Walter Martin (of The Walkmen and Jonathan Fire*Eater) is finding his groove by alternating between releasing regular material and children’s oriented albums.
The forthcoming Reminisce Bar & Grill, whose “Ride Down The Avenue” is premiering exclusively below, follows last year’s quirky My Kinda Music but is more of a follow-up to 2016’s Arts + Leisure. “After I did the Arts + Leisure record I started making another kind of more adult record, just writing more songs that weren’t necessarily geared towards kids,” Martin tells Billboard. “I just wanted to do something that was a little more about real life. (Arts + Leisure) made me realize I could write about real things in my life and do it in a way that felt real and a little bit funny and true. It felt natural to me, so I wanted to keep going with that.”
My Kinda Music, according to Martin, came as “sort of a breather” from that weightier ambition to help Martin get some perspective and get the tone he wanted. But returning to it last year, Martin wound up crafting what he considers his “mid-life crisis album,” even though the crisis part may be a bit overstated. “A lot of what I do now is very solitary,” Martin explains. “I work with other musicians, but I really go and write by myself and record myself most of the time. So a lot of the songs are about sitting there by yourself, being fearful about what the hell’s going on. That’s something I for some reason kept going back to, but I surrounded it with a lot of humor so it’s interesting to listen to.”
“Ride Down The Avenue” was one of the first songs Martin wrote for the project, back around Christmas of 2015. “It’s had many different forms,” says the married father of two, who initially planned to call the track “Mid-Life Anthem.” “It was supposed to be about the nostalgia you feel as an adult going home to your family or your wife’s family, looking at pictures of yourself as a kid and the fact that you have your own family now and sizing up what the hell’s going on — but then also feeling kind of inspired by what you’re doing. It’s a very positive song.”
Though the album track “I Went Alone” pokes fun at Martin’s lightly attended solo tour to Australia last year he is hoping to do some dates in support of Reminisce Bar & Grill, which comes out Feb. 16. “I’ve become obsessed with performing by myself, but a lot of these songs are definitely not by-myself kinds of songs, so I haven’t figured it out yet. I’m working on it,” Martin says. Meanwhile, he’s been busy working on TV commercials and recently composed two songs for an upcoming film that he can’t talk about yet. “I’m very excited about that, though,” Martin says. “It allows me to follow in my dream of trying to be Randy Newman….”