Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig Reflects on 10 Years of Modern Vampires of the City
Ten years ago today, Vampire Weekend released their third album, Modern Vampires of the City. Now, frontman Ezra Koenig is celebrating the milestone on social media. “MVOTC is ten years old. Wild,” Koenig wrote in an Instagram post. He went on to discuss the writing process for many of the album’s songs, including tracks that germinated from snippets of music penned by Rostam Batmanglij.
“I think this is the VW album where Rostam’s composition and production shines through the most,” Koenig wrote, adding, “he deserves special praise and attention for his work here.” He also reflected on collaborations with producer Ariel Rechtshaid, engineer Emily Lazar, and others. Find his full statement below.
Vampire Weekend released their most recent studio LP, Father of the Bride, back in 2019—six years after issuing Modern Vampires of the City. Father of the Bride went on to win the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album. The band has since shared bonus tracks from the record, as well as EP featuring reinterpretations of the song “2021.”
In December of 2021, Koenig guested on an episode of Mark Hoppus’ After School Radio on Apple Music Hits. During the interview, Koenig discussed Vampire Weekend’s forthcoming fifth album. “It is crazy that it’s been three years,” Koenig said, referring to Father of the Bride.
He added: “We’ve been working on music and, yeah, we were just recording in England for a while, now back in L.A., working with everybody, and, yeah, I mean, I think we’re… I’m always hesitant to…. Sometimes I oversell how close we are with the record because who really knows? But we almost have an album’s worth of songs.”
Vampire Weekend’s third album is a remarkable progression from a band that was already functioning at a high level. The songs are more spontaneous and dynamic and, along with the more lived-in sonics, *Modern Vampires* finds the group taking a leap forward into emotional directness.
MVOTC is ten years old. Wild. Good occasion to slam a Dunkin Donuts iced coffee and reflect:
Rostam and I spent about a year writing and recording this album before we moved into the final phase with Ariel.
It was far and away our most “studio album.” MVOTC didn’t have songs like A-Punk or Cousins which began as riffs and started to come to life in the practice room. This is an album of more deliberate composition and detailed, patient recording.
About half the songs started with something I’d written (Hannah Hunt, Finger Back and Step had been kicking around as concepts for a few years) and the other half all began with a piece of music from Rostam, often with drums, bass and everything sketched out. I remember when he played me the beat for “Don’t Lie” for the first time. That drum pattern and descending chord progression on the organ moved me deeply. I started singing the vocal melody almost immediately.
I similarly remember hearing his first instrumental of what became the heart of “Diane Young.” That music was exciting and it took me a long time to write lyrics that I thought were worthy of it.
I think this is the VW album where Rostam’s composition and production shines through the most and he deserves special praise and attention for his work here. His opening strings on Everlasting Arms are a favorite moment of mine…or the penny whistle melody on Unbelievers…or the explosive drum beat on Finger Back. All amazing work on his part. These moments and many more are why this album still means something to people ten years later.
In the final phase, Ariel helped us break through some of the emotional and musical blocks that made finishing the record so challenging. He also helped us discover recording to tape for the first time, giving the album a unique sound in our catalog and providing a great atmosphere when CT and Baio came in to help bring the drum and bass parts to life with their performances.
Shout-out Emily Lazar who mastered it and mixed Unbelievers. Plus the team at XL. Imran, Richard, Ben and Kris (who took a formative walk on the West Side Highway with me.) Steve Buscemi rules.
Thanks for listening!
From dolphins to gardens to Loretta Lynn, the omnivorous frontman breaks down what was on the moodboard for his band’s new album.
Originally Appeared on Pitchfork