Koenig: "Well, maybe that's the thing that I'm scared of, 'cause I've seen plenty of bands who start to think of it as a job and then, every few years you put out an album. That's what you're supposed to do because that's your job. And if you didn't do it, you wouldn't be doing your job.
"But we've always kind of waited until, like, the good ideas came to us. And we had to feel very strongly about an idea. Well, it kind of feels like putting the cart before the horse to start thinking about, Oh, this is my job. The reason that we release albums is because we're musicians -- whereas I feel like the reason that we're musicians is because we have something to say via our albums.
"And if the day comes where we don't really have any ideas, I can't imagine that we'd ever be able to just kind of throw something together. We would just get too depressed. We get depressed when we hear a mix of a song that sounds a little bit off, so to imagine that we'd release an entire album that we weren't excited about seems impossible.
"But luckily, now that we've done three, hopefully we've bought ourselves a little bit of time. Like with this record ["Modern Vampires of the City"], it took a little bit longer than we expected. We worked on it for about, well, the time in between the records ended up being about 3 1/2 years.
"If you had asked me, back in the 'Contra' days, 'How quickly do you want to get your next album out,' I would have said something much shorter than 3 1/2 years. But now that we're here, it feels about right, and it's good that we took our time with it."
Mason: "How does it feel different for you?"
Koenig: "This album?"
Koenig: "It's funny to compare the three albums because even though I was a part of the creative process for all three, in some ways when I look back to the first album, that time seems so distant to me. It's hard for me to fully remember how things felt.
"To me, it feels very natural. I kind of feel like we're doing the same thing that we've always done. Some things change, but it's like we were talking about before, in the early days, when I pictured my memories of whatever, working on songs and writing with Rostam, I picture us being 18, in his dorm room, sitting in front of his computer, making some sort of demo of the song, 'Bryn.'
"Then I picture the apartment he and C.T. had in Greenpoint right when they graduated and me taking the bus up from Bed-Stuy, and us working on 'Oxford Comma' or 'A Punk,' and hearing some of the flute parts for the first time.
"And then, you know, I picture this album. It's kind of like sitting in his apartment where he lives now and playing me some stuff on piano, us talking about it. So, some things change, of course, but it does kind of all boil down to the same basic idea of this collaborative project of writing and recording songs.
"So, of course, every album hopefully is reflective of the time period in which it was made. I'd like to think that I've changed a little bit and hopefully learned something since I graduated from college, and probably everybody changes a little bit, but then there's some part of me that just doesn't believe that, does kind of feel like (laughs) nobody changes, everybody's the same.
"And I guess it's for other people to look at the three albums and kind of see the way that they . . . I can step back and try to come up with some decent explanations of the way that each album changed and expanded our universe, but you have to be so immersed in the album that you're making.
"So yeah, I don't know, it's a hard question to answer. I'd like to think that when all is said and done and people look back on the records that we've made, everyone will feel equally Vampire Weekend -- I don't know what the adjective is, 'Vampire Weekend-y'? (laughs) But each one will be kind of evocative of a different time period. I think that's the best that you can hope for as a band."
Mason: "I was talking to Pete Townsend, who was clearly excited by the fact that, when he was young, he was sort of the voice of his generation in England, and he knew it. And then when he finally sort of passed out of that point, he was pretty honest about how it kind of shook him and he didn't quite know what to do. And I can see how that, if you feel like you've got this connection and all of a sudden it stops, where do you go and who are you writing for, if you're not writing for [them] anymore or they don't need you anymore?"
Koenig: "Yeah, people like music that's . . . 'honest' is such a strange word to use to describe art, but that feels like the person who's making it is really just expressing what they want to express. They're not trying to be something else or something. And that's why, to me, like, 'Graceland' is probably the greatest grown-up album of all time, just because it was actually a guy who was -- I mean, how old was [Paul Simon]? Was he in his 40s by then?"
Mason: "He may have been."
Koenig: "I mean, certainly older than the average pop musician, but he made music that expressed his taste at the time -- lyrically was about being a divorced man with children. Things that he probably would not have been singing about in Simon and Garfunkel days.
"And because he kind of just did what he wanted to do, it ended up being a huge album. But yeah, that's something that I think about sometimes, too, just trying to hold on too hard to you. Especially 'cause, like, rock music is so associated with youth, I think sometimes people have this feeling, like -- "
Mason: "It's like, if you have three or four really successful albums, there's sort of these expectations that people seem to have that you need to keep doing that. And I'm like, why? You've built a catalog, people love it, do what you want to do."
Koenig: "Yeah. I think people fall into the trap of betraying the principles that made them successful in the first place. And if you became successful by following your own quirky instincts and then you start to somehow become more conservative or try to repeat yourself or try to give people what you think they want, it's not like -- there's no reward for it, anyway. Not only do you usually end up failing, but people probably, like, abandon you anyway."
WEB EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Ezra Koenig on calling music work.
WEB EXCLUSIVE: Delve more deeply into Vampire Weekend by reading an extended interview by Anthony Mason of.
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