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TALK: Vampire Weekend

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In an internet second, Vampire Weekend went from playing college house parties to being heralded by SPIN magazine as “The Year’s Best New Band…Already.” Pretty amazing stuff, considering the band posed for the publication’s cover before their debut album was even released. In the last three months alone, the recent college grads have played a string of sold-out shows, performed on Saturday Night Live, and had to turn people away at their “filled-to-capacity” showcase at this year’s SXSW.

How did it happen so quickly for Vampire Weekend? Are they just that good? Or did the internet bloggers of the world help give them a shortcut to success?

Jim Shearer: Are you tired of the word blog yet?

Chris Baio: To be honest, I never really read blogs when I was in college, as far as music blogs go. I guess since they started writing about us, I followed them [some], but I’m a little bit tired of them.

Rostam Batmanglij: The idea of writing and documenting your thoughts can be a very good thing, but now there’s almost this certain culture and type of writing that’s not thoughtful and just sort of silly.

Chris: We’re definitely grateful for all the support that certain websites have given us, but you can also understand when it’s overkill too.

Jim: Do you guys ever read any of the articles written about you?

Chris: You try not to. There was definitely a novelty to it at first. It was really encouraging and exciting–when we were starting out–that people were writing about us. At this point, I don’t think we really gain anything by reading about ourselves.

Jim: I ask, because it’s almost impossible reading about you guys without coming across the word “blog”.

Rostam: To some extent, with any band, what’s written about you early on perpetuates itself–that’s the nature of journalism. I think we’ll definitely get away from that as we make our next album. I’m not worried about that sticking with us at all.


(left to right: Ezra Koenig, Chris Tomson, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Baio)

Chris: I think that blogs, for whatever reason, become the go-to story for new bands that are emerging. With us, we did have support from blogs, but we were also getting written up in the New York Times fairly early on. I don’t view ourselves as a “blog band” phenomenon. I think that’s something that’s kind of overplayed, and it’s a somewhat clichéd media story, that bloggers have [built] these bands up. I don’t think it really works like that.

Jim: Various media outlets have also talked about your quick rise to fame. To me, you guys seem like you’re handling it very well. Was it difficult to go from playing house parties to the band everyone’s talking about?

Chris: As a band, we we’re living a day-to-day existence and not really thinking about a big picture like, “Oh my God, we were formed two years ago and now our first album’s doing really well.” For us, with day-to-day stuff, we’re just focusing on playing good shows and going out there trying to connect with as many people as possible.

Jim: Do you get nervous? When you played Saturday Night Live, did you feel any pressure?

Chris: I mean it’s sort of nice, they give you a whole dress rehearsal before the show, so by the time it’s live you’re used to it. Ultimately, you’re just playing in a studio for however many people. I had a good time playing on SNL, I wasn’t freaking out.

Jim: Can you take us through Vampire Weekend’s practice regimen?

Rostam: (laughs) We don’t really get the opportunity to practice that much, because we’ve been touring a lot. I guess we practiced for SNL once. We have sound-check on tour, so we get a little practice everyday. At this point for us, I think that stands in for practice. When we get home from all this touring we’ll definitely set up a real regimen.

Jim: Before you ever hit the road, how often did you practice?

Rostam: We don’t, we just write new songs.

Chris: Maybe we’d have a practice before a show whenever we were playing in New York, which would maybe be every other week.

Jim: For the type of music you play, it seems like the band has to be pretty “tight”?

Rostam: I mean we fine-tune it as we go. I think that we’re all pretty good with our instruments–I think that helps.


Jim: Rostam, you’re the group’s super producer. Before you produced Vampire Weekend’s album, how much production experience did you have?

(left: Rostam Batmanglij)

Rostam: I guess throughout college I was always trying to record stuff and get better at it. By the end of school, I got better.

Jim: Any good recording stories? Did you guys have to sneak into anyone’s dorm room to record certain parts of the album?

Rostam: Chris Tomson, our drummer, he worked for the official radio station of Columbia [University], so that let him sign-out these practice rooms, that were originally built for bands to practice in. [The bands] were too loud, so they lost their practice [privileges]. The rooms were just left there for acapella groups–I guess those were the only people quiet enough to use them. We kind of did our own thing and got in there late at night. We started recording the drums for “Oxford Comma” in one of those rooms.

Jim: Was it all done in Pro Tools?

Rostam: Yes, all Pro Tools, so we could start on drums, and then bring it back to our apartments and add bass, strings, and vocals.

Jim: Will you produce the next Vampire Weekend album?

Chris: I would like Rostam to produce our [next] album. I think he did a good job on the first one.

Jim: Any pressure from “the powers that be” to enlist an outside producer?

Chris: We make all the decisions, it’s up to us.

Rostam: I’m tempted to work with other producers, I think it could be fun. I think I have an idea of how things could sound on our next album, and I’m excited to make it happen.

Jim: Anything in the can yet?

Rostam: We have a couple songs now that we can play live.

Jim: Can you explain the “flavor” of these songs?

Rostam: (laughs) I guess we’re trying to get deeper, in some ways, with African music. Hopefully the album will sound like a “grime” record. That’s all I’ll say.

Jim: Are you going to get Dizzee Rascal to rhyme on it?

Chris: We’re not opposed to that at all. I think Dizzee Rascal’s great.


Jim: Speaking of rapping, do you guys remember any of the hooks from Ezra Koenig’s (Vampire Weekend’s frontman) rap group, L’Homme Run?

(left: Columbia University rappers, L’Homme Run)

Rostam: Like I was saying before how I got better at recording throughout college, one of the things we did was record [L’Homme Run] songs in our dorm room.

Jim: Are those up on the internet?

Chris: The myspace page for L’Homme Run should still be up.

Jim: Rostam, you’re responsible for getting the world “crunk” in the Oxford English Dictionary?

Rostam: I guess so. I was an intern there one summer and at the end I got to choose three words and define them. At the Oxford English Dictionary they revise everything really extensively. Having read the final version [of “crunk”], it’s pretty close to what I had.

Jim: When was the first time you heard the word “crunk”?

Rostam: Maybe in the Outkast song.

Jim: Rosa Parks“?

Rostam: “Rosa Parks”–definitely. That was one of the citations we had in the database. They have a bunch of people who read and then send in examples of words that they think have not been defined yet.

Jim: Were there any other good words that were added when you were there?

Rostam: (laughs) Actually as funny as it may seem, I remember something about the word “blogosphere”.


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…