The Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser first worked with erstwhile Vampire Weekend producer Rostam Batmanglij on his 2014 solo effort Black Hours, and last month, the two teamed up on new single “A 1000 Times,” the first taste of a whole forthcoming collaborative album. Well, now it’s official: That album is called I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, and it’ll be out in September on Glassnote. Hear new track “In A Black Out,” find the album details, and read statements from both Rostam and Leithauser regarding the project below.
Here’s the album cover:
01 “A 1000 Times”
02 “Sick As A Dog”
03 “Rough Going (I Don’t Let Up)”
04 “In A Black Out”
05 “Peaceful Morning”
06 “When The Truth Is…”
07 “You Ain’t That Young Kid”
08 “The Bride’s Dad”
09 “The Morning Stars”
10 “1959” (Feat. Angel Deradoorian)
Put that on first thing in the morning when you’re trying to wake up — that stuff — right up your spine, that stuff,” riffs David Letterman to Paul Schaffer. He’s adlibbing on camera about the Walkmen’s performance of “The Rat” on The Late Show, and there’s a distinct look in his eyes — it’s that of a convert. Maybe I make this assumption incorrectly, but I’d guess ol’ Dave had never heard The Walkmen or “The Rat” before they appeared on his stage — but once was enough. There’s a conviction in some voices — a pain, a sadness, an emotion that goes right ‘up your spine’ and makes you believe what they’re singing. Hamilton’s voice has been converting non-believers for more than a decade, so what did I want to accomplish in producing a full length record with him?
As a producer, I feel like taking a voice to places it hasn’t been before ranks high-up there in terms of responsibility — up there with making sure the drums knock and the choruses lift. Those were all goals for this record.
In terms of songwriting, I wanted us to push storytelling to the front, the idea that a song can be a small story in-and- of-itself: it’s been a part of some of my favorite songs Hamilton’s sung over the last ten years (from “In the New Year”, off the album “You & Me”, to “Red River”, off — you may have missed this one — Spider-Man 3: The Official Motion Picture Soundtrack.)
We ran through a handful of ideas in picking the title of this record, I think we settled on “I Had A Dream That You Were Mine” because even though it’s only eight words, it’s a small story to itself.
The term “producer” is so open-ended…I didn’t know what to expect when I walked in the door to Rostam’s apartment the first time. I really didn’t know him very well — just a few mutual friends and a few meetings over the years. But I did know that I liked his music, and I knew that he liked mine; and that’s all we really had to go on. What I did find was a writing partner and friend I connected with very quickly, and learned to trust. In a very short time, things started happening. I was singing, he was playing the piano; I had a few ideas lying around…he played me a few things he had recorded. The songs started with this familiar sound, but were all coming out unlike anything either of us had done before. Two of our first tracks, “Alexandra” and “I Retired,” appeared on my 2014 debut solo album Black Hours, but the very first thing we worked on together wasn’t fully finished until 2015. “1959” is the last song on our new record. That first day in Rostam’s apartment, I sang a few melodies over some strings he’d recorded something like five years earlier. A few years and several songs later, after we’d discovered we were actually working on a full-length record, we picked 1959 back up. I sang over musical parts that Rostam was putting together, but now it was all happening right there in the room. We used first takes…we tried all sorts of approaches, and we just went with whatever was working at that moment. I think our most notable accomplishment on this record was to capture the lively spontaneity of writing and experimenting that can be so elusive in a studio…especially when you’re working from long distances, and over long stretches of time.
I Had A Dream That You Were Mine is out 9/23 via Glassnote. Pre-order it here.