Tomson grew up on a farm in the Imlaystown section of Upper Freehold Township, New Jersey, and later recorded parts of the group's first album there. He graduated from the Peddie School as salutatorian and then Columbia University where he studied economics and music. Tomson met the members of Vampire Weekend while attending Columbia University—he took music classes with Rostam Batmanglij and started the group in their senior year. The name of the group comes from the movie of the same name that Ezra Koenig and his friends made over summer vacation. They self-produced their first album after graduation while concurrently working full-time jobs.