Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij Discusses His Broadway Scoring Debut

As previously reported, Vampire Weekend producer and multi-instrumentalist Rostam Batmanglij has written the score for the new revival of Kenneth Longeran’s 1996 play This Is Our Youth, which stars Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson. Talking to Associated Press, Batmanglij explained his working process and why he decided to take on the challenge in the first place. “I studied classical music at college so, for me, this is almost more of what I was trained to do then what I do for a living,” Batmanglij says. “I hear it in everything, and I think it’s a part of all the music that I make.”

Batmanglij wrote five classical pieces for the play: Pieces that play at the beginning and end of Act 1 and Act 2, and a longer piece that plays when theatergoers are arriving. “I know there’ll be some people sitting in the audience who will be listening to every note just because they can’t help it,” he says. “I’m like that sometimes. If there’s music around, I have to be listening to it. It’s hard for me to turn that off. I have to keep it interesting for those people.”

The play itself, which takes place in 1982, features three Frank Zappa songs, and Batmanglij didn’t want to write any of his own songs for the play itself. “[Batmanglij] understands the function of music without you having to explain it to him,” says play director Anna D. Shapiro. “If he sees that one part of the narrative is taken care of, he’s not going to double down. He’s not going to try to out-Frank Zappa Frank Zappa. Thank God.”

Emerging songwriter Cera recently told us he didn’t work with Batmanglij on the music (“that’d be a union violation”).

The play opens 9/11 at Broadway’s Cort Theater.