Vampire Weekend want to “make songs that people all over the world can appreciate”. Those are the words of guitarist/singer Ezra Koenig, who we talk to following a European tour and UK support slot with indie-gods The Shins. It’s only a year since Vampire Weekend played their first shows outside of New York City, but they’ve quickly become a worldwide concern with their poppy, genre-splicing rock.
Influenced equally by Bowie, Kraftwerk and De La Soul – “there’s so many different ways they each bring sounds together in their music” – Ezra says there’s little pretension behind their eclectic sound, just a love of leftfield pop music. “We love so many different types of music, when we started the goal was to make something new and fresh sounding.”
A hit with tastemakers and bloggers alike, the four-piece (college friends Chris, Rostam and Christopher join Ezra) made their songs available online from the very beginning, while their official website carries links to dozens of videos shot by fans at gigs and at home in Manhattan. Their self-produced, self-titled album (due in February on XL) was recorded in apartments across New York and friends’ studios over 2007. “We were always happy with how the songs sounded, we never wanted to go into a big studio,” admits Ezra. Indeed, Vampire Weekend represent a growing trend of new bands arriving fully formed and self-sufficient. “We’re not one of those groups that have three songs then are sent off to record – we’ve been working on our album since we started the band.”
Looking back on 2007, Ezra recalls the group’s first US tour in January as a defining step in their rapid development; “It gave us confidence that the songs could make sense to people that aren’t just our friends and neighbours.” Soon enough, their music had filtered into the inboxes of tastemakers and the band were hunted by excited promoters and writers all over Europe. “It would be a big disappointment if our songs didn’t appeal to everyone,” says Ezra. Lofty claims, but take notice – Vampire Weekend make sense wherever you happen to be.
…we’ve been working on our album since we started the band.