The Vaccines were propelled into the spotlight in 2011 with the release of their debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?, becoming what so many struggle to do: become a successful guitar band.
Now, back in 2012 with a big new album and some big aspirations for their second bout on the music scene, we spoke with frontman Justin Young about new album The Vaccines Come Of Age, why his band has succeeded when so few others do, why he considers Twitter a 'bitter and hateful place' and parrallels between The Vaccines and Rihanna...
You rose to success very quickly and your story is the dream for guitar bands. What's the key to scoring success in today's music scene?
We're an ambitious band, and we see ourselves as a pop band as well, or a rock and roll band with pop aspirations. We feel like we have great songs, but not only that, great pop songs that make sense on a Radio One playlist or on Top Of The Pops. That's what we are and that's what we always wanted to be. There are thousands of guitar bands that you might subjectively say we successful. I think that blog culture has changed people's vision, because bands no longer want to be on the cover of the NME or headlining Reading and Leeds - they want an 8+ review on Pitchfork. There's a snobbery now, and people are scared to be successful and we're not - we want to be a big band and we want to mean a lot to a lot of people.
A lot is made of that 'difficult second album. How was it for you recording The Vaccines Come Of Age?
It was pretty easy really. I think if that hadn't been the case we probably wouldn't be releasing it. We found we had more time to write than before we were in a band full-time because then, we were trying to find the time to write. It got to November time in 2011 and we realised we had a set of songs that were considerably better than our first ones, so we decided that we should make a record. There's a deeper connection in the band, we're playing better so actually the whole process is better. It wasn't difficult at all.
Watch The Vaccines 'No Hope'
The singles sound a little rougher than what we heard on the first album. Is this representative of the sound on the album?
Not really actually. It's quite a diverse record. In terms of the harder side, that is representative. We've been playing together every night for two years and although we made the first record live, we wanted to go in and make this record completely live so the ad-lib vocals were a result of me playing in room with the guys, we slowed down, made mistakes and it really helped the record come to life. There's one song we got in the first take, so it's all very real. Stylistically it's quite a diverse record and because it was written over a year there are songs like 'Teenage Icon' that are quite close to the first album and then there are song like 'Aftershave Ocean', a song we wrote earlier this year and it's really different.
It's been a fast turn-around on albums. It's only you and Rihanna who can release records so quickly.
And Rihanna has people writing for her! Its a shame really, we live in a world where - it's not that people aren't prolific - but I think record companies have other ideas for their artists and how to release things. If i'm honest, what has happened is our label have seen sense in it, and for us as artists we feel lucky that we have been able to release a record when we felt ready for it. If you look back to the sixties and seventies, people were releasing a record a year and I think it's really important to us, that as soon as we feel we are better than our last effort, then we need to be able to show people that. From our point of view, we want to make music all the time. We've had stand-alone singles and EPs, done a live record - and as soon as this interview finishes we're going to record another EP, I just like the idea of constantly making music. I don't have anything else to do.
Is the new album a more mature record - or does the title suggest The Vaccines are simply hitting their stride?
It's quite a tongue in cheek album title. I don't think it's a more mature record, we're slightly older though. The title is taken from lyrics of the first single 'Ho Hope'. The Come Of Age bit is a bit tongue in cheek, it's hard to sum up the album lyrically. I found my twenties a weird and confusing place to be, I think lyrically there's a lot of that on the record. I think it's a more complete and knowing record. It's a more confident record because we know who we are, but it has no connection with the album title.
You're a little bit older - and a little bit hairier. Does it reflect the growing up of The Vaccines?
I think it just reflects not having had a haircut and being on tour. People have been asking a lot about the beards and longer hair in the band.
Watch: The Vaccines 'Teenage Icon'
You've been supporting Red Hot Chili Peppers across Europe this summer. How is it supporting a band that huge?
It's going well. It's weird. It's the first time we've played in stadiums. I find that every time I go into venues that are bigger, you have to alter the way you do things. You have to play to someone who's half a mile away.
Has playing in venues that size grown your aspirations?
Not really. Commercial aspirations have never been the primary things. Watching how people respond and on the level they do respond to Red Hot Chili Peppers is pretty inspiring. You pick up a guitar in the first place because you want to be a rock star, and it would be pretty awesome to headline stadiums but it hasn't made me want it any more, just because it feels so far away.
The Vaccines haven't escaped criticism. Do blogs and Twitter give people a voice - and a sense of entitlement to say what they want?
It's faceless, so it's easy. Most of these people wouldn't say it to your face - well, some would. It's weird because they feel so powerful and that they represent a collective view. I could start a music blog and give an opinion on a record, people would Google my blog and mistake mine for a collective view. It's a strange world. On the one hand it's great and important that people share their opinions, but I do think it's being used in a negative way at times. I actually think Twitter can be a hateful and bitter place, it is so faceless and nameless. It's modern day prank calling. It's like being given a phone number 20 years ago for a celebrity. I find it all very strange. Gone are the days where you can celebrate or ignore something.
Are you a Twitter user yourself?
No. I ran the band's one for a while but I wasn't very good at it. I always felt pressure to be funny or interesting and it feels like a game I didn't want to play. I've got more important things to do. I had it on my phone and I would alway check it. That was just stupid.
Thank you very much, non-tweeting Justin of The Vaccines. The Vaccines release The Vaccines Come Of Age on 3 September, 2012.