Saturday, March 19, 2011


In many ways The Vaccines came out of nowhere, this past fall once NME sent a writer down to a gig of theirs, that seemed to be it. They exploded, once the infamous music magazine began writing about them, word spread like wild fire through the blogosphere and through various publications. We featured The Vaccines as one of our Rising Artists in November, back when the band didn't even have a website, Facebook page, not even a record deal, they simply had a few songs that floated around the internet. In just a few short moths things changed drastically for the London four piece, they signed with Columbia, played Jools Holland, did a few shows in the US (we covered their US debut) and even got themselves a nice little website, Facebook page and twitter account. Just this week before the band took SXSW they released their much anticipated debut, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? to stellar reviews in the UK, the album will be out this May in the US. Just before the band made their way back to the US for SXSW we caught up with what seems to be the world's most talked about new rock and roll band. Take a look as we spoke to singer Justin Young about the band's beginnings, recording and making it in America.

How did the band come together?

A friend of ours actually started this band (but quit pretty quickly) and convinced myself and Freddie to join. Pete and Arni came a couple of months later. The idea was just to have some fun. We had a practice room we could use for free so we just met up a few times and wrote some songs.

Being a band from London that plays skuzzy surf-rock, is kind of not the “norm” of what one thinks of when thinking of that city. What are your inspirations? Does the city inspire you in any way?

Often not sounding like you're from a certain place when in fact you are comes down to wanting to be something you're not. With us, though, I feel it's more about escapism and paying tribute to the music we listen to. Having said that, London inspires me and us as a band massively. All I sing about is the city's people and places. I’m inspired by those around me and events in my life. And, as I live in London it's only natural that it's going to inspire me.

Within less than a year, the buzz around this band has been tremendous, how do you explain it?

I can't really explain buzz. Band’s don't start the buzz themselves! People do tend to get excited about things very quickly. It’s flattering but it's important to remember that people lose interest just as quickly. It can be dangerous. We have a lot of faith in ourselves as a band and the music we are playing though so it is nice to feel validation. I do think a lot of it is down to the fact that there are very few guitar bands with pop sensibilities coming through at the moment.

You did not even have an EP and hardly a website out to accompany this buzz; does that add pressure to your live shows to really deliver on the hype?

Not really. As we're not the ones making bold statements, the pressure isn't really on our shoulders. It’s on the shoulders of the people talking it up. That said, we're always keen to prove ourselves. When we play, we want people to feel an energy and excitement. We want people to enjoy themselves and to love the songs. You should always feel pressure to perform and deliver. Hype or no hype.

How was it working on your debut?

We’ve done it very quickly and simply in a virtually live set-up with very few overdubs. We wanted to capture a moment and an energy that we feel we achieve live. You’ve got to make your first album first.

It seems to be a trend now that Surf pop is coming back in a big way; with bands such as yourself, Soft Pack, The Drums, Male Bonding, Surfer Blood. Do you think more bands will emerge with this style? Why do you think it is making such big waves again?

I actually wouldn't put us in the same category as any of those bands. I think it's a side to us, but not the most important thing. Obviously when one band comes along and does well or sounds good it inspires a bunch of other people to do something similar. But, I also it has a lot to do with the fact that the music that the bands you mention seem to be inspired by is simple and fun and often sonically very interesting. Revivalism is so inherent within the culture of new bands and new music that its inevitable all forms of good pop music experiences a renaissance at some point.

With the Guardian, NME and various music blogs (including this one), you have been critical favorites. How do you respond to such high acclaim? Does this add pressure to fine tuning your craft?

I think I’ve answered this already. Every band feels pressure to perform. We really love what we do and we loved what we did before other people had an opinion about it. We’ve worked very hard to get our music to a point where we're proud of it. We don't read anything written about us. If you believe all the positive stuff, you have to believe the negative stuff. That’s distracting and as soon as you start questioning what you do, it’s game over. We just focus on what we're doing. Even if no one was talking about us, we'd want to make a great record and play great shows.

The way you guys have been introduced to the world has been very mysterious. Not much is still known about you guys but the basics. What would you like people to know about you that you feel is important and what may surprise them? In simple terms – Spill the beans!

We actually feel we've told people everything that is relevant. People know our names, what we look like, what we've done in the past and the music we play. That’s more than I know about a lot of people! It’s funny that people thought we were trying to be secretive with our blog. We didn't expect anyone to want to know anything so that's why we didn't tell anyone anything. The blog is actually quite revealing. It’s a pretty wide-ranging insight into our influences and inspiration.

So after all the buzz, you proved your worth to those that may still be skeptical or never heard of you before on Jools Holland. What was that like?

That was so great. It was an honour. Quite surreal! I’m sure a few eyebrows were raised as it was very early to do it but I don't think there is a better way to prove yourself than to play your songs with passion to as many people as possible. I’m happy to be judged on our songs. That’s fair.

Your live shows have also been all the rage, what is going through your head taking the stage each night to a crowd who are begging to see you?

We all get nervous about putting on a good show. The best shows are the ones where you feel natural and when you feel like the audience are enjoying themselves. I think we're preoccupied with thoughts of playing to the best of our ability!

With everything that has happened to you on the last 12 months, do you think you are ready to take on America?

Yes! I can't wait to go and give America what we've got.

I ask this to many foreign acts, is it a big deal for you to make it big in the US?

Yes, but no bigger than it is anywhere else. That said, the USA has inspired all of us massively. Culturally and musically. It’s a very important part of this very English band!