Vampire Weekend's headlining gig at the Pitchfork Music Festival in July will mark the band's first live performance in nearly a year, but the Brooklyn-based indie rockers have been keeping busy. As bassist Chris Baio tells Rolling Stone, they've been hard at work on the follow-up to their 2010 LP, Contra. "We've started many songs," Baio says. "Obviously we haven't been rushing it. We take it very seriously. We'll be incredibly psyched to share it with the world when it's done."
The band has amassed plenty of material, but as frontman Ezra Koenig echoed in a recent chat with Rolling Stone, they aren't working with any deadline in mind. "We do have a ton of stuff," said Koenig. "It would be cool if it was [released] this year. I always want to release music as soon as possible, but more and more I'm realizing it's something you almost have no control over. We just never want to be in a position [where] when we put out something, we feel could've benefited from more time."
Baio, in particular, has been making the most of his time off the road. On May 21st, the 27-year-old will release his debut solo EP, Sunburn, under his DJ moniker Baio. A three-track set of undulating dance grooves that capture a vibe the bassist describes as "hopeful melancholy," it's the culmination of a hobby Baio took up half a decade ago as a student at Columbia University in New York.
"I had always really loved electronic music and dance music," says Baio. "Then when the band started, that kind of got put aside for awhile. But I found that while on tour a lot of nights, I would still feel like I had a lot of energy. And there are opportunities when you play in a band to go out and DJ."
Given the band's extremely light tour schedule last year, Baio had time to reacquaint himself with his love of DJ'ing. "I'd lock myself in my little office in my apartment with CDJs and a mixer and just practice mixing all day," he says. "I did that quite a bit while we were touring the last record and realized when we finished touring that I really wanted to pursue it."
Baio started work on the EP last February. His first completed track was "Sunburn Modern" – a cut whose title, Baio says, was inspired by a nasty, "modern art"-looking sunburn he received last year while on a trip to Mexico with his girlfriend.
The bassist says he plans to continue releasing additional solo tunes; he says he already has "a bunch of songs" completed and several others he's currently working on. "It's definitely something I plan on pursuing in the foreseeable future," he adds.
Baio does admit that there are drawbacks to going at it alone. "When you DJ, people can be incredibly rude to you in a hilarious way," he says. "A lot of times there will be pretty drunk people who just come up to you and tell you they really hate what you're doing. Something like that will sting for two seconds, but it's not worth not putting yourself out there as an artist."
Additional reporting by Matthew Perpetua