Exclusive: Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig Sounds Off on Class Warriors
Published Jan 13, 2010Who says that the Internet is just a vacuum of useless opinions? Not Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, that's for sure. Evidently, he's been paying attention to all the haters dissing his band over the past year.
When asked in an Exclaim! interview why he thought that Vampire Weekend had raised the hackles of class warriors when there are plenty of other indie rockers that came from privileged backgrounds, the singer/guitarist had more than a thing or two to say.
"It's simply because of how we dressed and that we had songs with names like 'Campus,'" Koenig joked, before getting a tad more serious about "these people that railed against us."
In long, unedited rant form, here's what Koenig had to say:
Plenty of the leading lights of indie rock grew up much more privileged than us. But why would anybody feel the need to expose that or undermine the music being made. And maybe it is because as a music journalist you don't always get the chance to engage in socially progressive commentary. We work in music too and sometimes you make music just because it sounds nice, or you talk about music just because it makes you feel good. It's not always tied into revolutionary politics or saving the world. Sometimes, when presented with the opportunity to cast a group of people as the villains it can be very exciting, even though, ultimately, it's incredibly reductive and it's not serving anybody. I think people found it easy to portray us that way.
Let's not forget that there are a lot of self-hating middle-class people in the world. In some ways it alleviates your own guilt to rail against other people.
It's very complicated, the feelings that go into talking about class, which is why something as simple as boat shoes or a Polo shirt can really set somebody off. Music tries to think critically about that. Maybe if you're a middle-class person and you're listening to music that you perceive to have come out of hardship, that can also be a way for you to feel like you're doing something positive. But I don't think anybody should ever think that by merely listening to music that you're compensating for anything.
So, yeah, Koenig's heard you, Internet, and he's none too impressed. But, seriously, the man has some good points.
Vampire Weekend's new album, Contra, came out on Tuesday (January 12).