I stumbled upon the following bit in the latest issue of the New Yorker and had to share, because the full article isn’t available online anywhere (Abstract can be found here). Google’s experimental OCR converter did most of the transcription work.
Anyway – this whole thing reads like a scene from a modern-day Spinal Tap. Weird music industry insanity crossed with internet startup hucksterism with a dash of awkward standoffishness. I love it.
All of this is heightened by the fact that BOTH parties are being followed by separate documentary film crews, who are filming the insanity. How weird is that? One side of the door: a couple dudes with a painfully conspicuous film crew. Door opens to reveal other dude with painfully conspicuous film crew. I want to see those two shots, in split screen.
The whole thing is amazing. I can barely stand it.
The documentary involved having the members of Vampire Weekend Interview what Koenig called “iconic California musicians.” One of the people they interviewed was Tom DeLonge, the lead singer of the pop-punk band Blink-182, which had its flash point of popularity in the nineties. Early one morning, they stopped, with the camera crew, in an office park off the freeway. A woman holding a Chihuahua answered the door, and led the band and the film crew into a lobby decorated with green Chinese dragon sculptures. They went into a garagelike room – DeLonge’s rehearsal space – with artificial turf for carpet and a chandelier in a plastic box hanging from the ceiling. There was a “guitar boat” from a recent tour, with a set list taped to it: “Dumpweed,” “Feeling This,” “Rock Show,” “What’s My Age Again?”
“It’s so hit-filled” Tomson said, admiringly.
DeLonge came in, wearing jeans and a short sleeved gray T-shirt over a long-sleeved white T-shirt. “Is this the whole band?” he asked. “Is this Vampire Weekend? You guys do quality shit. I’m stealing a lot of your stuff.” DeLonge, too, was being followed by a camera crew. “This is a Blink documentary we’re making,” he said. “It’s a Blinkumentary.”
They sat on a couch, and the Vampire Weekend members took turns asking questions. Both camera crews filmed the proceedings. At one point, DeLonge said, “One of the things that I always wondered, when you have some success as a musician, is, How the fuck did that happen? What am I doing that people like?”
After the interview, he led the band into a conference room with a flat-screen TV and launched into a long pitch for an Internet project he was working on – “a prepackaged Web site” for bands, called Modlife. “I term it an ‘operating system,'” DeLonge said. “You could sell music, you could sell movies, you could sell advance tickets, you could do advertising, you could do automated V.I.P. parties. We’re gonna be putting in live auctions, e-commerce.” He continued, “We’re doing it with the White Stripes.” He said Vampire Weekend could do all of its business through Modlife, with the Web site taking twenty-five per cent of the profits. He demonstrated a video chat-room function by talking to a group of his Fans: “Hey, everybody, I’m doing a demonstration with Vampire Weekend. If you want Vampire Weekend to be on Modlife, say ‘Yes!'” The chat-room users started responding: “Yes!” “Yes!” “Yes!” One wrote, “No!”
DeLonge ignored it, and talked about video blogging: “Do you want to do normal blogs – or do you want to do it in the dark and have lasers going and make it look like you’re from space? And not call it a blog, call it a space cam?” He asked, what have you guys been doing for a Web site?”
“Three out of four of us are on Twitter,” Batmanglij said. DeLonge shook his head. “I don’t want to be freaking on the money part,” he said. “But you guys know and I know that you’re trying to live in an industry that’s dying. And so Modlife is trying to give you the chance to survive.” Then he screened a trailer for a movie that his new band, Angels & Airwaves had produced, called “Love” – images of an astronaut in a space station over swelling music.
Batmanglij started giggling, and DeLonge turned and looked at him.
“Uh, I just thought of something fun that we could do with our band,” he said.
“That’s rad,” DeLonge said evenly. “Cool.”
The Vampire Weekend members got up to leave. DeLonge shook their hands and said, “Consider this stuff.” Then he asked, “Why are you guys so mellow?”
They drove out of the office park and past some strip malls. Green Day was playing on the radio. The band members seemed rattled.
“I started thinking about all kinds of things while he was talking,” Batmanglij said. “Like what it means to be in a band. Tom DeLonge is not that old. He’s thirty-three. Seven years older than me – that’s crazy.”
Tomson said, “You gotta hustle.” No one spoke for a while.
Who is the crazy “Social Media Expert” vampire that got to Tom DeLonge and turned him into such a bizarre tech-startup pitchman? I love that his selling point for video blogging is that you can “do it in the dark and have lasers going” and “call it a space cam.” I love it.