Walter Martin Bio
“I’m calling it ‘all-ages music’ because that’s the kind of art I like—the stuff that makes everyone feel welcome.”
Walter Martin, co-writer and multi-instrumentalist from the The Walkmen, found out his wife was pregnant with their first child just as the New York band was finishing work on their 2012 album Heaven. With fatherhood on the horizon, and adulthood an undeniable reality, Martin felt it was time to challenge himself a bit. He had written songs with the band since they formed in 2000 and now he just wanted to write something for himself. It was while standing in his kitchen the summer before last, surrounded by his young family and listening to their collection of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll records, that he realized what that meant exactly.
"It wasn’t that I wanted to write songs to suit my new situation as a parent. It was more that parenthood made relevant writing the kind of songs I’ve always loved most.”
“We’re All Young Together,” Martin’s debut solo effort, is a sweet, funny, rough-around-the-edges “all-ages record,” as he likens it, but an album of alphabet songs, it is not. Inspired by early rock ‘n’ roll, it is filled with the kind of innocent yet mischievous music that has long struck a chord with Martin.
Family, love, childhood, and zoo animals. Such are the classic themes of the album, all articulated by an offbeat narrator who parents can relate to. Among the songs’ subjects: the virtues of rattlesnakes, the not-so-surprising similarities of siblings, and the distinguishing factors of each Beatles band member. “Above all I wanted this album to be warm and sincere and to make people of all ages feel good,” says Martin. “To me, its a serious record disguised as a not serious record”
And putting it together was a family affair, of sorts. Friends and fellow musicians Karen O, Kat Edmonson, Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Matt Berninger (The National), Alec Ounsworth (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah), and Hamilton Leithauser (Martin’s bandmate and cousin) all leant vocals, and Zinner’s case, guitar work to the album. When it came to the accompanying drawings, Martin enlisted Marcellus Hall, a children’s book illustrator and artist for The New Yorker. But perhaps more importantly, notes Martin, “he’s an old friend too.”