This could be the last time

November 27, 2013

The Walkmen — from left: Paul Maroon, Walter Martin, Peter Bauer, Matt Barrick and Hamilton Leithauser — are going on an “extreme hiatus,” Bauer says. (Arno Frugier)

D.C.-born, New York-bred indie rockers The Walkmen are on the verge of going the way of the original Walkman.

Bassist/organist Peter Bauer says the band has no immediate plans to continue as The Walkmen after shows in Washington on Saturday and Philadelphia next week. The five-piece, whose members grew up in D.C., is not officially breaking up, but the impending hiatus isn’t temporary.

“We have no future plans whatsoever,” Bauer says. “I’d call it a pretty extreme hiatus.”

The Walkmen could still play shows together but even that’s up in the air.

“We really just have no idea,” Bauer says. “I don’t think any of us wanted to write another Walkmen record. Maybe that will change down the line, maybe it won’t, maybe we’ll play shows. I think it’s weird to make a hubbub about something if there’s nothing to really make a hubbub about. At the same time, I don’t think we’ve been a gang properly for a long time, so there’s not much to break up, I guess.”

The band’s members have been playing together since they were teenagers (all but Bauer went to school at St. Albans in D.C.) so they’re a family, but not a super close one.

“When we play shows it’s a really fun time seeing old friends,” Bauer says. “It’s not the archetypal rock band where everyone lives in an apartment. We all live in different cities and we call each other occasionally. It’s like going to Thanksgiving.”

All five members have families and three are working on solo projects. Singer Hamilton Leithauser’s solo debut is due in the spring. Walter Martin, who shares bass and organ duties with Bauer, is also working on an album, as is Bauer.

For Bauer, his debut album as Peter Matthew Bauer (“Liberation!,” which has no release date) allows him to do two things he’d never done: sing and write lyrics.

With The Walkmen, “I’d never opened my mouth before,” Bauer says. “Only to talk, and then I talk a lot.”

Even though the guys aren’t making new music as The Walkmen, they’re still making music together. Drummer Matt Barrick has been playing shows with Bauer, guitarist Paul Maroon is on Leithauser’s record and Leithauser mixed a song on Bauer’s LP.

“I think it’s cool that we’re all still pals and all,” Bauer says. “It’s nice to be removed from [being a band] and to be friends, or something like that, and to see what happens from there.

“It’s been almost 14 years now,” Bauer adds. “I think that’s enough, you know?”

Shop ’n’ Shred

The Walkmen’s last D.C. date for a while is the first concert at Union Market’s 2,000-capacity venue Dock 5. The show is part of Thread, a three-day shopping, fashion, art and music event that starts Friday.

Dock 5 at Union Market, 1309 Fifth St. NE; Sat., 7 p.m., $25-$125; unionmarketdc.com/thread/concert. (NoMa-Gallaudet)

Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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