Vampire Weekend: Now at center stage

The band Vampire Weekend: From left, Chris Baio, Rostam Batmanglij, Ezra Koenig and Christopher Tomson.
Soren Solkaer Starbird/XL Recordings

(CBS News) Vampire Weekend is the indie band with a catchy name that's on top of the charts. Anthony Mason takes note:

Their name sounds like a Goth band, but Vampire Weekend has a history of not being what they seem -- four Ivy League-educated musicians who write brainy songs that are also infectious.

This week they have the number one album in the country.

They met a decade ago as undergraduates at Columbia University. Ezra Koenig, guitarist Rostam Batmanglij, bass player Chris Baio and drummer Chris Thomson played their first show at Lerner Hall in 2006 in a "battle of the bands."

Four groups entered; Vampire Weekend finished third.

"So how would you judge your performance that night?" Mason asked.

"We were not bad," said Koenig.

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So they started playing regular gigs on campus - like at the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity.

"It was fun to play these shows where there was really no stage," said Batmanglij. "So it's just like, people and the band."

The band took its name from a high school film Koenig had made.

"When did you decide that the name would stick?" Mason asked.

"We're still talking about it," Koenig laughed.

WEB VIDEO: To watch the music video of the Vampire Weekend song "Diane Young," from their new album, "Modern Vampires of the City," click on the player below.

But Vampire Weekend proved a useful name in Google searches, when not much else pops up: "It was only people who had as their favorite movies back-to-back 'Interview With a Vampire' and 'Weekend at Bernie's,'" said Baio.

Their sound developed early: a cross-cultural mosaic of rock, African guitar pop and classical music with a provocative preppy veneer.

The band quickly generated buzz on Internet blogs. In 2008, Spin Magazine picked them for its cover even before Vampire Weekend's first album was out. By the end of the year that debut record had sold nearly half a million copies.

"We were beneficiaries -- and partially the victims -- of the kind of explosion of Internet music culture," said Koenig.

Victims, because some critics didn't get the "preppy" joke. One accused the band of having the "putresecent stench of old money."