Spend some time with Walkmen

Guitarist Paul Maroon talks music, movies and what's next for the band.

By Jonas Weir | Oct. 2, 2009

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After putting out one of last year's most critically acclaimed albums You & Me, The Walkmen are hard at work again with a tour, a live EP and recording sessions for a brand new LP. MOVE had the opportunity to speak to The Walkmen's guitarist/pianist Paul Maroon about all this hard work and all things in between.

MOVE: You formed in 2000. Now the decade is over. Is this where you expected be at in your career? Did you really think you were going to be on "The O.C." and "Spider-Man 3" soundtrack?

Paul Maroon: (laughs) Well that was actually a little while ago. So yeah we did those, but we probably did not expect to when we started.

MOVE: Is this where you want to be in your career?

Maroon: Well I feel really good about our last record. I mean, we're really proud of it. So I think so. I'm really happy at where we're at right now. I wasn't happy at where we were at a few years ago, but now it feels pretty good.

MOVE: Well, why weren't you happy at where you were at a few years ago?

Maroon: I don't know. I really just think this new record is a little more of the music we've been hoping to make. I like the personality of it. It has a good personality, the music we're making now.

MOVE: Pitchfork.com cited "The Rat" as being the 20th best song of this decade. What work are you most proud of?

Maroon: You know, my favorite song is probably the first song of our last record. It's called "Dónde Está La Playa." I also really like the song "I Lost You," off our last record.

MOVE: So what is some your favorite music of this decade outside of your own?

Maroon: Hmmmm, I really like Neil (Michael) Hagerty, if you know who he is, and Will Oldham. They've put out a lot of really good stuff recently. Generally the stuff on the Drag City record label is pretty good.

MOVE: So are you more into music with an acoustic, folksy feel?

Maroon: No I don't think so. I don't listen to a whole lot of heavy rock anymore. I mean, I still like loud music, like rap bands and things like that. I've sort of grown out of listening to bands like Joy Division and loud rock 'n' roll, but I still like some Elvis records and things like that.

MOVE: In an age where most music has a digital feel to it, how do you guys maintain such a pure rock 'n' roll sound?

Maroon: We really just try to emulate the records we love and very, very few of them are recorded on computers. We use studios with old equipment. I mean we have started to become a little bit more intelligent about using computers, but the bulk of what we do is still on tape and with old equipment. It's just because we try to emulate certain sounds and they were all made that way.

MOVE: Your music sounds a lot like Roy Orbison and really sounds like it is from another era. What are you trying to emulate?

Maroon: We're trying to sound like we're all in the room rather than a bunch of pieces recorded separately. We really want everything to sound like a performance and there's only one way to do that and that's sort of the old fashion way.

MOVE: Are you into anything outside music?

Maroon: I'm very into my daughter.

MOVE: How old is she?

Maroon: She's 3 months old.

MOVE: Congratulations on being a new father.

Maroon: Thanks.

MOVE: You just released a live EP. Why did you feel the need to release this?

Maroon: Well, you just do these sort of things to get your name out there. It wasn't really a creative decision. We were approached to do this and we had just decided it would be a good thing to do. Maybe some people will hear us who haven't heard us before. It's not really live, to be honest, when you record it in a studio.

MOVE: So how do you guys like touring?

Maroon: Actually we're in a bit of a groove lately. Right now we're really enjoying playing shows. We've played a lot of shows in Austin, we played two shows down there. I really think the whole tour's going to be fun.

MOVE: Is it going to be hard to leave your daughter?

Maroon: Yeah, I don't like it all. I'm actually heading home now to see her. It's really no fun leaving her, but it's just something that we do.

MOVE: So what's next for The Walkmen?

Maroon: Well we're recording again. We've done about 12 songs and we're going to do a few more in November. Hopefully we'll get our record done by the end of the year.

MOVE: So how's this record going to sound different? Are you going to use Auto-tune?

Maroon: (laughs) Exactly. We're going to auto-tune everything. The whole record is going to be in tune. At some point you get an idea of how a record is different and we're still waiting for that moment. And then you sort of pursue it once you figure out how it's different. We'll do our best and we'll see you soon.

The Walkmen are playing at Mojo's on Sunday.

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