The Walkmen: Words On Their Continued Ascent in 2004, And, Erm, Fashion
02 Aug 2004
frontman hamilton of the stylish nyc quintet speaks to rockfeedback of the band's continued rise and tales of his band crying in down-market, british-based overnight stays.
In the year that NYC's The Walkmen have been cited as one of the most intoxicating, promising new set of upstarts to watch, Allison Cayse shares a few words with the band's Hamilton Leithauser via the gift of Q&A as to just what the hell The Walkmen think they're doing. The quintet are appearing at this year's Reading / Leeds Festivals later this month.
Considering the band's rapid ascent, how do your most recent, and largest to date, UK performances compare with previous tours this side of the Atlantic?
Hamilton: 'Well, this was the first time it felt worthwhile. Our record is finally out, so I think that made a difference. I don't know why we kept going over there again and again without a record, on our own bill. It was pretty nightmarish. Pete cried in the shower at a Formula 1 in Liverpool. That's my favorite England story, actually my favorite touring story.'
You guys tend to dress rather conservatively, what's your take on London style?
H: 'I don't know exactly what London style is. I noticed that you all have the same people with wacky trucker hats and big sunglasses and wack mullet haircuts. That's popular in NY. I noticed that a lot of people wear t-shirts in the freezing rain in the middle of winter there. That is a hell of a fashion statement, if you ask me.'
Fashion and rock seem to go hand-in-hand; some would argue that fashion
has become more important that the music itself. How do you feel about this?
H: 'Well that's the way it's always been. There's a lot of fashionable bands that have no music and are really popular. There's a lot of those in NY. I think it's hard for them to keep going though because their fashion gets upstaged by someone else's... I can't believe I'm discussing fashion - if only you could see me now.'
In a printed interview of yours, it was remarked that 'Bows & Arrows' was all about your bitterness at not having made any money, and when we talked (prior to this), Paul half-jokingly said that a good show was one in which the band sold a lot
of merchandise. Do you worry that people might interpret comments like this in a negative way?
H: 'Well, I guess they will. F**k 'em. Well, actually, we can be very sarcastic,
and a lot of the time in print it just looks like we're absolute pricks - which is partially true - but anyhow, of course we're delighted when the money comes rolling in. Unfortunately, it never does.'
We assume - perhaps incorrectly - that money is more of a necessity than a
motivator for you guys when making music, so what is the motivation behind
what you do?
H: 'Well, we've never done anything else seriously. We all worked jobs for a while, pretty much just to keep ourselves afloat while the band got it together. But once we could afford to do the band full-time, we did just that. I don't know why we do it. I think we just like writing songs. The most fun part is finishing something new; that's the only time there's a real product.'
In the past you guys have been bogged down with comparisons to The Strokes, Interpol and other 'it' bands on the New York scene, and now you've recently opened up some shows for the former, what was that like?
H: 'It was great playing with them. I was very surprised that we had a lot of fans in the audience too. I expected a lot of heckling and people bored out of their shorts waiting for us to get the hell off the stage, but it worked out well for us I think.'
This album is enjoying much wider success than 'Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone'. What are your ambitions for success and fame?
H: 'Well, I don't know if I have any. It's best not to think like that because then you'll either be let down or you'll just be thinking like that. And you shouldn't be thinking like that.'
And finally, what do you think of the whole 'rock star' lifestyle?
H: 'It's great. I get wasted everyday.'