INDIO, California — With the release of the Walkmen’s new album only a few weeks away, frontman Hamilton Leithauser thought it would be cool to close their Coachella show with their new single. He was wrong.
“It didn’t go over well,” Leithauser said. “It’s usually a party and it’s a great ender, but … we played [our biggest hit] ‘The Rat’ [from 2004's Bows + Arrows] just before, and you realize this is the place for the old songs.”
Regardless, the Walkmen are stoked about the song, which is called “Louisiana,” “but it’s not about Hurricane Katrina; it was done before that,” Leithauser said.
“It’s, like, very Bob Dylan Basement Tapes-inspired, and it sounds a lot like it too,” he continued. “It’s sort of light and breezy, but I think it’s a really strong song and is sort of happy sounding and easygoing, but very vague, lyrically.”
“Louisiana,” Leithauser feels, is one of several standout tracks on the D.C. band’s third studio album, titled A Hundred Miles Off and due May 23.
“Song by song, it’s just stronger than anything we’ve ever done,” the singer/guitarist said. “I really just like every single one, which isn’t always the case. I really like the song ‘Don’t Get Me Down, Come Over Here,’ the first one we wrote for this record. It’s not really something that grabs people at first, because it’s just a real slow builder and it has very solid grooves, but I think it’s the best song we’ve ever written, structurally. And I like this one called ‘This Job Is Killing Me.’ I think that might be the most popular song on the record. It’s just sort of dancey and has got a really strong melody.”
The Walkmen — made up of former members of Jonathan Fire Eater and the Recoys (see “The Walkmen: Former Major-Label Darlings Go DIY”) — recorded A Hundred Miles Off in their studios in New York and Washington, D.C., and produced it themselves.
“I’ve always thought that the idea of a producer would be fantastic, ’cause every band ever that I really loved had a producer,” Leithauser said. “The idea is great in theory, but we’ve never come across anyone who we trust enough to be an engineer and a producer and really take over the sound.
“And you just don’t want to hear what somebody else has to say about your song that you’ve written,” he added. “You’re gonna get reviews anyhow. You just don’t want to deal with that while you’re actually making the song.”
The Walkmen wrote sporadically for the album and had no preconceived ideas going in, but maintained more structure than with past recording sessions.
“A lot of the old ones we did a lot of really sort of key things last-minute and didn’t really think about it, and you almost sort of turn your back to it, because with us it either comes really quick or it doesn’t happen,” Leithauser explained. “So in the past, I think we made some bad decisions because we didn’t even think about it, but this time we just had things sort of laid out a lot better, and the songs — we really played them live before we recorded them.”
After Coachella (see “Madonna, Kanye Just Add To Coachella’s Eclectic Atmosphere” ), the Walkmen boarded a plane for England, where they are promoting A Hundred Miles Off for a few weeks. On May 24, the band returns to New York to kick off a summer tour that will head to Spain in July and back to the U.S. in August.
“We’re touring with Mazarin from Philadelphia, who are great friends of ours,” Leithauser said. “You try to find people who are pleasant, ’cause you’re gonna spend a lot of f—ing time with them.”
Later in the year, the Walkmen will release Pussycats Starring the Walkmen, a song-for-song cover of Harry Nilsson’s 1974 album Pussy Cats.
The Walkmen tour dates, according to the band’s label:
- 5/24 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall
- 5/25 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
- 5/26 – Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
- 5/30 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
- 5/31 – Detroit, MI @ St Andrews Hall
- 6/1 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
- 6/2 – Milwaukee, WI @ Miramar Theatre
- 6/3 – Minneapolis, MN @ 400 Bar
- 6/5 – Englewood, CO @ Gothic Theatre
- 6/6 – Salt Lake City, UT @ In the Venue
- 6/8 – Portland, OR @ Berbati’s Pan
- 6/9 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox
- 6/10 – Vancouver, BC @ Richard’s on Richards
- 6/12 – San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
- 6/13 – San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
- 6/14 – Pomona, CA @ Glass House
- 6/15 – Los Angeles, CA @ The El Rey
- 6/16 – San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
- 6/17 – Tempe, AZ @ The Clubhouse
- 6/19 – Austin, TX @ La Zona Rosa
- 6/20 – Houston, TX @ Numbers
- 6/21 – Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
- 6/23 – Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
- 6/24 – Louisville, KY @ Headliners
- 6/25 – Cincinnati, OH @ Sawyer Point Park
- 6/27 – Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
- 6/28 – Montreal, QC @ La Tulipe
- 6/29 – Boston, MA @ Avalon