Vampire Weekend kicks off Red Butte Garden's music season

Published May 20, 2013 9:27 am

Music • Indie-rock band plays sold-out show at Red Butte.
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Don't accuse Vampire Weekend of jumping on the bandwagon.

The indie-rock band was formed in the dorm rooms of Columbia University in 2006, a full two years before "Twilight" burst into theaters.

Still based in New York, the band released its third album, "Modern Vampires of the City," recently. The album blends world-music influences with modern pop and rock. It also explores weighty issues such as faith and mortality with upbeat melodies that belie the seriousness of the lyrics and themes.

Lead singer Ezra Koenig, along with guitarist Rostam Batmanglij, drummer Chris Tomson and bassist Chris Baio, will open Red Butte Garden's summer concert series on Tuesday. In advance of the sold-out show, The Tribune spoke to Batmanglij by telephone.

There has been talk that the new album is the third of a trilogy. Is that true?

We found all kinds of connections between our three albums musically and lyrically — but only after the third 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 finalized 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.

Are there themes, experiences and moods of New York City that are communicated in your music?

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.

Is your public persona different than your private one?

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.

God is referenced throughout the album. Does your exploration of faith and fundamentalism have anything to do with aging and mortality?

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 20s: hope and despair, sadness and joy.

You said in Rolling Stone that "with this album, we've had to be less self-conscious than ever." What do you mean?

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 song writing. 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.



Twitter: @davidburger —

Vampire Weekend

The indie-rock ban performs with High Highs.

When • Tuesday, May 21, at 7 p.m.

Where • Red Butte Garden, 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City

Tickets • Sold out