If there’s one concept the band Walden hinges upon, it’s friendship.
It’s what started the band, who played at Shipyard during the afternoon Saturday, September 28, and it’s what keeps it going. The band was formed by vocalist and pianist Eric Hangartner, vocalist and guitarist Richard Becker, bassist Jamie de Lange and drummer Andrew Mendel in 2012 in their hometown of Athens, Georgia. They continued to grow in musicality and popularity throughout college while the members were full-time students. Now, amidst touring the country, they’ve played Sloss Music and Arts Festival and Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival (twice), headlined Athfest and directly supported names such as Moon Taxi.
“I think the most important thing to understand when it comes to our band is that we have been friends for so long and that this band is really formed out of a friendship more than anything else,” Hangartner says. “We all kind of shared a dream to travel the country and play music together and do that for a living, and I'm sitting in a van, and we’re currently doing that right now."
It’s a lifestyle that studying the texts of the Transcendentalist movement of the 1800s gave them the courage to pursue. The band takes its name from Henry David Thoreau’s book “Walden,” a meditation on society and self-reliance.
Although Hangartner says the band isn’t trying to be a Transcendentalist band or push an agenda or philosophical school of thought, they are glad they can pay homage through their band name to Thoreau and fellow Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, thinkers who have been and remain highly influential in the band’s own thinking, as well as in their decision to break the status quo of their upbringing in order to pursue music.
“I think we were so stuck in our ways of thinking in terms of what our lives could be like just because we came from a very suburban background where the path of your life seemed to be graduate high school, graduate college, get a degree, get a job, get married, and it seemed like our lives were maybe already written for us,” Hangartner says of how the band has evolved and grown into their name. “But now we’re doing something that where we come from seems pretty radical, but it’s something that we may not have otherwise imagined.”
The name of their EP, which was released in April, could be read, perhaps, as a modern-day exploration of the same societal concepts Thoreau critiqued in his own work.