Ezra Koenig joined Matt Wilkinson in-studio on Apple Music 1 to discus the forthcoming Vampire Weekend album, Only God Was Above Us. Ezra talks about how the album was influenced by New York and London, and the artwork and aesthetics for the record. Ezra also talks about on his love for UK music, in particular Squeeze and Dev Hynes and how the band are gearing for life on the road soon.

Ezra Koenig on the album being influenced by New York and London..

There's a lot of New York imagery, in the sense of place. But in this old school, 20th century way, I've described it as being in a haunted way, versus back in New York. Sometimes when you're living in all these different places. And also you have a lot of time to yourself, because sure, I have friends here and stuff but the wife's working long days, kids in school, sometimes I'm just walking the streets of London, pounding the pavement, just thinking. And naturally your mind goes to the past and history and all the big stuff. So definitely New York was on my mind, but being here was great because yeah, we had such a good time, just the family living here. Then it wasn't hard to get Ariel to come out here. Ariel Rechtshaid, my main man. It was just so nice. We worked at this nice little studio.

Ezra Koenig on recording in London…

I think it's called Promised Land. I think Fred Again helped build it with Ferdie. And so we had a little room there and we'd walk over there and it was cool because less distractions than being in the States. A really sweet couple months of working together and some really important demos came out of that time, like the track one Ice Cream Piano. The first time we really did that was there in Maida Vale and was very hyped about it.

Ezra Koenig on the artwork for the new album…

We got very lucky. I've found this series of images taken by a guy named Steven Siegel in the eighties. I don't want to disrespect him by calling an amateur photographer, but it didn't become his main profession in life, put it that way. I mean, he's certainly a very talented and skilled. He's a true artist.

So he took all these pictures in the eighties when he was a young guy and he had them online. There's a tiny bit of press about them. I'd read about the story of these overturned subway cars in New Jersey that he and his friends took these surreal images in. There's one image in particular I fell in love with, which became the album cover and gave the album its title, because a guy's holding a newspaper and the headline that day in 1988 was, Only God Was Above Us. But then as we went deeper, he has all these amazing images, and then even better at a certain point, he said, "I have hours of video footage too," and I kind of hate making videos, just because we work so hard on the records and then you suddenly have a few months to come up with a video concept and never felt that comfortable in front of the camera. Then also, nowadays you going to play a festival, you need something to throw on the screen. So we suddenly have this wealth of footage that's, essentially, the album art come to life, it was unbelievable.

Ezra Koenig on Squeeze and being a fan of UK music…

Oh, definitely. It was a mutual appreciation. It came up recently, actually on Time Crisis, my radio show, but we were talking about the Squeeze song, Pulling Mussels (From the Shell). And I was thinking about the early days of Vampire Weekend, my rough mood board was, what is this roughly supposed to be? I remember thinking and talking a lot about Squeeze, Elvis Costello, XTC, and so there always was this English thing. Like any good American music fan, I grew up on so much English music.

They’re (Squeeze) obviously an amazing songwriting team and I've always loved their lyrics, but yeah, I've always loved UK music. Then when we came here, it was such an exciting time to be a young indie band.

Ezra Koenig on touring…

I'm a little bit out of practise, but we've had so much fun rehearsing. We all have a great time just getting together and coming up with ideas. And also it's nice, five albums worth of material, you can have a lot of fun. Which songs should sound the same they always sounded? Which songs should be totally different? We have some new instruments in the mix on stage, so as much as I'm a bit of a homebody, or I'm used to a pretty slow pace of life, that part, I'm not thrilled about. The shows and hanging with the guys and coming up with ideas and playing, that's very exciting.

Ezra Koenig on Dev Hynes...

I mean, I met him in the Light Speed Champion days and always loved Dev. I think he's a very important artist of our generation. And actually he and Ariel worked together early Blood Orange stuff, so whatever. We see him anytime I'm in the same place always love to just catch up. But yeah, he came through, and in New York, we were trying to finish this song and he'd broken his arm playing soccer and he was like, "Maybe I could play a little bass." And he's like, "It's not really not working with the cast." And then there's a drum set there and he started playing drums.