Vampire Weekend Tease Punky, Jammy New Offshoot With An Imaginary Backstory

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Vampire Weekend’s new album Only God Was Above Us comes out in a couple of weeks, and the press cycle has commenced. The band has been doing their own Vampire Campfire podcast (another episode is set to drop soon), and Ezra Koenig has popped up in at least one newsletter. Today, The New York Times published a feature with the group. In it, they tease a new trio made up of the remaining original Vampire Weekend members Koenig, Chris Baio, and Chris Tomson that’s separate from the main band.

Per Baio and Tomson, a project started taking shape in a Los Angeles studio space where the band met up during the pandemic, recording hundreds of hours of music in the process. “The world had stopped working and a lot of what we normally do was just not being done,” Tomson told the Times. “There was something about just playing with no expectation — to just play with my two very close friends without an agenda.”

Baio added: “It’s very rare for people in a band of our size to be alone together. No engineer, no tour manager, nothing like that. It felt like being at the outset of the band again. And we did that for three years and change, whenever we were all in town.”

And Koenig weighed in: “We kind of have an imaginary back story for that band. It was a band that came out around 1989, 1990, and they were a little bit too punky for the jam scene and a little bit too jammy for the punk scene. And there’s a little bit of the Minutemen in there. The truth is, this is very premature because that band is still hashing out its sound. I don’t want to say too much.”

When asked whether or not this unnamed, amorphous trio could open for the band: “That has been discussed,” Koenig responded.

Elsewhere in the interview, Koenig laid out the “patron saint” of each Vampire Weekend album: Paul Simon for their debut, Joe Strummer and Sublime for Contra, Leonard Cohen for Modern Vampires Of The City, and the Grateful Dead and Phish for Father Of The Bride. The patron saint for Only God Was Above Us: the 1997 tour that brought together Rage Against The Machine and Wu-Tang Clan.

Check out the whole profile here. Only God Was Above Us is out on April 5.