Walter Martin (far left) and the rest of The Walkmen.
The Walkmen are no strangers to New York City. In fact, after the band spent their formidable years in the Washington D.C. going to college and performing in somewhat forgotten indie rock gems like Jonathan Fire*Eater and The Recoys, they relocated to Harlem around the turn of the century and became entrenched in the budding New York music scene of the early aughts.
Ten years, six albums and countless tour dates later, the band is still kicking with a renewed strength thanks to their latest release Libson (Fat Possum) which dropped in September and debuted at #27 on the Billboard charts.
Nonstop Sound was lucky enough to catch up with multi-instrumentalist Walter Martin a few days before The Walkmen play their biggest NYC headlining gig to date. On December 2 they will be joined by locals School of Seven Bells and labelmates Tennis at Terminal 5 for what should be a triumphant homecoming for one of NYC’s celebrated mainstays.
As a longtime New York band, whats the benefit of playing hometown shows? Well, playing a hometown NYC show gives our friends and families the chance to see what we do. And the crowd in New York is always drunk which in truth makes the shows a lot more fun for us, and probably them.
You've played a number of NYC venues over the last 10 years. What has been your most memorable experience? I always look back to the night about 6 years ago that we played 3 shows in a single night at the Knitting factory. It was really great actually. We thought it was a really funny and stupid idea to do three shows in a night and it worked out beautifully. Very memorable.
It’s 4:00am and last call has come and gone, what’s next? Are there any speakeasies, late night eats or after party spots you frequent? We basically just have a drink and go home after the show. When we were in our 20's we'd go out and go bananas more, but in your 30's, the hangovers are just too intense.
What is your local watering hole? Why? My local watering hole is this place called Hot Bird in Brooklyn. It’s new and kind of stupid but they always have a seat and always have good oldies playing in the stereo. And they have good margaritas.
The courting process is on and a major player is taking you to dinner on the AMEX Black card; where are you eating? What menu item is not to be missed? I'd go to Raoul's on Prince St. in Soho. Its a very old style French place that's been there forever. And I’d get something simple like the roast Chicken.
It's the holiday season and you've got some gifts to purchase. Where's your favorite place to exercise commerce? I love Academy Records in Williamsburg. It’s one of the very few good record stores in town. It’s better than good, it’s Great!
Good or bad, have you ever had what you would describe as a quintessential New York moment? I met Lou Reed at a signing for his crap-ola photography book he released a few years ago. It’s filled with blurry pictures of the West Side Highway taken through glass... from his apartment window, I'd assume. He signed my copy of White Light White Heat. But seemed a little disoriented.
NYC has all sorts of tourist attractions Central Park, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty to name a few. What's the most touristy thing you've done here? My friend Norm is a guide on the Red Double Decker bus tours; he's apparently been rated as the funniest one out there. Anyway, I went on a late night bus ride that he hosted and had a blast.
Finish this sentence: New York City is the sweetest place on earth because… It has everything. In walking distance.