Rostam Batmanglij’s first post-Vampire Weekend project is a collaborative album with Hamilton Leithauser, formerly of The Walkmen. Their first single A 1000 Times world premiered on Jenny Eliscu’s SiriusXMU show this afternoon (7/21).

Rostam called into the show to talk about the collaboration, dubbed Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam, and what’s next for them.

The partnership began after Rostam ran into a mutual friend on the train and learned Hamilton was working on new music. Rostam went on to work with him on two songs for Hamilton’s first solo album, 2014’s Black Hours.

Later that year, the two reunited for a handful of days to write music together and “see what would happen.”

“In the span of like three days, we started about six songs — well started is a very vague term — but they kind of started becoming part of a longer thing, we realized over time, and were kind of bouncing ideas back and forth. Then Hamilton came and stayed out in L.A. with me over the next two years for five to 10 days at a time.”

Rostam, who has long been a fan of Hamilton’s, had clear objectives going into the recording process.

“I always wanted to try to really capture his voice in a way I felt like maybe it had never been captured before, just in terms of how it was recorded, and also pushing him to really scream,” he said. “Because it’s interesting, like his voice has this kind of choir boy aspect to it, but then when he screams, it’s like a little bit of the choir boy is still intact, and I think that’s a special blend of things. He sings in a way like no one else sings. So I kind of felt like it was my role as the producer, to bring that out of him. And I think A 1000 Times is probably one of the best examples of that.”

The newly premiered single started with a beat that Rostam made during that initial three-day writing period.

“We were just in the room together, and I was just building the track up from drums, playing some acoustic guitar, some piano, some organs, just kind of sketching things in,” he recalled. “That day, we listened to the beat together in the studio maybe 100 times (not 1,000 times), but Hamilton was like, ‘I know I can come up for something for this, but I just don’t think I can do it today, so just send it to me.’”

They came back to the song about six months later when he visited Hamilton in New York. They were sitting in the living room and Rostam asked if he remembered the beat they had made months back.

“I just started playing it on piano, and together we wrote the chorus of the song,” he said. “And from there it just started flowing out.”

The duo’s next plan is to release a song called In A Blackout, which Rostam described as starting out “in a kind of Leonard Cohen place” and ending with a Bruce Springsteen sound.

“If you hear the song, maybe you might not hear either of those references, but for us there was some kind of guiding light in the form of those two artists, whom we love so much, who I think maybe exist in two different worlds, but we’re kind of trying to bring them together.”

Look out for Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam’s A 1000 Times on SiriusXMU’s Download 15 this weekend and in rotation on SiriusXMU (Ch. 35).

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