Paul Maroon is slow-baking himself to death outside his Philadelphia home. The Walkmen guitarist is parked in his car for this little conversation, and not only is his air conditioner broken, but his power windows gave up a few days ago. Small potatoes, though, considering his band has just released its third full-length album. A Hundred Miles Off follows up the critical success of 2004's loud guitar- and organ-driven Bows + Arrows with a lot more guitar and lot less organ -- along with, at least in Maroon's opinion, more of the same old same old. Still, A/C would be nice.
Westword: It's been more than two years since the release of Bows + Arrows. Why the wait, and how do you think the time has helped the band evolve?
Paul Maroon: We did a lot of touring, which is why there was the wait. We would've put an album out sooner, but we just didn't have one. I think the album is pretty similar to the one before, too. It's not that much different. It's not like we went rap or anything.
Columbia University recently kicked the Walkmen's own Marcata Studios out of its space in Harlem. What happened, and any luck finding a new location?
You know, I don't think we're going to have a new location. We're just going to have a practice space, essentially. Columbia College keeps expanding and expanding. When I went to school there, they had the artists at 125th Street. Now, at 125th Street, they have classrooms, and the artists are going to move into 133rd, where we were. So they just keep pushing out student art space further and further, and we were the victims of that.
With Marcata Studios, the Walkmen seemed to really try to resist modern techniques of music recording, sticking with analog and vintage instruments and mixing equipment. Can you talk about what you get out of this?
Ultimately, it's just not as accurate. It's a little more forgiving than digital. Tape tends to make you sound better than you are, whereas digital definitely exposes everything. I like everything about it, really. I like the smell of tape better than a computer. It smells like a recording studio.
Can you talk about the Walkmen's upcoming release, Pussycats?
Pussycats is actually a fairly faithful re-creation of Harry Nilsson's record Pussy Cats. Tons of strings, horn sections, everything. It's a really fun record, and I think it'll probably come out in August or something like that.
And what led you guys to want to do a song-by-song take on the album?
You know, it's really just that there's a great variety of songs on it. It doesn't take itself too seriously. And, as the last thing we were going to do at Marcata, it sounded like a fun thing to do.
Are you calling them "covers" or "interpretations?"
Whatever is less pretentious. Probably covers. It sounds pretty close to the original record. Eerily close. The waste-of-time aspect of it all is not lost on people.
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