The Walkmen have just finished recording their third album, and are planning on playing most of it live on their week-long jaunt through the Northeast. Fear not though, the New York-based band still have space on their setlist for “The Rat,” the song that earned its way onto every CD mix anybody burned for anybody else in 2004.
“I think we’re required to play it contractually,” says singer Hamilton Leithauser of the sneering anthem that is physically impossible to listen to without pumping your fist. “We used to say come for the beer, stay for ‘The Rat.’”
Throughout our conversation the song comes up several times, mixed in between anecdotes of recent recreational sports injuries, the new album, former musical projects and what he listens to on his own walkman. (He has an iPod, actually, and he’s been “listening to a lot of Kinks and a lot of Caribbean records”).
The new album, entitled “All Hands and the Cook,” which will come out this spring on the Record Collection label, was recorded at their own studio and at Inner Ear — the Arlington, VA studio where every A-list D.C. band from Minor Threat to the Dismemberment Plan have recorded.
“We’re all very happy with it,” says Leithauser about “All Hands...”
“I really think they’re the best songs we’ve ever written, but they’re definitely not ‘The Rat,’ with a ‘you’ve got a nerve…’ bit in the first 10 seconds,” he says, singing part of the first line of the song that put his band on the map.
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The new songs are different, he says.
“They will take a while to catch on but I really think in the end people will really think they’re the greatest ones.”