Joseph Coscarelli - October 29, 2007
Amidst stacks of textbooks, term papers and study drugs at Columbia University sprang a little phenomenon known as Vampire Weekend
Amidst stacks of textbooks, term papers
and study drugs at Columbia University sprang a little phenomenon known as Vampire
Weekend. Around the time this group of collegiate-types with their Dockers shorts
above the knee played a Deli Magazine party, they were also circulating a little
gem simply titled "Vampire Weekend (Blue CD-R)", a tight ten-song taste of the
group's infectious hybrid of indie-rock and Afro-pop. With Paul Simon's "Graceland"
as the immediate reference-point, the band's sing-song guitar, fluid melodies,
and kitschy lyrics won e-hearts, with nearly every blog taking notice. Major
publications including Rolling Stone and The NY Times followed suit, trailed
closely by XL Recordings who will release the band's first single "Mansard Roof"
this month and debut album early next year.
Vampire Weekend seems to be a textbook case of the influence the internet has
on the music world nowadays. How much of your recent success do youattribute
to the blog world?
To me, it doesn't seem too dissimilar from how word of mouth has always helped
new bands gain fans. Whereas once it was sharing records or making cassettes,
now it's sending around mp3s. I know that I've heard about a lot of bands through
friends sending me links and such, so it felt very natural when that started
happening for us.
Do you think that you could've come up with such speed and fury if it was
still a "get in the van and tour the country's basements"-type world forbands?
I think it still is very much a "get in the van" world. Living in New York
gives a bit of a skewed perception of how much the internet really makes a difference
to the casual music fan. In Missoula, for example, I think most of the people
who came to our show were there more to see live music than to hear some band
they'd read about on a blog. For a majority of our touring, the live show has
been our introduction to people, and that touring has had a large impact on
After what I'm sure was a fair deal of courting, Vampire Weekend decided to
sign with XL Recordings. What did they have that no one else was able to offer
you? How have the beginning stages of the relationship been?
Before any labels had contacted us, we actually mentioned XL as the kind
of label we'd ideally like to end up on. Just going on their roster alone, they
obviously have good taste and support their artists well. After meeting all
the creative and great people at XL and The Beggars Group, we knew that our
intuition had been correct. We have just finished up the details for our first
single, and I think everyone on both sides is really excited to keep working
hard on our first album and beyond.
What's it like to be an Ivy League band?
I think forming at Columbia was pretty similar to being in a band at any college.
Pretty much, you practice some songs in a dorm room and play them at parties
for your friends.
Much of the New York City music scene is focused downtown and now even in Brooklyn.
How does the uptown world compare?Well, there's really not much to compare.
All of the uptown places we played were parties at school, and we really didn't
spread past our friends until we started playing downtown and Brooklyn clubs.
Your LP is slated for release in January. What can people expect who have
been following you since your earliest stages?
Our album is going to consist of a lot of the songs we've playing live around
the city for a while now, but it definitely has a bit of a different sound than
the live show. Rostam has written some awesome string arrangements that really
fill out the recordings that we're finishing up as I type.
Who are some of your favorite locals to play shows with?
We've been playing less around NYC in recent months, but we had a really
good time touring with YACHT and Dirty Projectors in August. In NYC, we've enjoyed
playing with the Harlem Shakes, Yeasayer and Bear Hands.
What's next for the band, both throughout the rest of '07 and after thealbum's
We're finishing up the album particulars in the next few weeks, and from there
we're going to finish out '07 with our first UK trip and another US national
tour. For next year, we're going to be working really hard to get the album
out around the world and hopefully still having a good time doing it.Origins:
Columbia University, New YorkWhat It Is: African-flavored indie rockFor Those
Who Like: Paul Simon, The Talking Heads, IslandsRelevant Info: Performed with
the likes of The New Pornographers, Animal Collective and the Clipse.
"Living in New York gives a bit of a skewed perception of how much the internet really makes a difference to the casual music fan. In Missoula, for example, I think most of the people who came to our show were there more to see live music than to hear some band they'd read about on a blog. For a majority of our touring, the live show has been our introduction to people, and that touring has had a large impact on our profile."
listen to "
African flavored indie rock