Vampire Weekend: New Sounds Signal The End Of An Era | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Vampire Weekend: New Sounds Signal The End Of An Era

Play associated audio

Vampire Weekend's third album, Modern Vampires of the City, is out today. The band, featuring four classmates from Columbia University, emerged in 2008 and made a big splash with its bubbling rhythms, world-music influences and highbrow lyrics about mansard roofs and Oxford commas. Singer Ezra Koenig says those few things quickly dominated critical discussion of the group.

"When you start your band, and you come out and people start writing about you, you're known for very specific things," Koenig says. "We were, essentially, the 'preppy African guitar band.' "

According to Koenig, the band sees the new album as the final part of a trilogy. Here, he tells NPR's Melissa Block why that's a liberating thought — and explains some of the stranger sounds Vampire Weekend is exploring this time around.


Interview Highlights

On how the band was pegged early on

"You know, it's understandable. And we certainly didn't shy away from those things. But every time you make a new record, you have to ask yourself, 'Is that truly the essence of Vampire Weekend?' Now, we kind of feel like we're free from any specific sounds or ideas — that our approach to songwriting, and our approach to making music, we can take to new places."

On the album's themes of aging and the passage of time

"When we got off the road after touring, there was this kind of strange feeling. And I think anybody who's ever gone on tour, or had any kind of job where you leave home and you're on the road a lot — there's a feeling that when you get home, suddenly, this momentum ends. And your conception of time really does change; it feels different. Coming off the road and having all this free time, I think, naturally, I started to become more reflective."

On the song 'Diane Young' and its weird vocal effect

"That's called 'formant shifting.' It's almost like an approximation of the way that your vocal cords would sound at different ages, you know, depending on the size. ... We thought it sounded so crazy; we loved it. It kind of kicked the energy up a notch on the song. And I also kind of felt like, this song that's about the pros and cons of dying young and living long — there was something just perfect about hearing these baby voices going down into this weird old-man voice."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Key Civil War Generals The Subject Of New Smithsonian Exhibit

A new exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery focuses on Civil War generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.
NPR

Is Foster Farms A Food Safety Pioneer Or A Persistent Offender?

The California chicken producer has been dogged by food safety problems at its plants for months. But Foster Farms may also now be one of the country's cleanest, safest sources of chicken products.
NPR

Congress Has The Ability To Fix Immigration Crisis, Obama Says

His remarks in Dallas followed a meeting with faith leaders and local officials, including Gov. Rick Perry, to discuss the large number of unaccompanied minors at the border.
NPR

What Burritos And Sandwiches Can Teach Us About Innovation

Is a burrito a sandwich? The answer may sound simple to you ... but the question gets at the very heart of a tension that's existed for ages.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.