nick_thorburn_on_vampire_weekend.jpg

There’s an interesting interview with Islands’ frontman Nick Thorburn over at Merry Swankster (thanks for the tip, Kelli). In it, Thorburn gives his two cents on Graceland — wow, that album’s on everybody’s minds these days — and therefore on Vampire Weekend — wow, that band’s on everyone’s … But before we open that can of worms, Nick has an explanation for the Arm’s Way album art.

MERRY SWANKSTER: I wanted to ask about the Arm’s Way album cover. Most of the reactions I saw to it were pretty perplexed. To me it suggested that if you opened up your chest there’d be some sort of 70′s classic rock utopia inside. Is that fairly on-base?

NT: No, it’s a vagina.

Glad that’s settled; we asked for the explanation, and we got it. And we must say, MuffinsQ nailed it. Ahem. Then Nick digs into VW.

NT: I don’t know, I think there’s a of of things that I’ve been apart of that … you know the Unicorns were one of the first Montreal bands of this generation that kind of started to make a name for ourselves. And we took Arcade Fire on tour before their record came out. We don’t take credit for the Montreal wave of music but I’m not gonna say I’m not slightly ahead of the curve sometimes. It’s not an ego thing, it’s just a fact.

You know we didn’t write Graceland, we were just influenced by it. People who grew up around that time were. The difference between us and Vampire Weekend is that we’re not parroting the genre, going in and mining the territory that Paul Simon was in such a boring and uncreative way and just basically ripping him off. We were doing it in a way that wasn’t reducing it to … parody really. I mean when Paul Simon was doing it it was a discovery for him and we were trying to just get in sync with that same sense of musical exploration. I feel like with a band like Vampire Weekend is just seems so calculated, going through the same narrative styles and trying really hard to imitate. And it just sounds like an imitation. I don’t even liken what we did to what they’re doing. We had the same touchstone which was Graceland, which is a great starting point. That’s what Paul Simon’s great thing was is that he opened alot of people up to South African music and Brazil and all over and he was creative about it and you have to be creative in the way that you interpret and explore music. And I don’t think that band is a very creative band I guess.

Strong words from NT. Wonder what Montreal thinks.

Arm’s Way is out 5/20 on Anti-. It’s good (and good live).

Here’s the vagina in question.

Comments (51)
  1. pedro  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    Islands are great.

    Vampire Weekend are OK.

    Graceland was and is a hugely overrated piece of yuppie wank shit.

  2. If I had to choose sides, Islands would get my vote. VW is okay but their next record could either make or break them.

  3. asdf  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    Islands also just covered the Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset”
    http://www.youaintnopicasso.com/2008/04/17/islands-waterloo-sunset-the-kinks/

  4. That, made my day. Very body-part-based this album, no?

  5. aa  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    Daddy’s money can only get you so far Nick…..

  6. today  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    Wow, let’s hope this starts a war of words between two trust fund, untalented little shits. How about using that energy and writing a song people will give fuck about?

  7. Vampire Weekend doesn’t sound much like Graceland

    Graceland doesn’t have anything to do with Brazil

    I miss the Unicorns

    • oh.  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

      You’re right, it doesn’t sound much like Graceland, but it really really wants to, even though it fails.

  8. mike  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    what’s a car doing inside that vagina?

  9. mike  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    what’s a car doing inside that vagina? who is that, Britney?

  10. Ralf  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    Islands > Vampire Weekend.

    By far.

  11. Crappy Canadian Bandmemeber  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    Well paint my face white and call me a musician!

  12. Islands ยป [vampire weekend] ?.

    And there is no way that’s a vagina.

  13. YO YO YO MONEY  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    i hate the mars volta

  14. YO YO YO MONEY  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    i hate the mars volta

  15. Who Will Cut Your Hair When You Are Being a Douchebag?  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    Hate to state the obvious, but…

    Vampire Weekend Self-Titled >>>>> Arm’s Way

    Arm’s Way tries to be epic but fails miserably / laughably. What a self-indulgent piece of shit album. Don’t go on the aggressive towards a band with a solid debut just because you fumbled on your sophomore disc and became a parody of yourself.

    Yes, Nick, it is an ego thing. Bring back the Unicorns.

  16. Kevin  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    Hahaha, it is SO not a vagina. This guy loves himself way too much.

  17. grover  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    oh man sounds like its time to get competitive about a genre to borrow heavily from

    dude islands are so gangsta

  18. Duke  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecilia” is better than all of this nonsense. Vampire Weekend, Unicorn Vagina, Nick Thornberry, and all that other jazz.

