Print Article AA When music scenes turn moribund, tastemakers desperately flail about for something, anything, to fill the void — and a band that's anointed as the Chosen One under these circumstances often goes from obscurity to ubiquity with quicksilver speed. Too bad even the strongest among them can drown while undergoing their baptism in hype. He speaks to Westword the day before his worldbeat-meets-indie-rock band is slated to appear as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live and toward the end of the group's stint as artist of the week on MTV, an airplay bonanza during which the music network runs clips of Koenig and his colleagues keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij, bassist Chris Baio and drummer Chris Tomson over the credits of virtually every show it airs.
In addition, the Weekenders, who met as students at New York's Columbia University, adorn the cover of Spin to tease a profile that seems less interested in the band's music than in the reasons the magazine's editors saw fit to give a new, untested act such prominent placement. Considering this state of affairs, it's understandable that Koenig gets a mite testy when he's asked if Vampire Weekend's rise to prominence, which started even before XL Recordings released its self-titled debut CD in late January, has been as uncomplicated as press reports suggest.
If you've been reading the articles, you know that people tend to make a lot of hugely inaccurate judgments about our background just because of where we went to school and things like that. People do kind of walk away with this image of us as these people who've never worked at anything, which is untrue, and who were just handed this music career on a platter. We were working on it right after graduating college.
We had full-time jobs. I was working at my first full-time job, and then having the energy to go record this album in Rostam's little apartment in Brooklyn It's not a sob story, but it's not, like, easy, either. It's certainly no easier than any other band has it, I'd say. So the fact that things have gone so well after that point — you can say that's luck or something we should be thankful for, and we are.
But in terms of it being easy? Sometimes we take issue with that, because we played so many shows nobody came to.
Once it started rolling, it rolled very quickly, but up until that point, it didn't. And we put in a lot of work making this album ourselves. We didn't have a label come find us and say, 'How much money do you need to record this? His mother is a family therapist — a specialty he appreciates more in retrospect than he did at the time. From there, he formed his first band with Wes Miles, who's currently the frontman for another rising combo, Ra Ra Riot. The pals played their seventh-grade graduation, cranking out a U2 song and Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love.
His first outfit of note there was L'Homme Run, a cheeky rap combo that partnered him with Andrew Kalaidjian. So we just decided to start something, and we liked the idea of having this very easy-to-move setup. It was just a laptop, and we would rap over it. We'd had these experiences of trying to get a whole band together, and it had been a real pain in the ass, so having minimal equipment and minimal musicians was kind of nice.
I felt like, it's nice to have a live band that can just rock out on any system. It doesn't matter if the P. And that was kind of the impetus for getting Vampire Weekend together. After David Byrne wrote something nice about the group on his blog, scribes began reflexively comparing the musicians to the Talking Heads, whom they sound almost nothing like, when not repeatedly name-checking Paul Simon's Graceland, a Grammy-winning album that no hipster critic worth his CBGB shirt had ever admitted to admiring before.
Then you almost start to feel defensive, and you get to the point where you almost want to say something bad about someone you really like.