Islands’ Nick Thorburn On Vaginas And Vampire Weekend

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.