Vampire Weekend and the Walkmen Frontmen Grill Each Other
Ten years into his career and weeks after the release of 'Heaven,' the Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser sits down with a longtime fan and former intern with a band of his own, Ezra Koenig
I remember the first time I saw you guys play “Little House of Savages” and being shocked by how high you’d go at like the highest part. That part is really important, but you could have had that song without that part, so it seemed to me almost like a really clear indication of you really fucking going for it. And I feel like the first time I saw it live it was almost like you’d mastered another few steps or something. Did you feel that way when you were working on it?
I don’t know. I think if you practice, you can get higher and higher and higher.
What’s your normal day like? Do you go full days without working on music at all? Do you go weeks? Ever like a month?
I basically can’t ever stop. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing. I guess it keeps me productive, but it’s kind of neurotic.
So then, it’s a Tuesday. There’s no band rehearsals that week or something.
Paul lives in New Orleans now so we never rehearse. But Paul and Walt and I write all the stuff. Paul is pretty good at writing by himself, and I can do stuff by myself, but the three of us get together. For Heaven, we only got together two times: once for four days and once for five days and that was it. And we just put everything together. It was weird because we had this shithole practice space out in Bushwick that was literally the size of like the bathroom in this place. It fit me sitting in a chair playing and singing, Walt at the drums, and Paul with his guitar like right here. There was no air conditioning so we had to open the door.
So if it’s on a day when you’ve got nothing on the docket…
Depends on if I have to take care of the baby. If I take care of the baby, that’s all I do. She takes a two-hour nap in the middle of the day and I read the New York Times.
Yeah, unfortunately. A lot of the time I don’t have to do that. I go to the gym and take the baby to the gym, because the Bed-Stuy Y is the best deal in all of New York City I’ve come to realize. They have free child watch for up to two hours in the mornings. It’s like a gift from God, honestly. So I take her there, and then I go to the studio from about noon to six.
So you’ll be there, working by yourself, playing guitar and singing? Like, six hours of standing up, playing electric guitar through an amp?
Yeah, or I’ll have some thing that Paul sent, and I’ll work on it, I’ll sing over it. Occasionally I’ll just do my own song.
If you’re going to sing with an acoustic guitar, how come you don’t do it at home?
Because the baby’s there.Or because like honestly if you do it for that long, it gets weird. I used to do that. Like when I lived uptown I had a two-bedroom apartment, and I had nobody living in the extra bedroom and I had it set up, and it’s just weird. You get up and you have your coffee and take a shower and then all of a sudden you’re in the second bedroom.
Do you drink coffee every day?
Do you experience noticeable mood changes when you drink coffee?
Probably, but I never don’t do it so I wouldn’t know the difference.
Do you come down in the afternoon?
Probably, but then I just drink more.
What do you do at the gym? Run?
I do a lot of biking, because I get so bored working out, so I read like novels.
While you’re on the bike?
Yeah, I can’t listen to music. It’s the only way to do it honestly.
Do you lift?
Do you bench?
How much can you bench?
Max or reps?
What’s the most you can bench eight times?
I’m not very strong so it’s going to have to be a lie.
To be fair, you’re a tall person with long arms.
I could do 170 eight times.
That’s no joke.
It’s a lie, too. But it’s close.