Vampire Weekend's name is derived from lead singer Ezra Koenig's amateur film of the same name. The band gained attention via a variety of blogs, such as Stereogum. The band claims to be influenced by both African popular music and Western classical music, describing their genre of music as "Upper West Side Soweto", with such songs as "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" referencing Congolese soukous music.
The members of the band met while attending Columbia University; they then self-produced their first album after graduation while concurrently working full-time jobs. Koenig and drummer Chris Tomson first collaborated as members of the comedy-rap band "L'Homme Run". They are managed by Ian Montone, who also manages The White Stripes. They are signed to XL Recordings, of which the band said in an interview: "Before any labels had contacted us, we actually mentioned XL as the kind of label we'd ideally like to end up on. Just going on their roster alone, they obviously have good taste and support their artists well."
In 2007, Vampire Weekend's song "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" was ranked 67th on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of the year. In November 2007, they toured the United Kingdom with The Shins. They were declared "The Year's Best New Band" by Spin magazine in the March 2008 issue, and were the first band to be shot for the cover of the magazine before releasing their debut album.
The band's debut album Vampire Weekend was released January 29, 2008. It was a success in the US and UK, peaking at number 15 on the UK Albums Chart and number 17 on the Billboard 200. Four singles were released from the album; while "A-Punk" peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart and number 55 on the UK Singles Chart, "Oxford Comma" peaked at number 38 in the UK. "A-Punk" was ranked the 4th best song in 2008 on Rolling Stone's list of Best songs in 2008. "A- Punk" was also used to open the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly feature Step Brothers. The song is also featured in the hit UK television show, The Inbetweeners. In 2008, Vampire Weekend were dubbed the "whitest band" by Christian Lander, the creator of the site Stuff White People Like, in an interview with Salon.com. During the summer of 2008, Vampire Weekend performed at the Central Park SummerStage in Manhattan and a fundraiser for Music for Democracy in October, where they shared the stage with David Crosby and Graham Nash. In December 2008, Vampire Weekend's debut album was #2 in Under The Radar magazine's "top 50 albums of 2008" issue. In the January 2009 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, their self-titled album was dubbed the 10th best album of 2008. Their song "Ottoman" was used during the credits of the 2008 film Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.
The band's debut album also came 42nd on NME's 'Top 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade' list.
The band's second album, Contra is scheduled for release on January 11th (UK) and 12th (US) 2010. The album includes the tracks "White Sky", "Taxi Cab", "Run", "Diplomat's Son", "Giving Up The Gun", "Horchata", "Holiday", "I Think Ur a Contra", "California English", and "Cousins". In an interview by Xfm Chris Tomson stated that their upcoming album will have 10 songs and run around 36 minutes long.
On October 5th, 2009, the first track of their new album "Horchata" was released as a free download on the band's website. The album's first single "Cousins", was released on November 17, 2009.
As of January 5th 2010, the entire upcoming album was up for streaming on the band's website.
Their new album, Contra was released on January 11, 2010 in the UK and January 12, 2010 in the US.