Vampire Weekend

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Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend at Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, United States, on August 9, 2009.
Background information
OriginNew York, United States
GenresIndie rock
Years active2006–present
LabelsXL, DGC
Associated actsDirty Projectors, L’Homme Run, Discovery, Baio, Ra Ra Riot
Ezra Koenig
Rostam Batmanglij
Chris Tomson
Chris Baio
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Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend at Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, United States, on August 9, 2009.
Background information
OriginNew York, United States
GenresIndie rock
Years active2006–present
LabelsXL, DGC
Associated actsDirty Projectors, L’Homme Run, Discovery, Baio, Ra Ra Riot
Ezra Koenig
Rostam Batmanglij
Chris Tomson
Chris Baio

Vampire Weekend is an American indie rock band from New York City, that formed in 2006 and signed to XL Recordings. The band has four members: Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson, and Chris Baio. The band released its first album Vampire Weekend in 2008, which produced the singles "Mansard Roof", "A-Punk", "Oxford Comma" and "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa". The band's most recent album, Contra, was released in 2010.



Members of the band met while in Columbia University, beginning with a "serious"[1] rap collaboration between Koenig and Tomson. They bonded over a shared love of punk and African music, and in fact Koenig had gone on tour with The Dirty Projectors during a period of experimentation with African music, inspiring the band to incorporate world sounds into their earliest work.[2] They chose the name Vampire Weekend from the title of a short film project by Koenig. Koenig believes that the vampire imagery of their band name helped spread their work across the internet, attracting people who might otherwise never have listened to their music. Rumors say that that the band did consider to name their band simply "Weekend" but they eventually chose "Vampire Weekend". The band began playing shows around Columbia, starting with a battle of the bands at Lerner Hall.[3] After graduating from college, the band self-produced their debut album while simultaneously working full-time jobs, Tomson as a music archivist and Koenig as a middle school English teacher.[4]

In 2007, Vampire Weekend's song "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" was ranked 67th on Rolling Stone's list of the '100 Best Songs of the Year'.[5] In November 2007, they toured the UK with The Shins.[6] Success came to the band in the now common form of blog hype and internet buzz, built during the year that their album was on the internet before its official release. The internet attention led to a large pre-release following, which in fact enabled them to go on three full tours before their debut album dropped.[7] They were declared "The Year's Best New Band" by Spin magazine in the March 2008 issue, and were the first band to be shot for the cover of the magazine before releasing their debut album.[8] Four songs from the band's first album also made the Triple J Hottest 100, 2008. The internet hype had its backlash, however, as anti-fans and critics reacted against a perceived image of Vampire Weekend as rich, privileged ivy league graduates stealing from foreign musicians. One critic went so far as to call Vampire Weekend the "whitest band in the world", to which they took exception, given their Ukrainian, Persian, Italian and Hungarian heritages.[9] Such reactions were not repeated for later world music inspired musicians, suggesting Vampire Weekend may have cleared the way for their style of fusion. Furthermore, this backlash was largely unfounded, as Koenig would later explain some band members got into Columbia on scholarship and that he himself is still paying off student loans.[10]

Vampire Weekend album (2008)

The band's debut album Vampire Weekend was released January 29, 2008. A success in the US and UK, it peaked at number 15 on the UK Albums Chart and number 17 on the Billboard 200. Four singles were released from the album; while "A-Punk" peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Modern rock chart and number 55 on the UK Singles Chart, "Oxford Comma" peaked at number 38 in the UK. "A-Punk" was ranked the 4th on Rolling Stone's list of Best Songs in 2008. "A-Punk" was also used to open the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly feature Step Brothers, and featured in the UK television show, The Inbetweeners, and the video games Guitar Hero 5, Just Dance 2 and Lego Rock Band.

