Robert Palmer Watkins wants you to know with his new single Waiting that he’s not just another talented and pretty face in front of a Hollywood camera. It could be understood and forgiven if, at first blush, that was your initial impression; the 32 year old actor has blazed a red-hot trail in the entertainment industry with such sit-up and take-notice roles in projects ranging from General Hospital, This Is Us and, most recently, the pop culture phenomenon The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Yet there’s another side to Watkins that is undeniable: This talented thespian is also a stone-cold master musician, something that becomes readily apparent when you give a spin to his song new song Waiting (which dropped on May 28), a cocktail of R&B lovingly mixed with pop.
The public at large is no stranger to the actor-turned-musician phenomenon that is part and parcel of the pop culture scene: Keanu Reeves made headlines when he turned down a lucrative payday for Speed II so that he could tour with his band Dogstar; Kevin Costner has been known to pluck a pretty note or two with his own country and rock band Modern West and, to be for sure, Russel Crowe’s Australian homegrown rock band 30 Odd Foot of Grunts can get even the most staid and left-footed of music aficionados out on the dance floor, cutting a rug that would make John Travolta’s Tony Manero character in Saturday Night Fever apoplectic with envy. In his own inimitable fashion, Robert Palmer Watkins – who in the music world goes by the professional moniker of “Palmer” – is following in the footsteps of an old and proud tradition in the entertainment industry, opening the public’s eyes not only to his considerable acting chops, but also to his undeniable musical prowess.
I recently caught up with Robert Palmer Watkins during a quick bit of downtime from filming the final season of The Walking Dead: World Beyond and he graciously allowed me to talk with him about his new single Waiting, what’s coming up in the future for him in both film and music, and the intricate joys of fleeing from Walkers (that’s Zombies to you and I, Dear Readers) on the set of his hit television show.
Vents: Congratulations and major kudos on your just-released new single entitled Waiting! For those not in the know, what’s the story behind Waiting?
Robert Palmer Watkins: Thank you, I’m really proud of the new song! Waiting originated from a long-distance relationship I had wherein she was living in Atlanta and I was out in L.A. We both fought hard to make it work and we were always playing phone tag and waiting on one another to call. Ultimately, through no fault of hers or mine, it just did not work out. Out of that experience Waiting was born.
Vents: Waiting was released under your musical nom de plume “Palmer.” Was this to differentiate between your work as an actor and as a musician?
Robert Palmer Watkins: Yes, partially. Also, I wanted something musically that had more of a hook to it than “Watkins.” Palmer felt more memorable and appropriate for my music, perhaps less generic for the purposes of a record-buying audience. And, as you point out, it does a nice job of separating my work as an actor from that of being a musician.
Vents: Did you write Waiting solo, or did you have a co-writer for this inaugural outing?
Robert Palmer Watkins: My partner in crime on Waiting is none other than Brendan Martin alongside Ronin – Brendan is also known as B Martin. We have a real deep back-and-forth which always lends itself to jumping immediately into songwriting. We’re both pretty like-minded about many things and we also both get a lot of our material from real-life situations.
Vents: Speaking of Brendan and Waiting, why was Purpose Driven Artists the right home for you as a musical artist?
Robert Palmer Watkins: So Brendan is behind Purpose Driven Artists and it just felt right and it felt like home, you know? I’m beyond super-excited to have signed up with him and I really feel confident about all of the songs he and I have worked on together.
Vents: It’s still early days, but with Waiting are you building up momentum for an eventual album release?
Robert Palmer Watkins: We’re taking a slow and steady approach with a goal of releasing at least eight singles in the coming months. We’ve got the time and the goal is to really introduce me and my music over a period of time, working up to other things for sure. Simultaneous to that, we’re shooting accompanying music videos for all of the new songs.
Vents: How did the first music video go for Waiting? I understand that you shot that one recently?
Robert Palmer Watkins: It went really good in that it allowed me to combine both my love for acting with my love for music. If anything, I feel like I can bring the acting talent I have to the music videos, which makes it even more fun and unique, I feel.
Vents: Secret Origin time: What is it that ultimately led you into the world of music?
Robert Palmer Watkins: Wow, well I’ve always had a deep love for music and I’ve always very much been into singing. Things kind of clicked from there and I’ve been very fortunate to turn a real lifelong love of mine into a reality where I now have a song I’m very proud of with even more exciting music on the way!
Vents: I can’t let this interview end without first of all congratulating you on gaining recurring character status for the second season of The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Can you give readers any hints as to what they can expect to see from your character in the sophomore season?
Robert Palmer Watkins: Lots of surprises; I have to be careful just how much I reveal. And I’m super-excited to come aboard for a full character arc in the show, even if this is our final season. I did one episode for the first season and was so excited when they invited me back to really explore my character.
Vents: Beyond the music and beyond The Walking Dead, what else do you have coming up in the near future?
Robert Palmer Watkins: I’ve got two films on the way: Trapped Inn and Six Feet; I’m proud and excited for both of them. Trapped Inn was written and directed by amazing talent Leah Sturgis and I was an executive producer on it. I play Greg, part of a cyclist team that winds up getting trapped in an historic lodge in Europe. It was tons of fun to make. We shot both Trapped Inn and Six Feet at the height of the pandemic and both stories really closely parallel what was going on in the real world at the time, which was surreal to say the least!
Vents: Final – SILLY! – Question: Favorite film about rock music – This Is Spinal Tap or Almost Famous?
Robert Palmer Watkins: Oh, two great movies! Man, I’d have to go with This Is Spinal Tap; it’s a favorite!
Vents would like to extend a big thank you to Robert for taking time out of a very hectic schedule to speak with us. Now that you’ve read our interview with Robert, why not go out and give his single Waiting a well-deserved listen? You can check it out on Amazon right now – Tell ‘em Vents sent you!