ONE PARTICULAR WORD INITIALLY appeared three times on the new Vampire Weekend album, Father of the Bride. On the record’s lead single, “Harmony Hall,” it used to reside in the pre-chorus: “I thought that I was free/From all this suffering,” gently sings Ezra Koenig, the band’s frontman, seated at a patio table at Euro Caffé in Beverly Hills. The track in its final state now bears the word questioning instead. “I’m really glad I changed that. I can’t have the first three singles off this album have the word suffering in them.”
On the TVs inside the restaurant, Notre- Dame Cathedral in Paris is burning. Steps away, on Rodeo Drive, tourists wait their turn to pose next to a bright yellow Rolls- Royce parked at a meter. Koenig doesn’t live in this neighborhood; he simply likes this spot and some of the shops nearby.
The 35-year-old singer-songwriter has a hard time admitting he lives in Los Angeles at all. “Even as recently as a year ago I would still kind of say, ‘Well, I live in both places’ ”—the other place in New York, where Vampire Weekend earned their stripes 13 years ago playing their punkily staccato indie rock in and around Columbia University, Brooklyn firetraps, and garage shows along the East Coast. Koenig owns a place out there, and was born and bred in Manhattan and New Jersey; generations of his family staked out Brooklyn, the Bronx, and the suburb Scarsdale. “There’s no part of the world that I understand better.” On the Golden State, however, “I didn’t exactly choose to live here,” Koenig says. The “b