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Campus band: Vampire Weekend

P1010009Vampire Weekend is not a bunch of hipsters, puh-lease. The band, comprised primarily of the most recent batch of Columbia graduates, is preparing to break out beyond the campus music scene. Sure they all live in Brooklyn but, come on, they love Africa and LaCoste.  Just last spring they played at a Yacht-themed party at Saint A’s – that’s about as un-hipster as you can get.  Bwog music correspondent Justin Goncalves recently had the opportunity to talk with the band in between the recording of drum loops in Park Slope. 

First things first, who is Vampire Weekend? 

Ezra:  Vampire Weekend is traditionally me on guitar and vocals, Chris [Tomson C’06] on bass, Rostam [Batmanglij C’06] on keyboards, and Baio [C’07] on bass.  John Atkinson [C’ 00] is going to be joining us soon.  You might know him from his stuff with Aa (BIG A little a).

Where did the name Vampire Weekend come from? 

Ezra:  Some might think it’s a weekend where you sleep all day and stay up all night, but that’s not what we’re going for.  Me and my friends from home made a movie after summer vacation with a plot that someone’s country is being taken over by vampires.  Walcott has to go to Cape Cod to tell the mayor that vampires are coming.

Rostam: And the song’s actually about Walcott leaving.

Ezra:  Yeah it works on a bunch of levels.

What is the ideal Vampire Weekend? 

Ezra: The ideal avatar, preppy African with equal parts of fresh and clean.  Preppiness with West African guitar pop, a perfect fusion of happy world music with Western, New England preppiness.

So who would you cite as your influences? 

Ezra: Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Kanda Bongomen, Reggaeton.  I want to call it bodega music but I’m pretty sure that’s not politically correct.  It’s called Bachata, I think. 

Rostam:  I’ve been listening to a lot of Beethoven. (Laughs) No, really.

Ezra:  My favorite African guitarist is Orchestra Baobab.

Tomson: I’ve been listening to the Band.

Ezra: Lyrically, the original idea of the band came from the late 70s, early 80s British pop-punk off-shoot of punk and New Wave, specifically Elvis Costello and Squeeze.  They’re not as wild and smarter, more literate.

Speaking of smarter, you guys sing about grammar, especially the Oxford comma.  How has the Core influenced Vampire Weekend’s music? 

Ezra: Part of the idea of Oxford Comma is the idea of grammar as this obviously construct that a categorical imperative because it’s so specific to the English language. It’s kind of linguistic imperialism.

Tomson: And as far as the “Core,” Baio brings that through in his bass playing.

Buffy or Angel? 

Ezra: Buffy.

Tomson: Make sure you include that Chris Baio does all his homework.

You can see Vampire Weekend Thursday, October 26 at Saint A’s Halloween bash.

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  • Jen says:

    @Jen These fucking guys suck. They are a bunch of whiny dweebs. This shit’s like Hootie & the Blow Fish or John Mayer.

  • Zero says:

    @Zero I’m sorry after seeing your video on a lame disney channel I laughed like hell your not punk, not even close you shouldn’t ever call yourselves that you don’t even match the look. A-Punk was terrible it could never stack up to real punk bands like Bad Religion, NOFX, Anti-Flag, ect.. I don’t think I can ever respect your band till you come up with something like The Decline, by NOFX 18mins long

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous What the fuck is happening to the pulse of New York. Time Square is littered with people who desperately need to squeegee there third eye, CBGB closes due to tin ear and “artists” not pulling together to keep it open. Now these fucking shite aristo rockers. “happy world music with Western, New England preppiness. What? You fucking twit!
    I want to slap you with your deck shoes. The blood of good, edgy music that makes a person waont to fuck is on your hands. Fuckers!

  • Pearce says:

    @Pearce Vampire Weekend = Islands for wimps/chumps

  • Turd Eater says:

    @Turd Eater Vampire Weekend sucks. Privilege and irony for sale?

  • nancy says:

    @nancy I have been in heaven since it arrived in the mail yesterday.

    I have not been this excited since Bob Marley and the Wailers!! ha ha…..

    Oh man….. the lead singers VOICE is ‘to die for’ !! pure honey…..

    My favourite track is ‘The kids don’t stand a chance’. I first heard it on the radio driving along in my car and fell instantly in love with it…… and was SO eager to find out more….. I also love ‘Mansard roof’, ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ & ‘Bryn’.

    I predict these guys are going to make it big time and this band will be a household name all over the world before to much longer! Can wait for them to come to Australia!

    So much does not ‘add up’ about this band……I thought they MUST be a bunch of new African Sowetto style street muso’s…yet their name is ‘Vampire Weekend’ !! (I mean – Hu?) Whilst the lead singer’s name is ‘Ezra Koening’ they are actually a band who hail from the USA.

    The concept of mixing African modern pop and “Indie” guitar strumming (with a touch of classical western string arrangements) might be extremely pretentious but it fuckin’ WORKS for me!! :-)

    Yep, they are pretentious academics from the USA who met at uni!! The band is influenced by both African popular music and Western Classical Music. They describe their genre of music as “Upper West Side Soweto”, performing such songs as “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” which references Congolese soukous music. ….. yet the CD is self titled – also called Vampire Weekend…. go figure!!


  • foals says:


  • justin says:

    @justin thats my teacher at the end of the right side his name is ezra koenig a.k.a keonooooo

  • interested party says:

    @interested party for the record, John Atkinson is CC’03, not CC’00. he is totally NOT in his late ’20s yet, not even really worrying about it, seriously, 25 years young, etc

  • Tad Thoreau says:

    @Tad Thoreau Proofreading…THAT’S about as un-hipster as you can get.

  • Justine says:

    @Justine how can you not fucking love the Band?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Yes, that’s my “scruffy rock musician” (Campus Character, Karen Fu, by Kate Linthicum) CW Tomson. Yes, you only wish you could be as suave as him. and, anyone who knows a thing about the Band knows they wear plaid like genuine, valiant country gentleman.

  • Flapjack says:

    @Flapjack Tomson totally gets the shaft. Dude hangs in the pocket like a champ AND likes the Band AND doesn’t wear seersucker?? Not a chance…

  • Um... says:

    @Um... Why have we been jipped of a Chris Baio photograph?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous i love chris baio like whoah

  • Walcott says:

    @Walcott Vampire Weekend has two Chrises, but only one bass player.

  • geetar string says:

    @geetar string In my humble opinion, Buffy is a masterpiece. Angel’s okay.

  • Joss Whedon says:

    @Joss Whedon Buffy? Please. Any self respecting vampire knows that Angel is the way to go.

  • shira says:

    @shira I myself am enjoying the “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.” Good interview.

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