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“Jacked Up, Ready to Kick Butt”: Peter Matthew Bauer talks about his first solo outing, Liberation!

Peter Matthew Bauer | Photo by Eric Schuman
Peter Matthew Bauer in WXPN Studios | Photo by Eric Schuman

Peter Matthew Bauer thinks a lot about music in terms of his health. Coming off a ten-year stint making music with his lifelong best friends in The Walkmen, he candidly admits that a creative relationship that lasts that long isn’t always the best for the creators’ psyches.

“In a band, you think you’re expressing yourself in a way,” he says. “And you kind of are for a while, you create this group and it’s exciting. Then after a certain point you’re convincing yourself that some organ part is like an artistic expression…I think even Hamilton [Leithauser, singer of The Walkmen] probably felt that way at times. Being in a group for that long is not a healthy dynamic.”

Today, Bauer releases Liberation! on Mexican Summer Records, and he deems it a headphone freakout, a sonic assemblage put together over hurried months of recording and reworking over the course of 2013 – something that, in a way, can also be mentally unhealthy. But right now, he’s okay with that.

Last year The Walkmen announced its indefinite hiatus and the Mount Airy-based Bauer was faced with a decision – was he going to make music for the rest of his life?

“I gave myself two months to write four or five good songs,” he says. “I decided ‘you’ve got to have a song with words and singing, you’ve got to learn how to sing and why to sing, you’ve got to create something that has a reason to exist’. And if I didn’t have that, I was going to do something else.”

Liberation! doesn’t miss a beat, revisiting the lo-fi sonic grit of The Walkmen’s early work but incorporating unique textural elements – field recordings from foreign lands, loosely South Asian guitar patterns – as well as references to places around the globe in lyrics and titles (“I Was Born in an Ashram,” “Latin American Ficciones”). The base beneath these exploratory notes is driving guitar rock beat on by booming, urgent rhythms – a sonic snapshot of a longtime band player at the moment he confidently breaks out on his own.

Tonight, Bauer celebrates the release of Liberation! by headlining Johnny Brenda’s; we caught up with him when he stopped by WXPN before leaving for tour to chat about his artistic evolution. Continue reading →

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Listen to Peter Matthew Bauer cover Bonnie Raitt on XPN’s Like A Version segment

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Photo by Eric Schuman

In advance of his debut solo LP Liberation!, Peter Matthew Bauer of The Walkmen appeared on WXPN’s “Like A Version” cover song segment with afternoon host Dan Reed. With three singers delivering backup harmonies – his wife Marisa Brown, Emily Ounsworth and Jess Conda – Bauer covered “Your Sweet and Shiny Eyes,” a country-infused song performed by Bonnie Raitt on her 1975 album Home Plate. Bauer and Reed also chatted about the song, about touring and recording. Listen to the cover (and interview) below, and catch Bauer when he and his band return from tour to play a homecoming album release show at Johnny Brenda’s on Tuesday, June 24th; tickets and information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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The Walkmen’s Peter Matthew Bauer debuts solo project with video for “Latin American Ficciones”

Peter Matthew Bauer | photo courtesy of the artist
Peter Matthew Bauer | photo courtesy of the artist

With The Walkmen on a “pretty extreme hiatus,” Philadelphia-based musician Peter Matthew Bauer has been working on solo material that surfaced today in the form of “Latin American Ficciones.”  The track is lifted from Bauer’s debut solo record Liberation, set for release through Mexican Summer in June.   The single is a bold introduction to who Bauer is on his own, and while the lyrics dig at a deeper meaning of “liberation,” the brisk and straight-forward instrumentation immediately drops a sense of escape and newfound confidence over the song’s surface.  Check out the video below, directed by fellow Walkmen member Matthew Barrick.

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