Vampire Weekend will kick off the Red Butte Garden concert series with a sold-out concert on May 21.
The band's Rostam Batmanglij answered questions from The Tribune about the band's new album, "Modern Vampires of the City," which will receive the second "A" grade of new albums I have reviewed this year. (The first was the Mavericks.)
1. There has been talk of the new album being the third of a trilogy. Is that true, and if so, what does that say about where the band is at and where the band hopes to go next?
We found all kinds of connections between our three albums musically and lyrically. But only after the 3rd album was completed. We knew that we wanted our first three records to be connected in terms of visual aesthetic though. That was something we were dead set on even before we finialized the album art for the first record. We're not sure where we'll go with the next record but we do have some ideas already floating around.
2. Are there themes, experiences and moods of New York City that can be shared with the rest of the country, or is New York City an island that is unfathomable to people in places such as Utah? How do you communicate the spirit of New York?
What drew us all to NYC when we were 18, and what's kept us there is probably the eclectic nature of the city. There are so many cultures and musics colliding in New York, hopefully that's something that naturally comes through in the music we make.
3. At this point in your career, is the perception of who you are (through the media and reviews) different from whom you really are?
I think people have made presumptions about us. Things that we are engaging with in our songs are things that fascinate us. You can be fascinated by a world but not 'of that world.' I think in the early days some people didn't see that as possible.
4. God is referenced throughout the album. What drew the band to exploring faith and fundamentalism, and does it have anything to do with aging and mortality (also referenced in the lyrics)?
We want to reflect the world we live in in our songs. Religion is a part of that world, and more specifically, living in a world with multiple religions and multiple perspectives on religion. Similarly, we want to express the range of feelings we've experienced throughout our twenties; hope and despair, sadness and joy.
5. You said in Rolling Stone that "with this album, we've had to be less self-conscious than ever." What does he mean, and how did it affect the sound of the album?
What I meant by that quote was that so much of this album came out of off-the-cuff bursts of creativity. Me and Ezra got together over the course of about a year working on songwriting. We were trying to write the best songs we could and trying to approach it decisively. Writing in that way means there is no time to second-guess your decisions or make considerations. There were many writing sessions that didn't amount to anything, but in contrast, songs like "Don't Lie,""Everlasting Arms," and "Unbelievers" came together alarmingly quickly and they are some of our proudest moments as songwriters.
6. You are kicking off the biggest concert series in all of Utah on May 21 at Red Butte Garden, a botanical garden in the foothills of the city. Does summer evoke any memories or emotions for the band?
We love playing outdoors. We'v got some great memories from outdoor shows. The amazing Coachella dry heat the first time we ever played that festival in 2008. We had an insane show at Central Park where there were thunderstorms coming down throughout. Hopefully the weather will be amazing for our Utah show.