The Walkmen’s Walter Martin walks alone for ‘Art & Leisure’

Walter Martin likes to be funny … it just doesn’t always turn out that way in the end.

Such was the case when the Walkmen bassist set out to write “Arts & Leisure,” a follow-up to his commercially successful debut “We’re All Young Together.”

“I was an art history major and I don’t remember it very well and I thought it would be funny,” Martin cheerfully recalls. “But then I sort of realized after I wrote a few songs, that of course I really love art. I have feelings about it. So I felt like I could make it richer. And that’s when I thought I was onto a good idea.”

Martin sat down with amNewYork to discuss “Arts & Leisure,” his songwriting process and the status of his more famous outfit the Walkmen.


How did writing “Arts & Leisure” compare with writing your first album “We’re All Young Together”?

It was pretty similar. I felt [with “We’re All Young”] that I got into a mode of songwriting that felt very comfortable. It never happened to me before. I had never written lyrics that I was going to sing. I was always too scared. But I figured out a way to do that and I think a lot of it was having zero commercial ambition [with the record]. Just making something I really thought would entertain people.


How is the songwriting different writing solo rather than writing with The Walkmen?

With The Walkmen it was always music first. That was so much of what we did. And the lyrics were something we would add later. Always. So is a totally different thing. Collaborating was a lot of fun, but when you’re writing something for you, when you put your name on it, I felt a responsibility to make it a real expression of myself, which is different.


What is the status of the band?

We’re on a break. It could be a forever break or who knows. We’re all friends and nobody has ruled anything out, but for the foreseeable future, we’ll want to do anything.


Collaborating with Walkmen drummer Matt Barrick didn’t stoke the flames to reunite?

Nah … we’re all just old friends. Even though we were in a band forever, Walkmen was like something we happened to do together for like 14 years. So getting together with the guys … it’s not like we sit around talking about [our 2004 single] “The Rat” [Laughs].

If you go

Walter Martin is at Union Pool at 8 p.m. on Jan. 28, 484 Union Ave., East Williamsburg, union-pool.com, $12.