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hard sells

A Blink-182 Guy’s Sad Pitch to Vampire Weekend

This week's New Yorker has a nice feature (not online, tragically) by Lizzie Widdicombe on Vampire Weekend, wherein the band politely dodges questions about Paul Simon's Graceland, Pitchfork-founder Ryan Schreiber calls them "The Darjeeling Limited brothers of indie-rock bands," and we learn that VW's tour manager once hit the road with Barbra Streisand. Things turn uncomfortable near the end, though, when the group visits the California office of Blink-182's Tom DeLonge (for some reason, they're shooting a tour documentary in which they interview famous West Coast musicians) who tries to get them to sign up for some music website he owns, Modlife, a revolutionary online Internet platform, filled with business models, social networking, and various hyperlinks. So, how'd that go?

Widdicombe observes:


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 25 percent 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!"

Haha. Okay, continued:

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," [keyboard player Rostam] 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. Batanglij 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?"

Later, in their van:


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.

Aw — don't be discouraged, Tom! Maybe the Japandroids could use some term life insurance?

School of Rock [NYer]

Photo: Getty Images