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Interview: Justin And Árni from ‘The Vaccines’

These guys first came to Down Under in 2011, which is like so far far away right now. These guys have achieved so much throughout their career, it’s hard to believe that! They have toured with The Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chilly Pepper, Arctic Monkeys, gone all over the globe with their very own shows, not talking about their successful albums…and still are extremely nice and down to earth! Yes, I’m talking about The Vaccines, and the front-man Justin-Hayward Young and the bassist Árni Árnason in particular, who generously agreed to talk to us about everything and nothing right before their shows with Mumford & Sons and very own headline show this Sunday at The Tivoli!

Hey, guys! So great to chat to you, so you’ve just arrived to Oz?

Justin: Yeah, well, we still don’t know what time is it right now…

You’ve come straight from Singapore, right?

J: We’ve been in Singapore before, yeah, just played one show. It was good, actually, it was fun! We’ve been just discussing it.

Árni: The main reason we’ve stopped by over there was basically that we won’t have to do the 24-hour flight…

J: Break it up, you know.

You’ve been almost all around the globe by this moment, how’s the tour treating you?

J: Well, I think the best thing about tour is that it’s all variable, I feel like, every single day is different. That’s what makes it special, some day suits you very well, the other’s just cruel mistress, but, um, right now we’re pretty happy! It’s Australia, summer, while back home in London everybody’s cold and stuff.

Sure, it’s always sunny, even humid, don’t know when you’ll need sunglasses or an umbrella!

J: Yeah, well, a good thing ‘bout being in a band is just wear sunglasses all the time!

A: Yeah, we’re like came almost straight from the UK, so we’ve been wearing almost same things most of the time, and well, now we’re in Australia, and you’re kinda wearing same thing anywhere you are…

J: Just wear the same thing all the time and you’ll be fine!

Any favourite shows from this tour so far?

J: Oh, it’s a very complicated question…Well, a few weeks ago, in Madrid, we’ve played this festival called DCODE and it was like the last festival we did for the summer, it was really amazing end of the summer. Trying to think where we’ve played since then…Oh and then we just headed to other European shows, Stockholm, Gothenburg, both amazing. Munich was amazing, yeah, I mean, I guess, you can get something from most of the shows, otherwise I wouldn’t continue doing it (laughs). But well, you know, I was at the best shows, like, perfect, when you get the harmony between you having a good show and the crowd having a good show, it’s just that greatest moment, yeah.

I mean…You have some serious past out there! You’ve traveled with real rock giants, hard not to mention that. It’s probably hard to choose, but what was the most fun, memorable experience?

J: Well, yeah, I was actually thinking about it the other day! I think we’ve probably toured with most of the biggest bands in the world. But I think, you know, when you just starting out, you don’t actually think about it. Obviously, like, Rolling Stones, it’s insane to think about, because you think about all the people that were there on the shows, the ambiance and stuff. I don’t know, actually, we’ve toured with some bands we weren’t biggest fans of! I challenge anyone to go on tour with a band and at the and you’d definitely feel that respect for them, you also learn a lot from these bands.

I challenge anyone to go on tour with a band and at the and you’d definitely feel that respect for them, you also learn a lot from these bands.

By the end you just find them incredibly inspiring, whether it’s their commitment, passion or something else. I think we’ve come to respect every band we’ve ever toured with.

A: I think like you learn a lot about how to stay relevant from these big bands, you know. Just being around them is really inspiring.

And when you’ve found out you’re actually doing shows with the Rolling Stones, what did you feel?

J: Um, I just remember thinking I needed to make sure everything goes right, I wasn’t afraid to fuck up, no, just mostly wanted a poster, so I could put it on my wall…Though I don’t think I did.

So, it’s like your fifth time in Australia? How’s the Down Under treating you? Did your thoughts and feelings changed from what was in the very beginning of your ‘relationships’ with Oz?

