Music and the Mega-Region

Nearly 40 years ago, the geographer Jean Gottmann documented the rise of the great megalopolis of Bos-Wash - the Boston-New York-Washington corridor - as a massive new kind of geographic form. My own research (PDF) has used satellite imagery to plot the rise of mega-regions - integrated systems of cities and their suburbs - across the globe. The world's 40 largest mega-regions produce two-thirds of all economic output and nine in 10 of the world's innovations. With their massive scale and market size, mega-regions are becoming a key economic and social organizing unit of our time.

But mega-regions are not only important to markets, economics, and technology, now it appears they are important to music as well. Case in point, the indie-rock band The Walkmen whose newest single was recently released. Half the band live in New York, half live in Philadelphia. They maintain recording space in both places, and recorded their upcoming album from BOTH studios. Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser described the logistics of their arrangement to Pitchfork in February:

Pitchfork: Where are you recording?

HL: We did two sessions. We're in the middle of one at Gigantic, which is in Tribeca. And we have a little bit of our equipment left from our studio that we keep in [guitarist] Paul [Maroon]'s house in Philadelphia. We record some stuff there. We just started practicing at this guy Alec [Ounsworth]'s house. He's in that band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and he has a little studio that he has set up. That's our new practice studio because we go down there half the time. Three of our dudes live in Philadelphia. So we just recorded some stuff ourselves. He went away on tour, and he let us use his recording equipment, so we did seven songs at his house.

Pitchfork: Does it make it more difficult to get stuff done when three of your members live in another city?

HL: No, honestly. It's really about the same. We don't need to get everybody together that often. Twice a week [bassist] Walt [Martin] and I go down there, and Paul usually comes up on Thursday or something like that. I used to live uptown near our studio, but [drummer] Matt [Barrick] and [keyboardist] Pete [Bauer] used to live down in Brooklyn. There would be days where it would take as long to get from Brooklyn up to Harlem as it does to get from Philadelphia to New York.

While you're at it: Have a listen to the band's new single, "Stranded."

The Walkmen aren't the only band to make use of the mega-region. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is also based in both Philadelphia and New York. The Roots, meanwhile, commute from their home base in Philadelphia to their nightly gig as Jimmy Fallon's house band.


Presented by

Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More

Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative Class, Who's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here.

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This wildly inventive short film takes you on a whirling, spinning tour of the Big Apple

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Desegregated, Yet Unequal

A short documentary about the legacy of Boston busing

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

Social Media: The Video Game

What if the validation of your peers could "level up" your life?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In