Interview: The Vaccines

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(Photo by Roger Sargent)

When we posted a track  'If You Wanna' by The Vaccines in mid August, we had no idea how many clicks it would receive. It was, and still is, a refreshing burst on indie guitar-pop that entertains from start to finish. 

They may be some peoples tip for 2011, yet the band have already made their mark this year.

For the record The Vaccines are: Justin Hayward-Young (vocals, guitar), Freddie Cowan (guitar), Anri Hjorvar (bass) and Pete Robinson (drums).

With the wheels in motion then came an aptly timed double a-side, 'Wreckin' Bar' (Ra Ra Ra) & 'Blow It Up' to permanently wash away any 'one hit wonder' talk. Their performance on 'Later... With Jools Holland' only projected the bands reputation further with a flawless display that perhaps had Kings Of Leon wondering where it all went wrong.

At 1 minute 25 seconds the frantic 'Wreckin' Bar' is something not many bands could get away with, let alone even attempt. But was it intended that way? A calculated kick to music industry in order to announce the bands arrival?

"No not at all" says Justin. "We didn't realise that it was so short until we recorded it. All of our songs are as direct as we were able to make them. That means that a couple of our songs are under two minutes but we do have a couple over five minutes. Even though it is short, it feels complete. There's no need to lengthen it just for the sake of it."

The Vaccines have appeared to do it the correct way round then: Form a band, write, write some more, get good, get better, record, prepare yourself, and eventually, when absolutely confident and ready, reveal it to the world. 

But being around music isn't exactly new for Justin, who previously recorded as folk act Jay Jay Pistolet.

"I hit a real brick wall creatively and I needed a change. A friend asked me to start a band with him for a bit of fun. So I did, and here I am talking to you. It took a bit of natural development to get to what we sound like now, and I still write songs on acoustic guitar, but i think that if you are going to do something new you have to do something completely different otherwise you won't find the inspiration you're looking for. What we're doing is a very refreshing process for all of us."

(cont) "Life is a learning curve, whatever it is you are doing. I think primarily we've learnt a lot about songwriting. For example, knowing what not to do on a song is as important as knowing what to do. Also, you do learn by watching other people around you what to do and what not to do in a more professional capacity."

From watching The Vaccines perform live you do get a sense that they are all thoroughly enjoying themselves. Cheeky smirks, sly shoulder bumps and Justin's often enhancement of a random lyric or two.

"That is why you start a band! We've worked very hard to get our songs to a point at which we really love them ourselves. We like writing songs that are fun to play and because they are all so direct and simple we are able to have fun with them. Essentially you start a band to be with your friends and play gigs and make music you like. And that is what we are doing."

"I'd rather people liked or disliked us rather than worried about whether we're the best band ever or not" - Justin Hayward-Young, The Vaccines 


The band have drawn comparisons to the likes of the Beach Boys, Jesus Mary Chain and The Ramones to name but a few. But more to the point, they are putting their influences out there for others to see via the bands website and also through their Facebook page, as Justin explains....

"The Facebook page is a great place for us to share what influences us with other people. None of us listen to much contemporary music but in terms of inspiration, I think our music sounds like music made by four young men. We're inspired by the things we see and do and the people around us. Our songs are about lost love, anger, resentment, anxiety and some more positive emotions. It's good to vent emotion through music and art!"

As you'll probably be aware (or not), the interest around the band has increased massively since August. But Justin reiterates a point made when speaking to Drowned In Sound a couple of weeks back. That THEY haven't created anything, they've merely put out three cracking singles and played a handful of gigs. No attitude, no hoards of 'limited edition' whatever or even a celebrity girlfriend (Freddie's brother being in The Horrors is about as close as you'll get). Nothing.

(JHY) "I'd ask to be judged as any other band is judged. We all loved our songs before we got validation from anyone else and we know we're a good band. We've worked very hard to create music we would listen to. Not everyone is going to like us but no band is liked by everyone. I'd rather people liked or disliked us rather than worried about whether we're the best band ever or not. As soon as someone makes a grandiose claim about a band, there is pressure on them to be more than they ever planned to be. And, people are inclined to dislike them too. It's also self fulfilling. By you asking this question, anyone who hadn't heard of us will now assume we're a hype band. It's a shame people are force fed hyperboles about us but, equally, we're grateful for the support we are receiving.

(cont) "It's important to remember that 'hype' bands don't generate hype, other people do. And that nearly always results from people genuinely loving the music. And, we genuinely love it and are genuinely having fun."

( 'All In White' and 'Norgarrd' were shot on tour at Stereo, York by friend of the band - and not to mention ex Libertines snapper - Roger Sargent )

And Justin's schedule for the band in 2011? Simple...

(JHY) "Hopefully we can stay busy. We just want to tour tour tour and play to as many people as possible. We're 3/4 of the way towards finishing the album which we're very happy with. I want to start writing the next one now!"