The best perk of running A Music Blog, Yea? is that although it’s my job as the owner to write about music, it’s also my passion as a fan. As far as running AMBY goes, interviewing The Vaccines is one of our biggest accomplishments and honours. We adore the band for their spontaneity, clever songwriting, and how they consistently give their fans every ounce of energy they have while on stage. I had the phenomenal opportunity of speaking with The Vaccines’ vocalist Justin Young over the phone, so dig into our conversation as we spoke about band members falling on stage, the Melody Calling EP, his favourite Vaccines songs, burgers, the best part of being in The Vaccines, and much more.
AMBY: Before we start this interview, I just wanted to say thanks for being so cool and humble back then [when we did our two question interview in Toronto], and for taking the time now. We’re huge fans and appreciate it.
The Vaccines: Of course, thanks.
AMBY: Alright, so let’s get to the questions.
The Vaccines: Of course, let’s do it!
AMBY: What’s the band been up to lately?
The Vaccines: We have been doing festivals recently this summer, sort of playing European Festivals, and then Lollapalooza and a few other shows. But mainly been playing Europe and now this is the beginning of our tour with Mumford and Sons, and then we’re done for a few months really.
AMBY: Alright. Well, now to the music! I wanted to say that your two albums are almost like greatest hits records—every single song is solid. But which songs would you say are the quintessential Vaccines?
The Vaccines: I suppose as a band you’d kind of want to be judged by your most recent material so you’d feel as if you are getting better and better all of the time and getting closer to what you’ve always been set out to do. So I think that for me, the newer the material, the more I enjoy the songs. I mean, we just released a new EP and I really like the stuff on that. It’s really hard for me to sort of object and choose something, but I’ve often thought if we could play someone one song, what would I play? And I suppose it would be the latest song, really.
AMBY: Okay, and there we were talking about your other two records. But Melody Calling has given the band a new EP, a new single, and a new video. And we found that you have chosen such a different path musically with the song, compared to What Did You Expect From The Vaccines and Come of Age. So what was the drive or inspiration to change things up a little?
The Vaccines: I suppose it’s just as with anything, we don’t want to do the same thing over and over. If you’re an artist, you don’t want to paint the same picture every day. And I don’t think that we really wanted to continue to churn out the same music year after year. When we went into the studio, in the past we’ve always gone in with a backbone already in place, and this time we went in with no real kind of arrangement and it just freed us up to kind of, I guess, build around the song and make a slightly more dimensional sound and be a little truer to the songs really.
AMBY: Great, and speaking of Melody Calling, the video is great. Which film clip from The Vaccines is your favourite?
The Vaccines: Good question. I was thinking about that this morning and I really am happy with the Melody Calling video. I really like the band in that video and I like the I Always Knew and the Tiger Blood video as well. There’s a few.
AMBY: They’re all pretty good [laughs]. So, now we have some touring questions. We know that the band is now touring with Mumford and Sons, but who are some of your favourite bands that you’ve toured with over the years?
The Vaccines: Well, we’ve been lucky. We’ve got to play with some bands we’ve loved, and it’s amazing. I mean, just in musical terms it’s very exciting for us to be able to play with The Walkmen, play with The Arctic Monkeys, they toured with us a lot…
The Vaccines: I can’t even really think right now [laughs], we’ve toured with so many people over the last few years.
AMBY: And earlier you mentioned that the band have been playing quite a few festivals and shows over the summer. What are the best and worst parts of touring for you?
The Vaccines: The best parts are the variety and never really knowing what you’re getting, and going to new places every day, and meeting new people, and you know? Experiencing so much. We’ve seen the world now and I feel so lucky for that. What makes it so hard is that you’re away from your friends and your family and the uncertainty of never really knowing where there is a show, or where you will be sleeping that night, and I think that being in a touring van comes with amazing fans, yet some hard times. But I don’t think any of us would change it.
AMBY: You mentioned how you’re always non-stop touring and going to different spots. Do you have a particular favourite city in the world to play?
The Vaccines: That’s a good question. South America is pretty amazing and Asia, the crowds are pretty crazy. It’s really fun, and just being in those places is so exciting. But I suppose that nothing really beats playing in our hometown, so London is pretty cool as well.
