The Walkmen Go to Heaven

05/29/2012 4:00 AM |

I want to talk about Phil Ek for a minute. What led you to the decision to work with such a big name and such a big personality this time around? And what was the experience like? I’ve heard that Phil can be very… demanding in the studio.

Yeah, he can! He can be really demanding in the studio. It can be really annoying and really frustrating. But he does a great job, and so at the end of the day, we liked his work. The whole point of doing it with him was to take us out of our comfort zone, because we’ve been doing this for so long that you just want to make sure you’re doing something different from the get-go. It’s the first time we’ve ever done anything like this, but we just signed up with him and said, ok, “We’re officially gonna do this record with you, and we’re gonna give you some creative input, which we’ve never done before.” The reason we went with him is that he called us right after Helplessnes Blues came out, which we all thought sounded so great, and the guy who made it was calling us, so we thought we should give this a shot.

Did he push you at all in terms of your singing? I think your voice sounds huge on the album. Like you’re reaching outside your comfort zone more than usual.

Honestly, I would say less so than usual. I think I had it down pretty specifically singing-wise by the time I got there. He was great with the vocal tone, but much more so than the instruments, I think I really had an idea of how I wanted to sing this record before I walked in the door.

Maybe it’s just how it’s sitting in the mix, then…

I give him a lot of credit for the way it sounds. He did such a good job with Robin’s voice from Fleet Foxes that I knew he could record vocals really well. We based a lot of stuff around the vocals. They became an important foundation for the music. In the past, it’s been music first and the vocals have adapted to the music, but this time we would wind up changing the music to accommodate the vocals.