Inspiration can strike from anywhere, just ask Ezra Koenig. After becoming incredibly burnt out following Vampire Weekend's grueling Modern Vampires of the City album cycle, the singer-songwriter needed to take a break from creating and playing music. During his six-year break, the 35-year-old became a father and focused on his Time Crisis radio show with co-host Jake Longstreth. Around five years ago, Koenig went to see Longstreth's Grateful Dead cover band, Richard Pictures, play a show. And it was there that he started plotting out the band's next chapter.
"Five years ago or so, when I saw them, I was struck by the fact that that was the first time in a few years that I’d seen a band onstage playing music with guitars that seemed compelling, joyous, exciting," Koenig explained during a recent interview with Rolling Stone. "It almost felt like, 'Ah, this is the answer.'"
"The six years Vampire Weekend was away seemed to be this really fraught time in terms of how people felt about rock music, and there’s so much conversation where people are like, 'Pop music is the only thing that’s relevant now and rock needs to be more like pop,' or whatever," he continued. "And there’s always a feeling about this conversation that seemed weirdly opportunistic and careerist. Because if you really love music, you just do what you want to do. Seeing a cover band is like the antidote. That’s just people having fun."
Earlier this year, Vampire Weekend released their fourth studio album Father of the Bride, which features that crunchy, jammy quality the Grateful Dead is known for. They're also currently on tour in support of the album, with plans to hit the road in 2020 too.
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