Walkmen’s latest crackles with revived spark, thanks to new approach New York’s Walkmen are, according to the summation of guitarist Paul Maroon, much like a cranky old family grown accustomed to each other. The New York indie band isn’t going to change lineups or do any drastic changes. It’s the same five guys from the start or it’ll be nothing, Maroon says. Maroon has played with Matt Barrick and Walter Martin for 26-some years, dating back to former major label signees Jonathan Fire*Eater and singer Hamilton Leithauser and Peter Bauer, since forming the Walkmen 10 years ago. “Every single relationship I’ve had in my life has been like that,” Maroon says. But despite the seemingly long-lived and long lived-in relationships among the musicians, the Walkmen just released a vibrantly fresh new album, Lisbon, the band’s fifth original studio record. Maroon says the band’s fortunes continued to improve as their years together progressed. “We are doing better than we were eight yeas ago, which is a little unusual,” he says. Maroon says the band stuck to indie labels, avoiding the major label pitfalls that befell Jonathan Fire*Eater. The lessons of that band haven’t come to bear on the Walkmen, because the sort of deal that Jonathan Fire*Eater was offered just aren’t given out by what’s left of the major labels anymore. Not that the three Walkmen members that were in Jonathan Fire*Eater would have had good recall, Maroon jokes. “We weren’t very good learners to be honest with you,” he says. The band put out Lisbon through Fat Possum, basically after realizing it wanted someone to finance the record. “It’s probably the biggest label we’ve worked with in awhile,” Maroon says. The Portuguese capital namesake colors some of the lyrics on the record, but it wasn’t a guiding influence. But at the end of the process, it just felt like the name of the city fit a lot of the record’s themes, Maroon says. The songs were mostly the product of the Walkmen challenging the nature of its songwriting process. Instead of discarding song ideas that weren’t working, the band followed each song until it was completed and recorded, eventually recording around 30 songs, before settling on 11 for the album. With songs that didn’t quite work, the band looked for new parts to add that made it come together. Maroon says he’s inspired to look for those little pieces after hearing a version of Fats Domino’s “Natural Born Lover” backed by an orchestra. “It changes everything, just adding one element,” he says. Maroon says the music often comes first, before he sends it to Martin and Leithauser to work out some lyrics. “It’s sort of an assembly line, is the best way to describe it,” he says. While Maroon says it can be anxious waiting to see what happens to a piece of music he feels really invested in, getting back songs with vocals added still thrills him. “It’s generally the only part of the process I like,” he says. The band once again worked with Chris Zane, who produced its previous effort You & Me, as well as John Congleton in his Dallas, Tex. studio. The louder numbers were Congleton-produced, while Zane produced the sessions for some of the more introspective tracks, Maroon says. Maroon is on the look out for a different way to tackle the next batch of Walkmen songs. “I hope we can think of a new way to write a record next time to keep it fresh,” he says. The Walkmen play w/ Japandroids and Tennis at the Waiting Room, 6212 Maple St., Saturday, Oct. 16, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $13. Visit onepercentproductions.com.

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