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The Walkmen to return to Columbus for sushi, show at Newport Music Hall

Photo courtesy of Arno Frugier

It might seem that most bands touring through Columbus do so exclusively for the fans’ enjoyment, but The Walkmen has another agenda.
Organist Pete Bauer said the indie rock band has made it a ritual to eat sushi at Haiku before its gigs in Columbus. In fact, he said the restaurant is one of the only things the group knows about the city, besides a few bad memories at The Basement.
“I think we always play in some basement or something. I hate it,” he said, mentioning the locale being engulfed in darkness. “Yeah, The Basement. It was hell. It’s horrible.”
Perhaps performing at Newport Music Hall will sit better with him. The Walkmen is scheduled to perform 7 p.m. Thursday at the venue with opener Father John Misty.
The band formed in 2000 when former members of The Recoys (Bauer and lead singer Hamilton Leithauser) teamed up with three members of Jonathan Fire*Eater (guitarist Paul Maroon, drummer Matt Barrick and bassist Walter Martin).
The Jonathan Fire*Eater trio built a studio to record in, and Bauer said he and Leithauser helped a little with the decorating.
“We came up and painted it,” he said.
The members grew up together in Washington, D.C., but have since dispersed across the nation with some based in New York, another in New Orleans and Bauer in Philadelphia.
Bauer said the distance doesn’t hinder the group’s productivity, though.
“We travel constantly together,” he said, adding the group recorded its last album “Heaven,” which released in 2012, in Seattle.
Kyle Siegrist, owner of Lost Weekend Records, located at 2960 N. High St., said due to the popularity of the album, the store has sold out of “Heaven.”
“It’s been on back order,” Siegrist said. “We’ve done pretty well with it.”
Siegrist said, however, he’s not as big a fan of The Walkmen as his customers.
“I’ve listened to more (of its) recent records,” he said. “It’s just kind of average indie rock.”
With no concrete plans for recording another album at this time, Bauer recalled a few memories from the making of “Heaven,” one of which included how the band incorporated his son in the music video for “The Love You Love.”
That music video, he said, was shot in a haunted house.
“A lot of people had died in (the house) previously,” Bauer said. “That was like the selling point. It was Robert E. Lee’s house, the Civil War general.”
Adding the haunted house didn’t seem to spook his son or the band much, Bauer said.
Marissa Luther, marketing manager for PromoWest Productions, said she thinks The Walkmen has developed a stronger following in Columbus and is thus more suited to perform at the Newport for its larger fan base.
“I think it fits the kind of music the city listens to. They’re big on 102.5 and also on WCBE (90.5),” Luther said. “We feel like they have a better following now.”
She said one reason The Walkmen might have previously played at The Basement even though Bauer wasn’t pleased with the location might have depended on its previous smaller following.
“(The location for the show) depends on the band, how many tickets we can sell, but sometimes the band wants to play a different venue,” Luther said.
Bauer seems to feel more acquainted with Columbus and its fans now as well.
“We know our way around Columbus,” he said. “If anyone’s interested we’ll be at Haiku.”
Tickets for the show are $17 in advance through Ticketmaster and $20 the day of the show.

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