5 Fascinating Facts About Vampire Weekend Frontman Ezra Koenig

Happy Birthday to Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, who turned the big 4-0 on April 8, 2024. Koenig co-founded the band in 2006 while he and the group’s three other original members were attending Columbia University in New York City.

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Vampire Weekend is widely considered one of the premiere indie-rock acts to have emerged since the turn of the millennium. The group is known for its eclectic combination of punk, Afropop, world beat, and art rock influences. Koenig is not only the band’s lead singer and guitarist, but he’s also written or co-written almost every song the group has recorded.

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In honor of Koenig’s milestone birthday, here are five intriguing facts about the musician:

The Band Was Named After a Never-Finished Short Film by Koenig

According to a 2008 Artist Direct interview with bassist Chris Baio, the band’s name came from the title of a short film Koenig started making during the summer in between his freshman and sophomore years at college.

Baio said Koenig was inspired to make the movie after watching the 1987 vampire flick The Lost Boys. He noted that the plot involved a man named Walcott who travels to Cape Cod to warn a local mayor that vampires are attacking the United States.

[RELATED: The Meaning Behind “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend and Why It Was One of Their Early Defining Songs]

Baio explained that Koenig shelved the project after only two days. Then, during his senior year at school, he edited the footage into a two-minute trailer. The band also formed right around this time, and the members decided the film’s title would make a good name for the group.

Baio also pointed out that the film served as inspiration for “Walcott,” a track from Vampire Weekend’s 2008 self-titled debut album.

Vampire Weekend Has Won Two Grammy Awards

Vampire Weekend took home Grammys in the Best Alternative Music Album category in 2014 and 2020. The band won the trophies for Modern Vampires of the City and Father of the Bride, respectively.

The band also was nominated for Grammys in 2011 for the Alternative Music Album honor for Contra, and in 2020 for Album of the Year for Father of the Bride.

Koenig, meanwhile, received an Album of the Year nod in 2017 because of his songwriting contribution on Beyoncé’s Lemonade. He also was nominated in 2020 in the Best Rock Song category for penning the Vampire Weekend tune “Harmony Hall.”

Vampire Weekend Has Released Three Consecutive No. 1 Albums

Three of Vampire Weekend’s first four studio album topped the Billboard 200 chart. After the band’s self-titled debut album peaked at No. 17, Contra (2010), Modern Vampires of the City (2013) and Father of the Bride (2019) all spent a week at No. 1 on the chart.

Interestingly, Vampire Weekend is the band’s bestselling album, achieving platinum status for album equivalent sales of more than 1 million according to the RIAA. The other three albums have been certified gold by the RIAA for album equivalent sales of more than 500,000.

Vampire Weekend released its fifth album, Only God Was Above Us, on April 5, 2024, and its debut chart position hasn’t been calculated yet.

Koenig’s Significant Other Is a Well-Known Actress

In 2016, Koenig began dating actress Rashida Jones, known for her roles on the TV shows The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Angie Tribeca. Jones also is the daughter of famed producer Quincy Jones and late Mod Squad/Twin Peaks actress Peggy Lipton.

In August 2018, Koenig and Rashida Jones had a child together, a son named Isaiah. In a March 2024 interview with The Guardian, Koenig referred to Jones as his wife, although their marriage hadn’t been publicly announced.

You May Have Heard the Vampire Weekend Song “A-Punk” in a Movie or on TV

“A-Punk,” an infectiously catchy tune from the Vampire Weekend album, has been used in various movies, TV shows and video games. Films that have featured the song include Step Brothers (2008) and Furry Vengeance (2010).

The song also has been heard in the television programs Superstore, 90210, and Friday Night Lights, among others, and in the video games Lego Rock Band, Guitar Hero 5, Guitar Hero Live, and Just Dance 2.

Most recently, “A-Punk” has been featured in TV commercials for the Dick’s Sporting Goods sports apparel brand DSG.

Vampire Weekend Is Touring a Lot in 2024

Vampire Weekend has major touring plans for 2024 in support of its new album, Only God Was Above Us. The band’s schedule includes more than 40 North American dates, as well as a series of late-fall shows in Ireland, the U.K., and mainland Europe.

Tickets for Vampire Weekend’s concerts are available now via various outlets, including StubHub.

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