Vampire Weekend has been taking some time off from touring lately to focus on recording the follow-up to their 2008 debut. When the anti-poverty ONE campaign asked them to play a charity show, though, the indie rockers agreed right away. “As a musician, sometimes it’s hard to figure out the best way that you can do anything for causes that you’re interested in,” Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig tells the Music Mix. “Just living in New York City, and in my experience as a teacher in a low-income neighborhood before I was in a band, the inequalities stare you in the face. Any organization that’s spreading awareness of that kind of inequality is doing a good thing.” So tomorrow night, the quartet will head down to Spartanburg, South Carolina, to play a celebration concert for Wofford College, the winners of the second annual ONE Campus Challenge to raise awareness of global poverty.
After that, it’ll be back to Brooklyn, where the band hopes to finish its second album in time for a September release. As with their debut, VW keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij is producing the sessions. “For the last month or so, it’s just been us by ourselves in this small studio, working every day,” Koenig says. “It’s nice after having been on tour so much to be in a slightly different situation, but it’s pretty intense. We’re really trying hard to do everything that we want to do.”
With the songwriting process more or less finished, Koenig says the band has moved on to refining its studio approach. “It’s definitely going to be a recognizably Vampire Weekend sound, but there are going to be new sounds. We’re trying to challenge ourselves not to use the same bag of tricks that we used on the first album — different instruments, stuff like that.”
One new song that’s almost certain to wind up on the album is “White Sky,” which Vampire Weekend brought to Jimmy Fallon last month. Notes Koenig: “The recorded version is very different from how we played it on Fallon. Because we were still working on the recording, we decided to do this very slow acoustic version [on TV]. The real version is more like how we’ve been playing it live. There’s a lot of synth sounds, and it’s a little more pumped up.”
Koenig also revealed some of his favorite new music, giving shout-outs to VW pals Harlem Shakes, British electro act Metronomy, and Toy Selectah, a DJ with whom the band spent time on a recent tour of Mexico. “[Toy Selectah] just put out a free mixtape with cumbia and reggaeton mixes that he made of songs by people like Chromeo and Feist,” Koenig raves. “He’s really incredible.”
More from EW’s Music Mix:
Vampire Weekend perform new song, talk second album on Jimmy Fallon
Passion Pit: The next big indie-rock breakout band?
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EW’s 50 Most Heartbreaking Songs of All-Time