With The Walkmen on indefinite hiatus, it has given its members new freedom to venture out on their own. Such as member Peter Matthew Bauer, who released his debut album Liberation! on Mexican Summer last month. I’ve seen Bauer’s live show now, and can confirm that he’s made the full transition into a solo musician.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak with Bauer over the phone, where we talked about life as a solo musician, the influence behind his album, and if he would ever consider getting the band back together.
The Walkmen weren’t kidding about wanting to work on their own solo records. First we got a news of a solo album from Walter Martin as well as a song called “Sing To Me” featuring Karen O. Then Hamilton Leithauser announced his solo album and gave us a video for his first single, “Alexandra.” Now we get to add Peter Matthew Bauer to the mix.
His album is titled Liberation! and will come out on June 24 via Mexican Summer. He’s released his first single, “Latin American Ficciones.” I hate to say it, but it’s a very Walkmen-esque track with their signature guitar tone, and some vocals that actually fit their mold quite well. Don’t take that the wrong way, this is a very impressive solo debut for Bauer, and I’m excited to see how his album pans out.
Yeah, The Walkmen already called it quits (or an extreme hiatus, what have you), but last night they got back together for a one off show at One Eyed Jacks in New Orleans. The photo you above was taken by Hamilton before the show.
The show was the Rock On Foundation’s Alt-Star Party (put on by San Antonio Spurs’ Matt Bonner and his brother Luke) in celebration of the NBA All-Star Game. The show was supposedly the final show ever.
Hamilton drilled this point hard to the crowd last night, telling them the truth as the intro to “We’ve Been Had” began. He told the audience that this will be the final performance and song, noting that “We’ve Been Had” was the first song the band ever wrote back in 2000 in Harlem. They played the song and then Hamilton ventured out into the crowd to thank all the fans for coming.
Here’s the exact quote from Hamilton (via Stereogum):
Here’s the first song that we ever wrote together. We’re old friends. These are my best friends. These guys are my best friends. It’s not easy to knock us down because we have like five or six final shows, right? Like, we have one and then we have another and then we have another and then we have another and we have another. And then we have a reunion and then we have another reunion and then we have another reunion. ’Cause it’s so fun playing with these guys. It’s the best. You guys are the best. You know what? This is the end. This is the last thing that we’ll ever do. But this is great. This is the first song that we ever wrote together…
It’s almost as good a way to go out as any. I say almost because we all know they should have finished things off in NYC, considering their routes and all. But I won’t hold it against them. The band’s own Walter Martin has already released his own solo work.
I think we will be seeing them again someday soon. Or, at least I hope.
The band’s very own Walter Martin has made the first move. His debut album is titled We’re All Young Together and will come out May 13 via Family Jukebox. He described it as a family record:
I’m calling it a family record and I tried to fill it with warmth and humor because that’s the kind of art I like – stuff that makes everyone feel welcome. To me it’s a serious record disguised as a not serious record.
He started working on the album around the time when The Walkmen were finishing up work on their last album Heaven and while his wife was pregnant with their first child. With fatherhood looming, Martin wanted to challenge himself. He had co-written songs for the band since they had formed in 2000 and now it was his time to write for himself.
The first song to be released is a rather lovely song called “Sing To Me” that features guest vocals from Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It’s a soft and gentle offering that features a sort of country-style duet between the two that is sweet and tender.
In addition to Karen O, the album will feature guest appearances from the likes of Nick Zinner (also) of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Matt Berninger of The National, Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Kat Edmonson, and fellow The Walkmen bandmates Hamilton Leithauser and Matt Barrick.
Gene Clark’s (of The Byrds) 1974 album No Other was one of those albums that was initially a commercial failure, but went on to become a highly regarded cult classic. It’s so beloved that some members of prolific indie bands will come together to perform the entire album live on tour.
The band will include Alex Scally & Victoria Legrand of Beach House, Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes), Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear), Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen), Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak), Iain Matthews (Plainsong/ Fairport Convention), and more.
The tour will take place late in January, and will bring them here in New York on January 25 at MHOW. Tickets for that show go on sale Friday at noon (they’re on AMEX presale now).
Find the list of tour dates posted below.
Jan. 22 – Philadelphia, PA – Union Transfer
Jan. 23 – Baltimore, MD – Floristree
Jan. 24 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
Jan. 25 – New York, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
By Will Oliver, November 29th 2013 — with 1 comment
If there was any day for one of my favorite bands, The Walkmen, to announce an “extreme hiatus”, Black Friday is certainly an appropriately titled day to do so. In an interview with the Washington Post, the band’s Peter Bauer told them that the after their upcoming shows in Washington/Philadelphia (tomorrow/next week) that they will be going on an “extreme hiatus.”