J: Yeah! Splendour in the Grass 2011 was the first show we’ve ever did in Australia, and we’ve came to the Big Day Out in 2012 also, it was cool. I remember really well coming first to Australia, we’ve come to Brisbane airport and we’ve been really scared that the spider will just drop or something. I was like: “Will I see a kangaroo?”, and a woman we were with said she’d never seen one in her whole life here! I saw it on the very first day (laughs), so yeah, it was pretty cool. Well, now, I’ve come to love Australia, actually. I mean, we get a lot of Australians in London, so sometimes they just sort of “take” your vision of Australia and Australians. But yeah, I always love coming to Australia.

Oh, also, your recent single Give Me a Sign is doing really good out there, well, as a whole album, I should say. What’s behind it? The track, the video especially, which is inspired by the Spinal Tap. It’s an awesome job done there, how did you put it all together?

J: Oh, well, so, it’s been like the fourth and the final kind of video, and, um, single on the record. Each video has been sort of odes to different periods in cinema, it felt fitting in a full circle. Well, you know, Peter Huang, the director who directed it came up with this like mockumentary-rockumentary idea, we thought it was really funny, and it all felt right, yeah. Video shoots may get really boring, because you’re there just like for two days from 6AM to 11PM, being told what to do…But this one was fun! Probably because we didn’t have to do all this stuff (laughs). We’ve mostly been the spectators, really.

Okay, so now you’re doing shows with Mumford & Sons, also doing your own headline shows, and how did the whole idea came up to tour together with them?

J: Um, they’re actually old friends of ours, they’ve been lucky enough, I mean, we’ve all been lucky enough to get to tour together. I mean, we’re certainly not on the same level with them in some parts of the world, like in Australia, America, probably. In some places they’re just hundreds times bigger than The Vaccines, you know. Because we’ve been old friends, they’ve invited us along for the ride and it’s always fun to hang out with them, so we were happy to join Mumfords.

A: They definitely know how to tour, yeah.

What do you actually mean by “know how to tour”?

A: It’s like, they know the composition of touring, every day is sort of planned, but also chilled and everything goes alright, they know how to take care of different sorts of things.

So, from all the stuff you’ve written and released, which songs would you call the closest to you, the most meaningful?

J: I mean, there’s a song If You Wanna on the first record I have an emotional connection to, because well, it was the beginning of our journey and that’s something I’d wanna remember. There’re obviously songs on the ‘English Graffiti’ that I’m really proud of.

The ‘English Graffiti’ definitely seems a bit different from most of your previous stuff. You’ve changed sound a bit towards electronic-ish, I guess, is it where you’re going now? Or how and where all those changes came from?

J: It was actually the first time we’ve had the benefit of time, you know, no frames and more time to ourselves. I went to New York and Freddie then came as well, so this record turned out influenced by the things and people around. I think for the first time we’ve felt like we’re free to explore! Then we’ve came back together and tried to consolidate it all together, get some focus, you know, cohesion. There’s definitely a theme for this record, sort of action-disconnection, and despite of living in that really exciting city, it felt like our whole generation is more disconnected than ever before, so it all just came to my head.

It wasn’t important for us to make something different, but we’ve certainly wanted to vary a bit from what we’ve done in the past, for sure, it’s like transition record for us, as we’re moving forward and wanna become a different band…

So you want to go in a bit of a different direction now?

J: Yeah, I think so, yeah!

Simply out of curiosity, do you have any idols or just people you’re looking up to?

J: I don’t know, actually, I don’t really look up to anyone. But, well, idol…I dunno, Elvis was like my first love. Um, I just love pop-culture, so anyone worthy being on a T-shirt could be my “idol”.

 Ok, the last question! Where do you think you are going now in terms of creativity, song-writing, music and etc.?

J: Do-own…(laughs) I dunno! Upwards, forwards, sidewards, everywhere!

Don’t miss The Vaccines with their very own show tomorrow night, Sunday 8 at The Tivoli, because it is going to besomething! With The Jensens and The Belligerents joining them on the night, you may be absolutely sure you will have zero regrets. The guys are also supporting Mumford & Sons tonight, so both shows are about to be legen-freaking-dary!