middle name, Andrew Mark, where he became a regular performer with his eponymous band in the local rock scene. A regular "Top Pick" of The Tennessean newspaper, Andrew released his first CD Anything Can Happen in 1998 to critical acclaim, with the title song being used in the indie film Fortune Cookie. Additional songs of his were published in various genres including R&B, children's music, pop and country.
From 2000-2002 Andrew dabbled as a freelance music critic before taking a post as a staff arts and entertainment writer and eventually assistant features editor for The City Paper in Nashville. During this time he continued to write and record music with friends and performed sparingly until the birth of his son in 2002. Born with a number of major health issues, his son - whose Hebrew name is Y'Israel which translates to "one who wrestled with God and won," required a full-time parent and Andrew took charge, leaving the music scene behind.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Andrew decided to attend graduate school at night, and In 2006 he earned a degree in social work from the University of Tennessee. It was also at this time he came out publicly as a male with an eating disorder. His life's purpose was to be a therapist specializing in the treatment of eating disorders, body image and self-esteem.
Andrew returned home to Baltimore in 2007, and in 2008 opened The Body Image Therapy Center, and returned to music on the side picking up bass and drums along with his previous musical exploits. Finally back in the scene, he released an eponymous EP that year as a vehicle for unreleased songs he recorded with his band in 2000, along with personal favorites from his 1998 release no longer in print.
With more music to record, Andrew took back his full name of Andrew Walen and returned to Nashville to work with former band members and others to record Talk to Me, which was released summer 2015.
As a member of the Baltimore music scene, Andrew was asked to participate in a non-profit project called The Baltimore Song for Unity. A collection of a couple dozen of Baltimore's most notable underground artists wanted to create a project that would spread word of peace and unity after the Freddie Gray riots and raise money to help under-served young individuals from Gray's neighborhood receive mentorship and job training through the community organization "Save a Dope Boy." That collaboration led to Andrew connecting with artists Missie G. Smith (aka QueenEarth) and Jamaal Collier (aka Black Root). The trio eventually formed The QueenEarth Band (#TQB), whose music is best described as "urban acoustic." Andrew plays guitar, bass, sings and writes for the band.
During his time with TQB, Andrew was given the moniker Captain AWOL. AWOL comes from his last name always being mispronounced as Whale-in. Instead of saying it sounds like "Wall-en" someone shouted "AWOL!" Black Root yelled out "Captain AWOL!" A music name was born and so was a new venture.
Wanting to take the band into the studio, Andrew convinced the crew to head to Nashville to work with his old friend Niemiec who had been a Grammy-nominated engineer for India.Arie', and his production partner Nathan Meckel (the two make up the team known as The Buzz Brothers). They are still in the production phase but will release this new recording on Andrew's newly formed label AWOL Records. Coming fall of 2017!