Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig earned super respect from this writer when during a recent interview with Pitchfork, he was asked to discuss the spoiled white-kid label often given to him and his band. He answer was priceless:
When people try to frame us as these spoiled rich kids, I want to say, “Well, hold up. You don’t know anything about my family, you don’t know where I went to high school, you don’t know how I paid for college.” I mean, I grew up in New Jersey listening to the Ramones, the Clash, Elvis Costello, and I was always keenly aware that a lot of punk was created by people who came from middle-class backgrounds. Whether some people can accept the idea that I probably grew up listening to the same music as them isn’t my problem, ultimately. But in my experience, a lot of people don’t feel that way. We have 14-year-old kids coming to our shows, and those kids aren’t thinking, “Can I listen to Vampire Weekend and the Clash?”
It’s not an issue. But even trying to engage in that conversation is ridiculous and petty, because essentially it’s just a bunch of college-educated people trying to compete for who has it tougher, when the truth is none of us had it tough.
Now, my advice to you, you who refused to listen to Vampire Weekend’s debut because they were too rich and too white and their shirts were too perfectly pressed and their girlfriend’s went to the school you couldn’t get into, is to lighten up a bit and approach Vampire Weekend as a fresh, new band, one without all the trappings you’ve added. Once you give a single like “Cousins,” a chance, you’ll find out that Ezra and Co. are a lot like you. They listened to the same punk and new wave bands you did, and they know how to lay down quite the happening groove.
VIDEO: Vampire Weekend – Cousins
Contra, the follow up album to Vampire Weekend’s much talked about self-titled debut, will be out January 12th on Beggars Group/XL Records. Contra’s first single, “Horchata,” is available now as a free download from the Vampire Weekend website.