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Ezra Koenig Elaborates On Vampire Weekend's "Emotional And Personal" 'FOTB'
"I always wondered if people pictured us banging our heads against the wall for six years. In a way, given that it's a lot of songs, it came about more quickly than usual," the GRAMMY-winning frontman said in a new Stereogum profile
Today, Vampire Weekend released their highly anticipated fourth studio album, Father of the Bride. It's been six years since the band released their last LP, the GRAMMY-winning Modern Vampires Of The City.
The indie stalwarts have been working up a buzz around FOTB for months, first when they revealed the album's title/eminent release and dropped the first double batch of singles, "Harmony Hall" and "2020" on Jan. 24, and then with a tour announcement, two more double-single releases and, finally, today's 18-track double album drop.
Now, in a deep-diving Stereogum profile, Ezra Koenig offers insight into the jubilant ease and complexity of the new release, how he and the group have grown, and how collaboration has helped the group expand its creativity and shine.
"I always wondered if people pictured us banging our heads against the wall for six years. In a way, given that it's a lot of songs, it came about more quickly than usual," Koenig told Stereogum.
Since Modern Vampire's release in 2013, a lot has happened for the group; Rostam Batmanglij departed, the other two remaining members, bassist Chris Baio and drummer Chris Tomson both released solo albums, and Koenig created an anime series on Netflix. In the interview, Koenig shares how he has, finally, fully embraced his role as the band's frontman.
"I never felt comfortable calling myself the leader because I felt like that was something that I had to earn. But I did start the band, so I had some degree of leadership. In the beginning, I made it clear that I was going to choose the songs. It wasn't important for me to write all of the songs, because I love writing songs with other people, but it was important for me to have that curatorial role."
And with Father Of The Bride, which Koenig first revealed they were working on and nearly 80 percent done with back in September 2017, both the collaboration and storyline are rich. It is the first time the group has brought in featured artists, with HAIM's Danielle Haim dueting on three songs, and The Internet's Steve Lacy making waves on two others.
Both Koenig and GRAMMY-winning producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who returned after co-producing Modern Vampires with the frontman, explain the collabs happened organically. As Rechtshaid put it, "The only people involved on the record were involved because it felt organic. It's an informal revolving door of the homies and the homegirls."
Koenig is evidently the type of artist always striving for growth and expansion, to always be covering new territory and pushing their group's creative boundaries. As a group with songs like the unabashedly nerdy "Oxford Comma," from their 2008 self-titled debut LP, their new material feels lighter and more lyrically accessible, but very much in the traditional Vampire Weekend vein of epic storytelling and upbeat sounds.
"Am I going to be throwing open the dictionary for every song? That doesn't feel exciting," Koenig said. He continued, "A lot of my favorite songs accomplish things I've never accomplished. What am I scared to say? What haven't I done? Part of it is emotional and personal, and part of it is the novelty of new artistic challenges."
He also explained how the duets he shared with Haim, one third of the GRAMMY-nominated sister trio of the same name, played a key role in this new artistic exploration. "A true duet is people in a shared situation with slightly different perspectives," he said. "That felt like the type of thing I hadn’t done before. It was hard. Lyrically, I think this is the most rigorous I've ever been."
Haim, meanwhile, emphasized the authentic nature of the collab. "I've known Ezra for a couple years now and have always been a fan. The first song he showed me was 'Hold You Now' and I loved it immediately. He asked if I would sing it with him and the rest kinda just happened naturally."
The album title, which Koenig shared had been "in the running three or four years ago," also ended up taking on a deeper meaning when Koenig recently became a father himself, with partner Rashida Jones.
"Why would a phrase like that be evocative to me? I think, naturally, you start looking at new themes as you get older. Father Of The Bride is meant to make you think of a wedding, a life cycle event, a moment of transition. I didn't know that I would be a father by the time this album came out… But it's not a crazy coincidence that a major life cycle event would happen to me in the years after I started thinking about what adulthood really was."
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors
Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it
Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.
McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award.
The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.
"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."
With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.
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Original Misfits Unleash One Night Only L.A. Reunion Show
Dark punk legends to play first show with Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only since last year's Riot Fest reunion
There's big news today for punk-rock fans aware that the Misfits made much more than just T-shirts.
The massively influential punk band announced a special show touted as the "only 2017 performance in this world… or any world" and billed as "The Original Misfits" in Los Angeles at the Forum on Dec. 30.
This will be the first Misfits show featuring original singer Glenn Danzig and original bassist Jerry Only with long-time guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein since the band reunited for a pair of Riot Fest appearances in Chicago and Denver in 2016. Last year's Riot Fest gigs, which featured drummer Dave Lombardo, marked the first time in 33 years the original Misfits members played together.
"OK Los Angeles, you've waited almost 35 years for this, here's your chance to see the "Original Misfits" in this Exclusive L.A. only performance." said Glenn Danzig. "No Tour, No BS, just one night of dark metal-punk hardcore brutality that will go down in the history books. See you there."
Tickets for this "one night only" show go on sale Friday, August 25.
Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images
Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes
GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program
On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.
Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.
"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."
The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.
"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."
Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards
Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category
The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.
Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville
Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.
Championships – Meek Mill
In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.
i am > i was – 21 Savage
Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.
IGOR – Tyler, The Creator
The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.
The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae
Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.