  19. Gr  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    Well, both the debut Unicorns and Islands albums are FAR better than VW. I haven’t heard Arm’s Way so I can’t compare that yet (has it even been released yet? or did you just steal it like a douchebag?)

    And there’s no comparison between Islands live who always put on a great and raucous show — and VW’s stand-around-in-sweaters and occasionally make some half-hearted lame little dance moves.

  20. diego  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    I told you!!! Everyone was all, “no it’s the weed” or “no you’re a perv” or “no it’s a reflection of the albums morose themes of death and dismemberment” but HA. I win. Va-Gi all the way.

  21. garfunkel solo > simon  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    simon & garfunkel > graceland > the unicorns > islands >>>>>>>>>>>>>> miley cirus > macarena > color me badd > kfed >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>? nickelback > vampire weekend = linkin park

  22. These two bands are good But Los Angeles has new bands and new blood and Long Beach is on fire.Come see some new up and coming acts and rock out to the youngsters who are full of energy at a free all ages show by the Pyramid

    Thursday May 1st At The Nugget at Cal State Long Beach 1212 Bellflower Blvd.Long Beach 6-10 pm All Ages and free

    Office: (562) 985 ? 1624 Put On by KBEACH.org

    Our local band Horrors Of Toledo http://www.myspace.com/horrorsoftoledo

    Heres a link to a previous article
    http://www.ieweekly.com/cms/story/detail/the_horrors_of_toledo_at_the_glass_house/1130/

    and a attached photo ..

    Horrors Of Toledo have recently played 2 times live on L..A.’s own KXLU and opened up for Banyan at Mike Watts 50th Birthday ,David Lovering (Pixies)UnHoly 3 and most recently the great The Deadly Syndrome and Dusty Rhodes River Band at the GlassHouse and are currently getting played In Georgia,North Carolina ,New York and locally with their demo .They are finishing up their debut album on new label VAmped Records http://www.myspace.com/vampedrecords

    Also local awesome and I mean awesome bands The Soft Hands http://www.myspace.com/thesofthands and Thinking Aloud .

    The best thing is that its all ages and free .

    Horrors Of Toledo go on at 6pm.

  23. These two bands are good But Los Angeles has new bands and new blood and Long Beach is on fire.Come see some new up and coming acts and rock out to the youngsters who are full of energy at a free all ages show by the Pyramid

    Thursday May 1st At The Nugget at Cal State Long Beach 1212 Bellflower Blvd.Long Beach 6-10 pm All Ages and free

    Office: (562) 985 ? 1624 Put On by KBEACH.org

    Our local band Horrors Of Toledo http://www.myspace.com/horrorsoftoledo

    Heres a link to a previous article
    http://www.ieweekly.com/cms/story/detail/the_horrors_of_toledo_at_the_glass_house/1130/

    and a attached photo ..

    Horrors Of Toledo have recently played 2 times live on L..A.’s own KXLU and opened up for Banyan at Mike Watts 50th Birthday ,David Lovering (Pixies)UnHoly 3 and most recently the great The Deadly Syndrome and Dusty Rhodes River Band at the GlassHouse and are currently getting played In Georgia,North Carolina ,New York and locally with their demo .They are finishing up their debut album on new label VAmped Records http://www.myspace.com/vampedrecords

    Also local awesome and I mean awesome bands The Soft Hands http://www.myspace.com/thesofthands and Thinking Aloud .

    The best thing is that its all ages and free .

    Horrors Of Toledo go on at 6pm.

  24. These two bands are good But Los Angeles has new bands and new blood and Long Beach is on fire.Come see some new up and coming acts and rock out to the youngsters who are full of energy at a free all ages show by the Pyramid

    Thursday May 1st At The Nugget at Cal State Long Beach 1212 Bellflower Blvd.Long Beach 6-10 pm All Ages and free

    Office: (562) 985 ? 1624 Put On by KBEACH.org

    Our local band Horrors Of Toledo http://www.myspace.com/horrorsoftoledo

    Heres a link to a previous article
    http://www.ieweekly.com/cms/story/detail/the_horrors_of_toledo_at_the_glass_house/1130/

    and a attached photo ..

    Horrors Of Toledo have recently played 2 times live on L..A.’s own KXLU and opened up for Banyan at Mike Watts 50th Birthday ,David Lovering (Pixies)UnHoly 3 and most recently the great The Deadly Syndrome and Dusty Rhodes River Band at the GlassHouse and are currently getting played In Georgia,North Carolina ,New York and locally with their demo .They are finishing up their debut album on new label VAmped Records http://www.myspace.com/vampedrecords

    Also local awesome and I mean awesome bands The Soft Hands http://www.myspace.com/thesofthands and Thinking Aloud .