AMBY: Alright, and now I just wanted to say that I’ve had the opportunity of seeing the band twice now in Toronto. I can easily say it’s the most energetic show I’ve ever seen.
The Vaccines: Thanks.
AMBY: How do you keep the energy so high for each concert?
The Vaccines: I guess it’s knowing you’ve come so far and the desire to put so much— You feel like you’re letting other people down, and yourself down. You travel half way around the world and if you don’t give it everything you’ve got, there’s no reason. You don’t really do much else throughout the day, so you can kind of conserve your energy for that. It’s really invigorating playing to people who seem really passionate about what you’re doing. A lot of the songs are old now, but people really like them so you kind of want to give everyone every ounce of energy that you have.
AMBY: Each time I’ve seen the band, you can tell it gets more and more energetic and you’re more into the songs, which overall makes for a crazier live performance. Do you have a favourite song to play live?
The Vaccines: It’s hard, I love playing Wetsuit and If You Wanna but I like playing Bad Mood. And again, the newer stuff is quite a progression so it’s been nice to play the stuff from the Melody Calling EP. It changes really, you know? You never really knew where in the world you’ll be put, and people respond to different songs in different ways in different places.
AMBY: Well, I have one last touring question for you. The last time we spoke in Toronto, you told us that your favourite food to eat was burgers while on the road.
The Vaccines: Yes.
AMBY: So what’s been the best burger you’ve had while touring?
The Vaccines: That’s a good question.
AMBY: Thank you [laughs].
The Vaccines: A terrific question. I can’t remember. I’m trying to think, trying to think… We have eaten a lot [laughs]. But I mean, American and North America has pretty good burgers. So I imagine that for the next few weeks I’ll be eating quite a few.
AMBY: Alright! And we’ve been speaking about The Vaccines’ music, but we’re curious who would be in your ultimate concert line-up?
The Vaccines: Well, we recently supported The Rolling Stones. And to me, they are the greatest rock and roll band of all time. That would probably require—I’ve never really thought about that. It would be pretty good to have The Rolling Stones and The Beatles playing.
AMBY: Speaking of playing with The Stones, what would be your proudest achievement to date? Because that’s pretty massive, obviously.
The Vaccines: I think opening for them, and the record going to number one in our home country was pretty amazing. Just looking back, I can’t believe what we’ve achieved and experienced.
AMBY: And The Vaccines have a huge fan-base in the UK, and we also love your music here in North America. So we’re wondering how would you compare British audiences to North American ones?
The Vaccines: Well, at the moment they’re bigger [laughs]. It’s difficult to generalize because everywhere you go, people are different and you never really know what to expect. I think people are harder to please in America and it makes you want to work harder, really.
AMBY: And now we’re just curious, has there ever been a song you wish you wrote? And if so, which song?
The Vaccines: Oh yea, I mean hundreds. Every song I listen to that I like, I wish I’d written it.
AMBY: The band looks like you have a lot of fun on stage, so what’s the funniest thing to happen to you at a gig?
The Vaccines: I mean, Árni fell over on stage and he couldn’t play a couple of shows with us. And then he came back having been away for a few days. And we were supporting Red Hot Chili Peppers in Europe to about 60, 000 people who were watching us. And we started playing No Hope, and I look around because I couldn’t hear Árni playing, and he’s just lying on the floor [laughs], face down. Because he had walked on stage and just tripped down and fallen over, so that was pretty funny. But probably not for Árni but it was for me.
AMBY: When you look back at those things they always tend to be funnier than when it happened.
The Vaccines: Yea, definitely.
AMBY: We were earlier talking about your fan-base. We know that they are extremely loyal to the band, so is there anything that you’d like to say to them?
The Vaccines: I mean, aside from thank you [laughs] not really.
AMBY: [laughs] Alright. Well, now we have the last question of the interview. What’s something about The Vaccines that nobody knows yet?
The Vaccines: Maybe I don’t even know that one.
AMBY: The alternative we have then is what’s the best part of being in The Vaccines?
The Vaccines: Getting to make music together, every day, that’s pretty cool.