Mixing well-read indie rock with joyful, Afro-pop-inspired melodies and rhythms, Vampire Weekend grew from one of the first bands to be championed by music bloggers into a chart-topping, Grammy Award-winning act that helped define the sound of indie music in the late 2000s and 2010s. After establishing the foundations of their bright, intricate style with 2008's Vampire Weekend, the band soon became hugely successful; they're the first indie rock act to have two consecutive albums (2010's Contra and 2013's Modern Vampires of the City) enter the Billboard 200 at number one. With each release, Vampire Weekend's music grew more diverse, incorporating ska, hip-hop, and '80s pop influences that nevertheless complemented their signature style. Similarly, the band weathered the loss of founding member Rostam Batmanglij to deliver some of their most polished and ambitious work with 2019's Father of the Bride, their third chart-topper.
Vocalist/guitarist Ezra Koenig, drummer Chris Baio, multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij, and bassist Chris Tomson met when they were finishing up their studies at Columbia University. They formed Vampire Weekend in early 2006 out of Koenig and Tomson's hip-hop collaboration L'Homme Run. Taking their name from a short film Koenig worked on during the summer between his freshman and sophomore years, the band started out by playing gigs at the university's literary societies and at parties. The following year, they issued their self-released eponymous EP as well as the "Mansard Roof" single on Abeano Records and the "A-Punk/Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" single on Free News Projects. Praise from music blogs led to several appearances at that year's CMJ Music Marathon, and Vampire Weekend signed with XL Recordings soon after. The label reissued "Mansard Roof," and the band began recording their debut album in locations ranging from a barn to the band members' apartments to Brooklyn's Tree Fort studio.
Arriving in January 2008, Vampire Weekend was one of the year's most popular indie releases, debuting within the Top 20 of both the American and U.K. album charts; meanwhile, the singles "A-Punk" and "Oxford Comma" also charted in the U.S. and the U.K. The band then toured for the better part of two years, while Batmanglij gathered additional accolades by releasing an album with Discovery, his electro side project with Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles. During this time, Vampire Weekend returned to the studio to record their second album, Contra, which arrived in January 2010. Featuring the singles "Horchata" and "Cousins," the album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 chart and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album.
Late in 2011, the band returned to the studio to record their third album with Ariel Rechtshaid, who co-produced the album with Batmanglij. The band wrote and recorded the album at New York's SlowDeath Studios, Hollywood's Vox Recording Studios, and Batmanglij's New York apartment. Described by Koenig as a darker, more organic set of songs, Modern Vampires of the City was released in May 2013. Like Contra, the album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 — making Vampire Weekend the first rock band on an independent label to enter the charts at number one with two consecutive albums — and it also won the Grammy for Best Alternative Album in 2014.
Early in 2016, Batmanglij announced he had left Vampire Weekend but would continue to play with them in the future. That year, the band began work on their fourth album with collaborators including Rechtshaid, Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Danielle Haim, and Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth. Early in 2019, Vampire Weekend released several pairs of songs, including February's "Harmony Hall" and "2021," before the arrival of the double album Father of the Bride that May on the Columbia Records imprint Spring Snow. The LP topped the Billboard 200 and received nominations for both Album of the Year and Best Alternative Music Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards. ~ Heather Phares