Interview with the Vampire

With a distinctive sound that mixes elements of indie rock with Afro-pop, Vampire Weekend was one of the most hyped bands of 2007. The B-Side caught up with bassist Chris Baio about playing with The Shins, their European tour and the pressure to work with producer Switch. Don’t miss their debut record which drops Tuesday, Jan. 29.Vermont Cynic: Hey Guys, thanks for doing this and congrats on your recent bit in Fader, good looks. The word “Columbia” was in there a whole bunch of times, how do you feel about being identified with your old stomping ground/ whole Ivy League prepster thing? Chris Baio: I think we’re OK with it. We formed and developed as a band at Columbia, so all the references to it make sense on some level. Hopefully that stuff is played down later on–it’d be kind of weak to be written about as this “Columbia band” when we’re five or ten years out of college. VC: You recently opened for The Shins on a European tour; what was it like opening for a band like them? CB: From the beginning we made an effort to headline as many shows as possible. That said, I think it’s still important to experience playing for another band’s fans. The Shins fans seemed very receptive and we got to play some massive concert halls, so it was definitely a good experience for us. VC: What was your favorite city/stop on the European tour. Sub-question: was it more like a.) “Eurotrip” or b) “Hostel”? CB: Amsterdam is an incredible city and might be the perfect fusion of those two movies. VC: Let’s say you have to play a gig under the sea. In a strange turn of events Nick Nolte, star of Jefferson In Paris, kicks the band off a plane. Luckily you land safely on a desert island with a single box containing a turntable, electricity, each band member’s favorite record, a gallon of white rum and four coconuts. What would those records be? CB: I can’t speak for my compatriots, and I don’t really have a consistent favorite record, but I’d probably have Can’s “Ege Bamyasi.” I can imagine drinking coconut juice while listening to “Swim Swan Song.” VC: Which sets your hearts aflame more, the story of the movie “Remember the Titans,” or the movie “Remember the Titans?” CB: I, like much of America, could watch Denzel do anything for two hours, so I’d have to say I prefer the idea of the movie rather than the idea of the story of the movie. Haven’t seen it though. VC: Amongst others, I’m really re?minded of bands like Paul Simon, Unit 4+2 and The Travoltas when I listen to your music. Who do you consider your major influences aside from the more obvious? CB: It’s tough to talk about influences like it’s a deliberate thing, since you spend your whole life listening to all sorts of music. When we put songs together, a lot of the writing is more instinctive, so no one’s really saying “here’s this chord progression inspired by…” whoever. So it’s hard to say. VC: What are your non-musical influences? CB: The world around us. VC: With the likes of M.I.A., The Prodigy and Dizzie Rascal on your label, how do you feel about what can only be described as dance music’s explosion onto the indie scene? Do you feel any pressure to get Diplo to work on your next album? CB: I like our label a lot, but I hear that nowadays the real pressure is to work with Switch. VC: How do you feel about your album leaking before its release date? What leaked albums have you guys ‘stolen’ recently? CB: We’re cool with it. We wouldn’t have been able to tour like we have without that sort of stuff. Last leak I remember stealing was the most recent Animal Collective album, but I bought it later so I feel comfortable sharing that with you. VC: How do you feel you’ve changed, if at all, during the making of your up?coming album? CB: I’ve gotten much much better at falling asleep in uncomfortable positions.