When asked if they still plan to at least play live shows, here’s how Bauer responded:
We have no future plans whatsoever. I’d call it a pretty extreme hiatus. We really just have no idea. I don’t think any of us wanted to write another Walkmen record. Maybe that will change down the line, maybe it won’t, maybe we’ll play shows. I think it’s weird to make a hubbub about something if there’s nothing to really make a hubbub about. At the same time, I don’t think we’ve been a gang properly for a long time, so there’s not much to break up, I guess.
It seems like this has been on its way for some time, as that last part sounds like they’ve been growing apart for some time now. Most of them have been working on their own solo records, including Bauer. Frontman Hamilton Leithauser will release his solo debut album in the spring. Walter Martin is also working on his solo album.
It doesn’t seem like it’s the total end, as some of the band will continue to play together. Drummer Matt Barrick has been playing live shows with Bauer, and Paul Maroon is on Leithauser’s record. Leithauser also mixed a song on Bauer’s album. So I guess there is hope that these guys will one day come back together.
We need them to. This world doesn’t need less quality rock bands, it needs more. The Walkmen are as consistent as they come. Each of their albums has a specific and special meaning to me, a timeline for where I was in my life. They were professional, never did anything to draw them any bad press, always said the right things. They were the good guys, and it would be a damn shame to see them gone.
With that said, it is of course ultimately their decision. Although it pains me to think that I may have seen them for the last time this summer without realizing it, I’m glad I was there. And when you read quotes like this from Bauer reasoning the hiatus, it’s hard not to accept that they’ve had an incredible run.
It’s been almost 14 years now. I think that’s enough, you know?
Hopefully I will be able to see these guys perform again someday. They’re too good of a band not too. I think a lot of people took them for granted, and hopefully if they come back again, people will realize what they had missed.
Enjoy the song that started it all for me many years ago:
Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen is the latest frontman to begin the journey as a solo artist. According to Kicking the Habit (via Pitchfork) Hamilton has been working on the album at L.A.’s Vox Studios with a help from some indie rock musican friends. They include Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend, Richard Swift of The Shins, Morgen Henderson of Fleet Foxes and The Cave Singers, as well as The Walkmen’s Paul Maroon.
It’s looking at a potential release sometime next spring. He has a newly created instagram account with some photos of his time in the studio.
This Saturday The Walkmen played a free show at McCarren Park for Northside Festival. It’s likely their only show in NYC for the year, and their last one for some time, until their next album is eventually released. It was played as such, with all of their best songs given to us right away. An opening set of “On The Water”, “In The New Year”, and “The Rat” is almost too good to be true. The only noticeable admission was “We’ve Been Had”, but then again, they did play “138th Street.” The band sported their signature suits even with the heat. They are professions through and through, not cheapening the show one bit even though it was completely free. The Walkmen always remind me why they’re one of the best bands going, although we already knew that.
Phosphorescent also played and gave a great performance, a killer combo with The Walkmen. Friend Roulette & Abadabad also opened. Find a great deal of photos posted below. Read the rest of this entry »
The Walkmen weren’t in full lineup at the Occupy Sandy Benefit, with only Hamilton Leithauser, Walter Martin & Peter Bauer filling out the roster. It was quite alright, as the band still delivered a fine performance full of elegance and grace. They were joined by a horn section that was filled out by the band’s “extended family”, which included literal members like Hamilton’s wife.
The Walkmen’s strong-point is their ability to transcend so much by doing what seems like so little. It’s a natural talent of theirs that is really the selling point of “We Can’t Be Beat”. When Hamilton bealts out that final yell, time stops, and you can’t help but just take in how damn magnificent the band is, and they don’t have to oversell to prove it.
What is with our generation going to shows and not being at the show. We are so damn involved in everything but the show it drives me mad. Sure I’m guilty of taking photos and the occasional mid-show tweet, but I have never talked over an artist, whether it’s the opener or the headliner. It’s just not right.
This happened during every song during The Walkmen’s set, especially the ballad’s. It got so bad that Hamilton had to make a comment about the talking to fans – understandably frustrated, he asked if some fans had other CMJ shows to be at. It’s a damn shame because this was their homecoming show of sorts, as he said.
The band battled through and delivered a memorable performance, as usual. It’s truly amazing at how able they can go from rocking out to gracefully putting on a lovely slow burner. They played a little bit of everything, keeping every fan happy in some way. No one could complain with the finishing punch of “The Rat” & “We’ve Been Had”, which the latter saw Hamilton walking through the crowd saying hi and hi-fiving everyone that he passed through.
It’s the type of refreshing moment that reminds you that The Walkmen are just guys who happen to make incredible music. They are not super-egotistical rockers who act better than us. No, they are just like us – just a bit more musically inclined. They have one of the steadiest hands in rock and roll, which is why they will remain one of my favorite bands.