Britain has got talent! The Vaccines are living proof of it. Just when you wondered if pop music would ever sound rock n roll again, the Vaccines came together and saved the day. They’ve only been together for less than a year and have already taken the stage by storm. Justin Young, the lead vocalist who sings beside Freddie Gowan’s elastic rhythms and atmospheric keyboards and drummer Pete Robertson’s sprinting beats and Anri Hjorvar’s solid bass. Together, they form infectious melodies and lyrics, full of energy and bounce that either leaves you singing along unintentionally or nodding heads in agreement. Claimed by Zane Lowe to have ‘kickstarted a new era”, the Vaccines may have produced more than just a ground-breaking album.
How did you guys get together?
Justin and i had a friend, who persuaded us to start playing together. A few months in to it, he left to do something else, but me and justin wanted to keep going with it. Justin knew arnie, arnie knew pete, and we started rehearsing as often as we could, and that’s it really.
What’s the meaning beind your name?
Who are your biggest influences, musically?
Pantera. Only joking. My biggest influences are probably gene vincent and sonic youth. My biggest influences on this record were modern lovers, velvet underground, and lyrically the magnetic fields.
How would you describe your sound?
We write simple pop songs really, rock n’ roll, and just try to be as direct as possible. We try to go back to the blue-print of that symphonic, classic and pure pop music. Were not trying to reinvent the wheel, just make it turn again.
Your playing at glastonbury not once, but twice this year. How do you feel about it?
Its exciting and a privilege. I’m excited to play to that many people.
What is the band’s creative process?
On this record, i would make a demo at home then play it to the rest of the band, and if they like it then we would work on bringing it to life really, and making it relevant to the rest of our body of work. A lot of the time was spent simplifying and making sure that the song ruled, and making it as pure as possible through arrangements and instrumentation. Unless we all fell in love with the melody and the idea of the song in its initial form we wouldn’t really bother pursuing it.
How have the last few months been for you guys?
Busy and fun. It’s a great way to live your life really, doing things and going to places. There have been a lot of ‘firsts,’ a lot of new experiences. It’s been pretty full on.
Did you think that this was the way things were going to turn out?
No. Simple answer.
With all the hype surroundin you guys, do you think it adds a certain pressure to deliver a certain sound?
I think that now that the album is out, i don’t feel any pressure, because i think people know now whether they want to listen to us or not. I think that hype is speculative, and there is no reason for speculation anymore because i think its pretty clear what we are. I feel pressure to put on great live shows, and that sort of thing. But i don’t feel any pressure to live up to anyone’s expectations bar our own. The only pressure comes from ourselves really, were ambitious and we want to be the best that we can be. That’s pressure enough i think.
How did you guys feel when you were nominated as sound of 2011?
I think it is meaningless really. I suppose it gives you a platform, it means that a few more people know who you are, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really mean anything.
And what about the critics?
I hate critics. I hate that there is this culture where one view seemingly represents a collective view. I’m not just saying it because i’m in a band, i just hate critics of all forms, i think it’s arrogant, and it’s a shame that people can’t make up their own minds.
You all come from very different backgrounds, musically speaking, how did you match up all your different styles?
We have a very clear vision of what we want to do. We try to find a common theme with all of our tastes and our experiences; it was finding depth through simplicity.
For such an underground band, how was it getting signed to a major label like columbia records?
I suppose it was quite scary, because you automatically get swept up in to that culture of expectations, sales figures and that sort of stuff. But i’m really happy there.
Are you playing any festivals?
Yes. Essentially, this summer will be like a giant 3-month festival with no break.
You new album is called ‘what do you expect from the vaccines?’ so for anyone who hasn’t heard of you guys, what can they expect from you?
I’m not in the habit of answering questions that i know the answer to. Its open to interpretation.
After your done with all these festivals are you going straight back in to the studio?
Nope. Were touring, we might go to america again. The album only came out a month ago. Were going to enjoy this one for a while.
When can we expect a second album?
Not for a while.
Who are you idols?
I don’t have any.
Interview by Bianca Spada
Words by Georgia Bray Wilson
Photography by Elliot Morgan
MUA: Zoe Moore using MAC