Interview: Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen

posted June 2, 2006

by Corinne

Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen How are you?

I'm doing pretty well, thanks. And you?

Great. Care to introduce yourself?

My name's Hamilton Leithauser.

How did you get involved in playing music?

I took guitar lessons from this guy named Carl Peachey. He looked a lot like Bob Dylan. He played a wood-colored stratocaster and he was always very tired when I came in for lessons. He drank a lot of tea, and his wife was always really mad at him. I think she eventually threw him out. I think he was the first adult I ever called by the first name.

With nearly six years under your collective belt as The Walkmen, how would you describe the band's changes from when you formed in 2000 up until now, with "A Hundred Miles Off?"

We've learned to get along and stay the hell out of each other's way. It's a lot of time together, so keeping to your own is like an art form.

You guys are gearing up for a tour. What are you most looking forward to?

There's this fireworks stand in west Texas where I like to get a lot of huge things to blow up in the desert.

Since the new album does not come out until the tour starts, how do you think fans will react to the new music?

I think it'll be a real winner for people that have been with us since the beginning. People who've just heard us on the radio or something may not be as into it.

I read a quote that your long friendships within in the band makes it difficult sometimes because you are all so familiar with each other. What has the band done to overcome this and keep things interesting?

Everyone tries to work on their own, and really go for a new sound. It takes a long time to get anything that sounds new to us, so we really need to branch out on our own and hope that we can get something new, and bring it in and have it change the dynamic a little bit.

With the bass player and the organist switching instruments for the new album, how did the affect the process of making music?

It's pretty much the same. Walt used to play organ, but we've always written in small groups where he's playing the drums or bass or something. We never write with the 5 of us on our respective instruments...it just doesn't work.

On your website, you have a pretty involved yet tongue-in-cheek diagram of the Walkmen's tour bus and a rundown of statistics and bar charts on each seat. Are you guys secretly accountants or is this just the product of too many hours in the back of a van while touring?

Far too many hours. There'll be a lot more where that came from.

Is it true that The Walkmen's next album is already recorded? What can we expect?

We recorded a cover version of Harry Nilsson's "Pussycats" which we will put out in the fall. It's really different. We had a lot of friends come up to the studio and guest appear on it. I think it's gonna be a hit.

Name an underrated band you think deserves more attention.

Mazarin.

What have you been listening to recently?

Donovan, Violent Femmes, Pavement

If you could have written any song, what song do you wish you had written and why?

"I Couldn't Get High" by the Fugs. It's just great shit.

Thanks for your time!

Thank you!