During the early stages of their career, substantial media attention surrounded Vampire Weekend's incorporation of African pop sounds into American music,[11] but despite an admitted love of African music, and Koenig's explicit mentioning of 1980's Madagascar pop music as a source of inspiration for the band, Vampire Weekend has always maintained that they are not "an African band". Koenig went so far as to say in interviews that Vampire Weekend feared being perceived as part of what he saw as a western trend of "fetishizing" world music, and would be hesitant to follow so directly in the footsteps of former greats such as Paul Simon in collaborating with and making too great a deal of foreign musicianship in American pop.[12]

Contra (2010)

The band's second album, Contra, was released on January 11, 2010 in the UK and the following day in the US. On January 12, 2010, "Horchata" was released as a free download on the band's website.[13] The album's first single, "Cousins", was released on November 17, 2009. Initial copies of the CD and LP sold at independent records stores in the US include a 3-track bonus CD containing two "melts", which featured bits of album tracks and a remix. Contra was the band's first album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.[14]

On January 9, 2010 the band did an acoustic show for MTV Unplugged. The following month, the band toured Europe and UK with Canadian electro duo Fan Death as their support. The video for their next single "Giving Up the Gun" was also released on February 18, 2010 which included cameos from Joe Jonas, Lil Jon, RZA and Jake Gyllenhaal.

On March 6, 2010 the band appeared as the musical guest of Saturday Night Live with comedian Zach Galifianakis as host. It is the second time the band has appeared as a musical guest on the show, the first being during the show's 33rd season in 2008 in an episode which actress Amy Adams hosted. They also played festivals across the USA such as Coachella, Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits Music Festival, and All Points West, as well as the Groovin' The Moo festival in Australia.

On June 5, the band played in Philadelphia, PA as part of the 3rd annual Roots Picnic, hosted by the band The Roots.

Their third single, "Holiday", was released on June 7, 2010. It appears in Tommy Hilfiger and Honda commercials during the 2010 holiday season. Another new song, "Jonathan Low", appeared on the soundtrack to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which was released on June 8.

On June 25, 2010, the band played the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival, in Pilton, Somerset, UK. The band were also on the main stage at T in the Park 2010 at Balado Kinross, Scotland, on June 8, and played the Oxegen Festival in Kildare, Ireland on July 9. They also headlined the Latitude Festival in Suffolk, UK on July 18. On 16 July the band headlined the Main Stage at the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim. In the summer of 2010 the band played at the Utopia stage on Peace and Love, Sweden's biggest Festival. On July 30, 2010, the band played at Jisan Valley Rock Festival in South Korea along with Muse, Massive Attack, Pet Shop Boys, Corinne Bailey Rae and many others.

The band, along with their record company XL Recordings and photographer Tod Scott Brody, were sued by Kirsten Kennis, the model on the cover of Contra, over the use of her image.[15]

In 2010, Vampire Weekend embarked on a North American tour with Beach House and Dum Dum Girls. The tour started off on August 27, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia at the Malkin Bowl. Koenig mentioned to the audience that before this concert, the band had the longest "vacation period" that they have had in a while.

Contra was nominated for a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, but lost to The Black Keys's Brothers.

In August 2011, the band was set to headline the Music to Know Festival in which they said would be their last concert until the follow-up album. The festival was ultimately canceled due to a lack of funding and poor planning, one week before it was scheduled to begin.

Upcoming album

In response to questions about their follow up to the album Contra, the band has stated that they will be taking their time, Koenig stating "I see no reason to rush it". The band has been discussing the third album and trying new ideas during sound checks but the writing and recording phase of production has not truly begun. In a recent interview with MTV Koenig stated that while the past two albums were inspired primarily by geography, the band has been drawing inspiration from the pop humor of big-budget comedy films such as The Love Guru featuring the comedy styling of John Oliver and Mike Myers, and Bride Wars.[16] However, in a recent interview with XFM, bassist Chris Baio stated that those movies weren't going to be a source of inspiration at all, and that it was just a joke.

On July 22, 2011, Ezra Koenig and the rest of Vampire Weekend held a Ustream session with their fans. The band stated that their tour dates would end after the Music to Know Festival in August. The band said they would focus on their new album and were "researching" for it when they ended the video chat. Amidst the releases of his two latest solo tracks, Rostam stated Vampire Weekend has begun work on new tracks for their follow up to Contra.[17]

During their break, members have been pursuing different projects. Bassist Chris Baio has been performing DJ sets, and recently scored the Bob Byington film Somebody Up There Likes Me.[18] Rostam Batmanglij has been recording solo material and producing tracks for Das Racist.[19] Ezra Koenig has been collaborating with Major Lazer.[20]

On November 11, 2011, it was revealed that Vampire Weekend has been in Excello Studios, located in Brooklyn, writing and recording material for their third album, tentatively called LP3.[21]

