Vampire 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?
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.