"We just came up with the original idea on the fly in the van when we were in England," explains singer Hamilton Leithauser from his New York City home. "A lot of people were complaining that we had a show that we canceled and we didn't give an explanation, and it was sort of annoying. And we figured it was sort of annoying, so it would be kind of fun to make amends somehow."
Leithauser swears the band didn't know Union Transfer is on the site of the old Spaghetti Warehouse, but that coincidence adds to the comic value of the event. It won't be Dinner With the Walkmen, although some local rock luminaries have been called into spaghetti service.
"The original idea was to get as many rock guys as we could to serve up spaghetti in, like, some really crappy buffet line at sound check. We all thought that would be a really funny image," Leithauser says. "So we decided to go ahead and say we were doing it and figure out the details later. It's for anyone who felt shortchanged by buying a ticket or having to deal with any of the changes. We don't want to have bad blood, and we also think it's a little bit funny."
Interested pasta patrons need to RSVP via the band's Facebook page, where specific details will be posted. As of early this week, the band was still working out the logistics, although they've lined up Victory Brewing to provide beer. The working plan is to sling spaghetti around 5 p.m., probably, indeed, while the Walkmen do their sound check. But Leithauser wants to keep expectations low for the dinner.
"Honestly, in terms of figuring it out, there's been zero," he says. " . . . although I figure that once you have free beer, people can't complain."
Expectations should be high, however, for the show itself. Heaven was one of last year's best records, a mix of passionate, urgent rockers and compassionate, earnest ballads, and the band is eager to be back on the road after the holiday, playing what amounts to a hometown show for them.
As for the reason for the cancellation of the original date, Leithauser's still not explaining.
"I think I'll just leave that as the great mystery that hovers over the spaghetti dinner," he says, laughing.
The Walkmen with Alec Ounsworth (of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) play Friday at 9 p.m. at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. Tickets: $22. Information: 215-232-2100, www.utphilly.com.