this weird thing where to even know about certain things or have certain banks of knowledge is to push yourself into some corner as an elitist. It’s a horrible idea, the notion that education is linked to a specific, snobby way of life.”
As for occasional sneering at the content of their songs. “It seems that writing a smart song or even a song which references something like a Mansard roof gives people a certain impression of who you are, which inevitably turns out to be wrong.
“What’s funny is that the music which has inspired me the most is hip-hop, and it is full of obscure references to all kinds of things from all around the world. The fact that singing about something obscure or not well known can make you an elitist is funny when you break it down and compare it with rap lyrics. I find that some of the most pretentious lyrics are talking about very vague, generalised things.”
He remembers his Ivy League days fondly, though this doesn’t mean he will go around
sporting a Columbia sweatshirt at weekends. “That’s what an investment banker will wear as his badge of identity with his alma mater. We don’t own any of those sweatshirts, so our connection is through our songs.
“It’s important to say that people do have their own individual experiences at college, and Columbia to us was about the band. Columbia is known to be an academically rigorous good school, but that doesn’t mean that everyone there is smart or got in because of their super-good grades or are dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. Some people might want to go to a good school because it will help them get a high-paying job afterwards.
“The image of college we can relate to is a place where you can dedicate yourself to reading books and learning for a few years. It’s a unique experience which most people have to give up after college for the rest of their lives.”
When he graduated, Koenig landed a job in a school in Brooklyn. Teaching English and History to teenagers, in that year before the band took over his life, was an eye-opener after his cloistered college years.
“I came from a culture where you could relax a lot, pick the classes you wanted to go to and hang out with your friends. It was so intense to go from that into a situation where you had to try to be some kind of authority figure imposing discipline. I liked the kids and the experience, but it was rough.”
Koenig won’t likely be going back to that job anytime soon, yet he fervently believes that there’s more to life than Vampire Weekend. You get the sense that he might well walk away from all this if something else came along to pique his curiosity.
“We’ve been very fortunate because things have happened so quickly for us. It’s fairly mind-blowing to be doing these tours and playing these festivals. But I think all of us feel that this is not the only thing we could be doing. It’s important for people to try other things in their lives. As much as I love pop music and how important it is to me, I know there are other things I might like to try.”
For example, he could always pick up where he left off with his Internet Vibes blog, which gave him the space to write about everything from Ivy League sportswear to ruminations on why the population of Ireland is so small.
“I liked doing the blog because it allowed me to formulate my thoughts. In terms of starting it up again and having a normal blog as opposed to having a band blog, I just don’t think I have the time right now to be an active participant. I think most people would just see it as a Vampire Weekend blog and I don’t want that.”