By Rebecca Beato
The warm and kindly spirit of the group is apparent as I enter the home of Walden’s four band members, Eric Hangartner, Richard Becker, James de Lange, and Andrew Mendel. As soon as I walk in, Hangarthner offers me some green tea. Snarky Puppy, a jazz band the group listens to, plays in the background as we settle onto the living room couches. Immediately, the band made me feel welcome.
These guys don’t fit into the usual rock-and-roll stereotype that once made parents fearful of youth’s corruption. Understanding Walden begins with the band’s genre – the group calls it “Nice-Guy Rock,” which can be considered more of a soft rock. Through an aversion to the typical rock stereotypes, the band created this paradoxical title. From meeting the band or attending one of their shows, it’s evident how different they are from the iconic “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” lifestyle. “You can be a normal guy who’s not this crazy ego maniac but perform for a bunch of people, share your music, be down to earth and not fit any of those molds,” Hangartner says. For the bandmates, playing their music is about bringing a great show through well-written songs and the energy between the four of them.
Walden’s original genre and unique purpose can be associated with the origin of their name. The group connected with the transcendentalist movement of the 19th century, as well as Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Like those within the transcendentalist movement, the band works to distance themselves from conformity and stigmas, especially those that come along with being a rock ‘n’ roll band. The group highlights the importance of messages within songs. As Becker points out, “for us, the point of music is to make someone feel something.” Each song is a snapshot of a time, place or experience the band has had. Walden uses the “here and now” to teach the listener something they didn’t know at that time.
As an up-and-coming band, Walden has fought to find their sound. There comes a point as artists when the work produced reflects the group and doesn’t rip off other musicians. Creating a unique sound for the band has been about finding a healthy mixture of all the musical influences around them and incorporating those influences in Walden’s way. Everything the guys listen to goes “right in there” as Becker points to a region on the back of his head.
Their newest EP that came out in April is “the most Walden album” the band has yet to produce. The group has never been more confident about anything they have done. This pride comes from producing songs like “Fools Gold,” which came together in only two hours. “Fools Gold” embodies the dynamics of the band as they each contributed their own part to the song. The best way to describe Walden’s new sound is “raw.” When asked further to describe this “raw,” sound guitarist Becker says, “Just listen to it.”
For this group, the most important aspect of playing is the live performance. In their shows, the guys do their best to reach out to each audience member and make the concert as enjoyable as possible. Hangartner says, “We understand that not everyone standing in the audience knows us or likes our music – maybe they don’t even like coming to live concerts. Whatever it is, everyone has their own story.” No matter who is in the audience, the band focuses on creating the best experience for each person. Walden makes their concerts about connecting with the audience and showing each person a good time.
What are the band’s summers plans? Honestly, they aren’t sure themselves. Of course they plan on playing a concert back home in Marietta for all their friends. The network of friend-fans has been a large part of the band’s success as each friend shares the music with another friend and thus spreads the music like wildfire. We can expect to see great things come from Walden as these four guys continue to polish their passion for music. This summer as you’re relaxing by the poolside, be sure to look Walden up on Spotify for their new EP.