THE WALKMEN with FATHER JOHN MISTY at the Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth), Wednesday (January 16), 7 pm. $33.50-$45.50. RT, SS, TM. See listing.
Everyone in the Walkmen is now a father, but don't call their music "dad rock."
Sure, photos of the dapper dads proudly clutching their adorable children plaster the back and inner artwork of their fantastic latest album, Heaven (Fat Possum). And, yes, the album features more pretty melodies than pounding guitars. And, yes, the band has been around for a while, recently wrapping up a tour celebrating their 10th anniversary. But they're not dad rock, says bassist/organist Pete Bauer.
"People took [the album's vibe] as more mature than I thought it was," says Bauer over the telephone from his Philadelphia home, where he's currently remodelling his basement (read total dad). "I don't know if it's more mature. I think it's more clear-sounding and hi-fi."
Besides, he says, "I think we've been trying to be, like, 60 years old since we were 20 years old."
Regarding the display of kiddies, Bauer says that was an attempt to dismantle the image of the band as cold and standoffish. "We thought we should take some pictures that seemed less distant - and now everyone thinks we're these cheese balls, these overly mature losers."
But there's no doubt that since the Walkmen released Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone in 2002, they have evolved. They went from young, Harlem-based rockers constantly compared to the Strokes to buzz band playing on teen drama The OC (Bauer has no recollection of what happened on the episode) to their current status as indie rockers with a honed signature sound: elegant full instrumentation led by Hamilton Leithauser's raspy, tender crooning.
Nowadays, the members are split between New York, Philly and New Orleans, so most of Heaven was conceived over email. They sent tracks back and forth, with everyone adding their two cents along the way. Bauer says the approach was liberating, since there was no set schedule, but also "a little depressing and not so fun because you're always by yourself."
The band's never apart for too long, though. They're just about to embark on the final leg of the Heaven tour, where Bauer's seven-year-old son, Otis, will continue to make guest appearances (and help the band fail to shake the dad rock tag).
"He always comes onstage. He likes to invent a reason, like he'll bring out beers for everyone or he'll bring out Ham's guitar."