    The best thing is that its all ages and free .

    Horrors Of Toledo go on at 6pm.

  25. Grand  |   Posted on Apr 17th, 2008 0

    Not surprising coming from Nick. Frankly, though, I think Vampire Weekend’s album is better than Arm’s Way. I would even say Nick’s criticism of VW’s album could be more aptly applied to Arm’s Way, since it’s painfully uncreative. The album is so homogenized that the only vaguely surprising thing on it is a drum machine. I know he probably meant it to be that way, but I’d still prefer the VW album if I had a choice.

    Arm’s Way is good performed live, though.

  26. crisis  |   Posted on Apr 18th, 2008 0

    check out the live performance

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=cAncWH6UwMo

  27. Vampire Weekend is a very good band, it just seems that people have viewed them as surpassing their trendy stage because they are now somewhat “known”. Islands is a good band also though

  28. dan  |   Posted on Apr 18th, 2008 0

    i enjoy both of these bands. i don’t see why everyone tries to make music competitive….both these bands are on the “same team” guys.

  29. why the fuck is graceland even thought about at all?

    a man walks down the street and where’s my role model, something role model?

    you’re all fucking crazy

  30. GTFO  |   Posted on Apr 18th, 2008 0

    Total douchebag. Don’t talk about Montreal when you’ve played 99.99999% of your shows outside of Canada, and wanking to the fantasy that The Arcade Fire owes you their career.

  31. Kevin  |   Posted on Apr 19th, 2008 0

    is there anyone more annoying, self-absorbed, and fucking frustrating than Nick “Thorburn” Diamonds

  32. n00000000000000000b  |   Posted on Apr 20th, 2008 0

    nick was always a huge douchebag, even in the unicorns

    vampire weekend ripped off Abe Vigoda (the band), in my opinion..

  33. Kind of harsh words, yes…until you listen to VW and Return to the Sea and realize he is absolutely correct.

  34. Fuck him. Islands suck. Sorry. The Unicorns had something going, and you, sir, have totally fucked it all up.

    You use “Diamonds” as your last name. Paul Simon wrote a song on Graceland called “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.” Who’s stealing from who now? Cock.

    You’re lame, Nick.

  35. machu  |   Posted on Apr 22nd, 2008 0

    yeah nick clearly loves himself but i have to agree. A-punk always seemed like VW copying the unicorns (I was born a unicorn?), who were apparently copying paul simon.

    no joke listen to the beginning of i was born (a unicorn) and then a-punk. Its undeniable

  36. MTL NIGGA  |   Posted on Apr 23rd, 2008 0

    i hate canadian bands that don’t play Canada, this guy is a schmuck

  37. buttwipe  |   Posted on Apr 23rd, 2008 0

    they’re playing more than a fourth of their shows in canada dick hole

  38. inlove  |   Posted on Apr 23rd, 2008 0

    VW are good but what about VVV?
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=XGVfMnyvbPs

  39. I think Nick is right about VW: it’s mimicking, it’s not that creative. But the difference is, I don’t think VW is trying to be anything other than a fun little pop band–so good for them. Islands is trying to do something more complex and original, so good for them, too. Why bother comparing?

  40. minorrockstar  |   Posted on Apr 24th, 2008 0

    Nickelback > Puddle of Mudd. Bring back Creed. (totally fucking joking)

  41. joe  |   Posted on Apr 24th, 2008 0

    nick t is a straight up thug….fuck vampire weekend

  42. It’s not a vagina, it’s a ribcage. That’s the kind of answer clever people give to shitty journalists who try to put words in their mouths.

  43. Dayfed  |   Posted on May 14th, 2008 0

    Vampire Weekend < Islands < God < Usher Feat Young Jeezy

  44. dick weed  |   Posted on May 19th, 2008 0

    Islands is a slightly good album….lots of filler…..not an album I listen to hardly ever even though it’s on my iPod. Vampire Weekend’s album is solid and I listen to it all the time. I listen to as much as Arcade Fire’s albums and Animal Collective’s.

    Islands is the boring band here. And those two new songs I heard by them suck chesticals.

  45. heaven  |   Posted on May 19th, 2008 0

    Wonder how Win feels about this comment?

    Burning bridges sure smell funny.

  46. emily  |   Posted on Jan 29th, 2009 0

    you guys just lowered my IQ six points with your competitive bullshit.

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