On April 26, 2012, Rolling Stone reported that the new album could be released by the end of the year. Koenig said, "We do have a ton of stuff. It would be cool if it was [released] this year...We just never want to be in a position [where] when we put out something, we feel could've benefited from more time."[22] Until its release, members have been decidedly discreet about the details of the next album, stating that a band "can give a bunch of interviews when they're working on stuff" but they "don't want something [they] said six months ago to influence how people hear it when it's done."[23]

On July 12, 2012, the band debuted a new song at their show at the House of Blues in Cleveland, tentatively titled "New Song No. 2". Three days later, during an appearance at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, Koenig mentioned that they were working on a new album and it would be coming out soon.



Studio albums

YearAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsCertifications
(sales threshold)
US Rock
US Indie
2008Vampire Weekend
  • First studio album
  • Release date: January 29, 2008
  • Label: XL Recordings
1742 —151443723
  • Second studio album
  • Release date: January 11, 2010
  • Label: XL Recordings



YearSongPeak chart positionsAlbum


2007"Mansard Roof" — — — — — —Vampire Weekend
2008"A-Punk"1062591 —551
"Oxford Comma" — — — —38 —
"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" — — — —1781
"The Kids Don't Stand a Chance" — — — — — —
2009"Horchata"102 — —26 — —Contra
"Cousins" —18 — —393
2010"Giving Up the Gun" —34 —651728
"Holiday"12531 —5518312
"White Sky" — — —66786
"—" denotes releases that did not chart. The Billboard Pop 100 chart ceased to exist in 2009.

Compilation tracks

Vampire Weekend contributed a cover of "Exit Music (For a Film)" for Stereogum Presents... OKX: A Tribute to OK Computer (2007), a free tribute album celebrating 10 years of Radiohead's album OK Computer. They have also covered "Everywhere" by Fleetwood Mac, "I'm Goin' Down" by Bruce Springsteen, "Have I the Right?" by The Honeycombs and "Ruby Soho" by Rancid.

The band also contributed the song "Ottoman" to the soundtrack to the 2008 film Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Ottoman was then taken and sampled by rapper Kid Cudi. Two tracks from their debut record also appeared in the 2009 comedy I Love You, Man. A new song, "Jonathan Low", was released on June 8, 2010, appearing on the soundtrack to the third installment of the Twilight Saga films, Eclipse.

Rostam Batmanglij has made a record with Wes Miles from Ra Ra Riot called Discovery, featuring Ezra Koenig on the track "Carby". Koenig is also featured on the song "Warm Heart of Africa" by The Very Best.

Music videos

2007"Mansard Roof"Vampire WeekendAlexis Boling
2008"A-Punk"Garth Jennings
"Oxford Comma"Richard Ayoade
"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
2009"Cousins"ContraGarth Jennings
2010"Giving Up the Gun"The Malloys

Popular culture and fashion

The ABC network comedy-drama series Castle titled episode 6 of season 2, an episode set around Halloween and vampire imitators, "Vampire Weekend".

In January 2012, President Barack Obama added Vampire Weekend to a short list of musical artists that he sought support from for his re-election campaign. Vampire Weekend made it onto this list with Jay-Z, John Legend, and Alicia Keys.[33]

Vampire Weekend's influential and signature "preppy" fashion sense was allegedly inspired by their friendship with LA fashion designer Bryn Lander, after whom their song "Bryn" was named.[34] This relationship is not unlike that between Astrid Kirchherr and the Beatles (whose famous hair cuts are rumored to be Astrid's idea). As homage to her influence in their style and the style of bands that followed them, Vampire Weekend's song "Bryn" is now being used to launch Bryn Lander's latest fashion boutique.


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  19. ^ "ROSTAM". Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
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  23. ^ Vampire Weekend Bassist Goes Solo -
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  27. ^ British Phonographic Industry
  28. ^ [1][dead link]
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  31. ^ - Discografie Vampire Weekend
  32. ^ "Vampire Weekend: UK Chart Positions". The Official Chart Company. Retrieved on June 1, 2010.
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  34. ^ "Vampire Weekend's 'Bryn' Launches A Vintage Clothing Site - StyleCaster News". 2011-11-07. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 

External links