Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Interview: The Vaccines

If you aren't acquainted with The Vaccines then you're probably a woodlouse. Or something else that lives under a rock. The hotly tipped surf rockers have been hailed left right and centre as the band of 2011 and are winning fans by bringing back guitars. In a rare moment of quiet, I talk to guitarist Freddie about classic rock, radiation and how nobody ever learnt anything about life listening to Ri-Ri...

How's Justin's throat? We heard you had to cancel some dates...

He's doing fine. He couldn't really speak for a couple of days but he got really good at communicating without talking. He'd be holding a bottle of water and cover over some of the letters to spell out what he wanted to say.

I read that Katherine Jenkins doesn't speak for 24 hours before a gig. Maybe he should try that?

Yeah. He could start being a proper diva and demanding hot water and lemon.

Do you feel it's a sign you've been pushing yourselves too hard?

It is tough because none of us have ever done this before. The good thing about being a guitarist is that you can play night after night, but when you're the singer and your instrument is your voice you do get worn out. It's not like it isn't fun though.

The hype from the music press must be putting a fair amount of pressure on you. NME have called you “the saviours of rock and roll”. How does that kind of thing make you feel?

Wow. I don't think I can answer that. I just know this hype isn't something that's come from us.

Would you say 'rock and roll' is a fair assessment of your sound then?

I'd say that rock and roll is something we identify more with than say, traditional rock music. Rock is stuff like Bon Jovi which has about as much relevance to my life as electro pop, but rock and roll like Elvis or The Smiths, that's really important. Those are the kind of bands that change people's lives. If you look at someone like Rihanna, she's very talented but nobody ever changed their outlook listening to her. On the other hand I went to see the Strokes when I was fifteen and everything changed. I'll be a fan forever.

Would you be happy to be part of the Top 40?

Absolutely. We're not actively marketing ourselves towards it but we wouldn't object. You want as many people to hear your record as possible.

Do you feel like you're measuring yourselves against other 'Class of 2011' musicians like Brother or James Blake?

Not at all. James Blake is really good. Really talented. But he has nothing to do with the music that we make.

I guess people are trying to put you in a 'new music' box...

It's odd because people over here seem obsessed by the newness of music. When we were listening to the radio out in America they'd be playing all this classic rock from the last 40 years – Pearl Jam, Black Crowes, Nirvana. It almost feels like there's too much new music.

So what are you guys listening to at the moment?

Tame Impala. A lot of Clash. I'm also really into the Undertones. Everyone knows the singles but they forget what great albums they made. I want to bring them back. I'm planning to start an Undertones revolution.

In the spirit of newness, tell us something we don't know about the Vaccines?

Justin used to be a straight-edge punk.

If the world does end in 2012, what would you have hoped to have achieved?

To have built a bomb shelter. I'd love to be the last person on earth and just to get out and have a wander around before the radiation melted me.

So you wouldn't invite anyone else?

Maybe my Mum. I think it would be more intense to be alone though. Also, I've never built anything in my life so I'd probably mess it up and I wouldn't want anyone to see that.

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