When a band has been together less than two years, you would be prudent to think that their chances of selling out arenas and practically becoming a household name in that short space of time, would be pretty slim. However, this is exactly what happened to The Vaccines and although it all seems to have occurred within a blink of an eye, in theirs it’s been a gradual process. “We’re very excited and very grateful to be in this position but it has been a series of small steps,” explains drummer Pete Robertson, “We’re an ambitious band [and] we’re constantly looking for that next step.”
Rewind the clock back to March of this year and to the arrival of their debut album. Filled with 11 songs of addictive indie pop with a hint of punk, “What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?” catapulted them into the limelight and brought with it a whole lot of fame and opportunities. Jetting off here, there and everywhere, The Vaccines have had not just an extremely busy 2011 but a successful one too. Yet, whilst constantly travelling the globe and touring all over the world sounds like a very glamorous lifestyle for four young boys, Freddie Cowan says that there were some drawbacks to life on the road.
“We drove ourselves completely insane. I mean people have nervous breakdowns on tour. The reason [we did it] is because we are new band and we want to do as much as we can. As a new band you can’t afford to go somewhere, have a day off, get settled in, play…every day of touring costs you X amount, it’s a lot of people and [there are] a lot of things going on which is quite expensive,” says the guitarist, “So basically the only way we could do everything we did was by going to Japan, playing a show that night, flying to Australia, playing a show… doing ridiculous schedules…” “Which almost killed us.” Pete adds, “We said from the start we wanted to do as much as we can, so our agent was like “alright, off you go.””
Which is exactly what they did. They went off and they never stopped. From gracing the stages at their own sold out shows to supporting the Arctic Monkeys at huge gigs to playing for thousands more people at festivals such as Leeds and Reading, The Vaccines (made up of Justin Young on vocals/guitar and Arni Hjorvar on bass) have impressed both sober and pissed-up music fans everywhere they have gone in this last year, quickly becoming veterans of the live game along the way.
It’s from these live shows that much of their praise has come. Finding the winning formula to playing a 100% out of this world gig every time, is still something they say they are working on and something that, according to them, they can always improve. “Basically, you try and work out what the perfect gigs are. You sort of pin-point your favourite performances and it’s a combination of something that sometimes you can’t control like the crowd and sometimes is something as simple as your mood,” tells Pete, “…really though its when something just happens that you can’t really describe and it’s the energy it creates and once that happens you just keep trying to get it and you search for that.”
It’s this constant striving to please and excite their fans (plus the music of course), that has led to such a great surge of Vaccines followers in the last 12 months, as well as a bombardment of praising press, soaring reviews and despite only being together for a measly 18 months, they have also managed to impress some big names in the USA, with American music journalistic giants Rolling Stone already given them a hypothetical high five, by premiering the bands video for single “Tiger Blood”, on their website. For most bands, to get this sort of recognition is a mere dream and would probably incite a few adults to revert back to their childhood days and wet the bed, but not The Vaccines. “Yeah [it felt awesome],” shrugs Freddie, “but that won’t make it on the second album.”
It may sound like a dismissive thing to say about such a big accolade from a global music magazine like Rolling Stone, but in a year of large leaps and non-stop applause, this is just another notch to add to their already impressive bed-post, which also happens to have the ‘produce a song with a massive star’ tick residing alongside it. “Albert wanted to work with us and we had a couple of songs and we just though we’d go and do it,” explains Freddie of their sessions with the Strokes guitarist Albert Hammond Jr, “We didn’t really have much of an idea what it would sound like…just 2 days of intense creativity. It happened to work really nicely and we put it out as a double a side because it sounded good.”
Indeed it did, much like everything else that has come out of an instrument belonging to The Vaccines this year and there seems to be no sign of things slowing down any time soon. With talks of new material already being written for album number two and big tour commitments coming up in the next few months, it looks like 2012 will be Freddie, Justin, Pete and Arni’s year once again and deservedly so. With songs catchier than any deadly disease, amazing live presence and an instant charm warming you to them, how could The Vaccines not succeed?
Even so, there always has to be that one member of the band that succeeds a little bit more than the rest. “We came to terms with Freddie’s boyish good looks a long time ago…we can’t compete,” explains Pete, as he casually wipes away a tear from his cheek, “Actually its interesting, when we’re in different parts of the world they seem to like different ones…like in Ireland, they love Arni. The most annoying one is when you go to Sweden and they all love Justin. I haven’t found a territory yet, we’ve been all over the place and I still haven’t found anywhere that likes drummers.” One day Pete, one day.
Original article first appeared on Vibrations website on 04/01/12