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The Walkmen - You And Me And The Band Makes Three-

Author: Carlisle Rogers
Monday, October 20, 2008

New York indie rock quintet The Walkmen have just made their definitive record in You & Me. 3D’s Carlisle Rogers speaks with vocalist Hamilton Leithauser.

Phil Spector was famous for saying that albums were simply “two hits and ten pieces of junk”. The new Walkmen album, You & Me, is their fourth original release, and the first one to fully embrace the idea of ‘the album’ as a cohesive work, Spector be damned.

That’s not to say they’ve left behind the echo chamber, but this is one hell of an album, the kind of work you can put on and leave on – a dinosaur in the iPod age. Vocalist Hamilton Leithauser says it took a long time to put together, beginning way back in 2006. “Writing took a long time, getting the sound of the recordings right and making it sound exciting took us a long time. We had things done, but we weren’t really feeling it and I don’t know why. We did a second batch in the summer of 2007 and that’s when things really got rolling.

“I do a lot of the lyrics and Walt, who plays bass, really helped me on this one. He wrote a bunch, but mostly I would write them and perform them for him and he was a great first critic. It was weird because we had never done anything like that before, but it really helped.”

The album is not as immediate as its predecessors; they have a depth that bears listening to a few times. You will come to them cold, but leave intrigued, and come back again. “You get to a point where you can play things that are less intense, less immediately hard-hitting and can instead be a little looser and a little more relaxed, but still be just as exciting. Now we have gotten a lot better at doing our slow jam. We really perfected all out bashing and volume, which we did on our second record. We got to a point where we just rocked loud. I think since then we’ve gotten better at being looser, but keeping a new sound as well.”

Working with Chris Zane at Gigantic Studios in Manhattan and John Agnello (who just produced The Living End’s new record) at Water Music in Hoboken, Hamilton says the length of the project precipitated moving around a bit. “We got Agnello through our old manager. They knew each other and he thought we might get along, which we did, we loved him. We did a batch of songs with him, but bagged the whole thing because they didn’t sound very good. It wasn’t his fault. But then we did our second batch of songs with him also, which came out great. Then, because we went a lot longer than we said we would, I mean years longer, he had already lined something else up at the same time we wanted to get in and finish things up, so we went into a studio in New York and met this guy Chris Zane, who we loved.”

WHO: The Walkman
WHAT: You & Me through Etch N Sketch / Inertia
WHEN: Out now