Re-Vamped: The Vamps At 10

The British pop band revisit their past as they look toward the future...

For over a decade, James Brittain-McVey, Bradley Simpson, Tristan Evans, and Connor Ball have been The Vamps. In those ten-plus years, the British pop-rock band has released five albums, had numerous hits, and sold out countless venues around the world. In September, however, they are going back to their roots. 

A few weeks ago, their ‘Meet The Vamps’ anniversary tour was announced on social media. The month-long array of shows across the United Kingdom is set to be a celebration of their debut album- a collection of catchy, high-energy tracks that charted in multiple countries upon release, is certified platinum in the UK, and to which longtime fans seem to return again and again. The concert will feature a play-through of ‘Meet The Vamps’ original fifteen songs as well as a few other fan favorites. Judging by the fact the original tour dates sold out in less than an hour, it won’t be a set to miss. 

But, if nostalgia isn’t your style, don’t worry, the band has got you covered. On June 7th, they released ‘Somebody To You (ReVamped). A re-recorded, reimagined version of their 2013 hit that featured Demi Lovato. ReVamped by musicians who are now ten years older, the song relies less on upbeat stylings and bubblegum-style hooks. It’s a cutback, banjo-heavy version that brings the lyrics into the light, a rendition of the track that helped launch them into global fame that better represents who they are now. And while nothing has been concretely announced, it seems likely more re-recordings are to follow. 

CLASH spoke with The Vamps after the announcement of their upcoming tour. Chatting about hitting the road again, revisiting their debut album, giving new life to one of their most popular songs, and more. Tap in below to see what the band had to say…

First and foremost, the reason we are here, you’re going back on tour in the Fall. This tour is different from your Greatest Hits tours in that it’s local to the UK and has some more intimate venues. How will the pre-show prep- mentally, physically, emotionally– change, if it does at all for this run?

Tristan: The Greatest Hits tour was more about celebrating 10 years of us being together, but this upcoming tour is specifically about one album. We’ve never done that before. We’ve never played the deluxe songs at all, really. It’ll be fun for us. It’ll be fun for the fans. I’m looking forward to celebrating the first album because it meant a lot to us. It meant a lot to people. It’s very very exciting.

I love the album playthrough show. I think they’re really fun and really special for fans who like a certain album a lot. To get to hear all the songs is not something that happens often. Are there any in particular that you are excited about, or on the flip side, nervous about?

James: I’m excited about ‘She Was The One.’

Bradley: We played Royal Albert Hall a year ago and ‘She Was The One’ was on the set list there. We’d already started to talk about revisiting this album by then, but that reaffirmed that it’s going to be a really exciting time because that’s a song that we haven’t played live in a long time. Everyone in the room was so excited when we started playing. I think that it’s going to be like that for a lot of songs will be cool. Golden was always one of my favorites on the first album, so I’m looking forward to that.

Connor: I’m excited for songs like ‘Smile.’ Like we recorded that song and then never played it. It’s going to be cool to play songs like that.

What has it been like, or if rehearsals haven’t started, what do you anticipate it being like revisiting these songs that you wrote ten years ago as the people you are now?

Bradley: Every album is like a chapter in our lives in a way. You write it, record it, release it, tour it, and then move on to the next album. At least, that’s how we’ve done it across the five albums that we’ve released. So to really step back into a chapter that’s felt closed for a long time, to really step back into that moment in our lives. I think it’s going to be fun. It’s a nice time for us to reminisce because around every song from the creation of it to the touring of it, there are so many stories. I think getting ready for this tour is constantly going to be us saying, “Do you remember this? Do you remember that?” Then, that’ll feed into the live shows. I think there are a lot of stories that we haven’t shared around that album and it’s a good moment to look back on it and tell the fans about the creation of it.

Alongside the on-sale, you have the release of ‘Somebody To You (ReVamped).’ How does this release compare to releasing something totally new? 

Tristan: The cool thing about this revamp is we took what we like to do live with the song after playing it for the last eight to ten years and created more polished versions. It’s really about what the fans have given to us and how they most enjoy the song. We took that to the studio and tried to replicate that energy with an old song. That’s why it was so fun. The song was written, but how can we make it sound new? Or how can we make it sound interesting without trying to rip off the original?

Well, for what it’s worth, I love it. Yes, there’s some built-in nostalgia there, but on its own, I think this new version is fantastic. Re-recordings are something that has become more and more mainstream in the past few years, due in large part to Taylor Swift. For her, the end goal has always been to create albums that sound the same, but that obviously isn’t what you’ve chosen to focus on. Besides the fans, what made you decide to approach the song this way?

Bradley: Like I said, each of our albums is a moment in time for us. We look back and we’re still so proud of them. We’re so proud of the recordings and the songwriting. Like Tris was saying, we didn’t want to do a one-to-one re-recording of the original. We wanted to show how we’ve grown up as singers and musicians and give our current take on it. We’d hate for them to almost feel like they should compete with each other.

Speaking of competing with each other, we’ve also seen a rise in re-releases with features falling very soon after their original counterparts (i.e. Noah Kahan). If you were hypothetically going to do something along those lines who would you pick and which songs?

Connor: ‘If All Night’ was done in a rock way, I’d like to have You Me At Six on it. They’re breaking up, so they can do that with us before they go their separate ways.

Bradley: That’d be great. I’d like to revisit some of the original features, especially on the songs from 10 years ago. It’d be fun to hear the difference.

While this tour and this song are very much for the original fans, there is still obvious potential to expand your audience with this release. Did you think about that at all when you were recording?

Tristan: Once we were in the studio, we felt a big country vibe. Morgan Wallen, Post Malone. Those country songs are making waves in the UK and Europe. We always had that in mind. There was that edge to it. These guys are awesome guitars. So, we were able to switch an electric guitar for a banjo and all of a sudden the song had a different sound. It was very experimental. I loved working on this project because it was so natural. It was sort of just picking up an instrument and seeing what worked.

Country is definitely having a moment everywhere right now. It’s crazy to like to see it just keep growing and growing.

Tristan: I know it’s big in America, but this is actually the first time country music has gotten big in the UK and London. It’s so interesting. 

It’s crazy. I don’t know what changed, something just kind of snapped. Actually, I think it was Beyonce. But who knows? Since there is now this updated version of Somebody To You-which will make it to the stage? What can fans expect from this upcoming tour?

James: We’re not entirely sure whether we’ll do the new interpreted version, but I think we probably will because it makes sense to do the songs in a way that feels right to right now. Since we’ve also got some songs that we’ve literally never played before I imagine when we’re rehearsing we’ll have a conversation as to how, if at all, we want to modify the original recordings. I imagine there will need to be some slight key changes. Some of the songs are quite high. [laughter] We’ll see. It’s always quite a nice feeling, at least for me anyway, before every tour, when I’ve got no idea how the set is going to sound. Because it always just sort of happens over a few weeks. It takes you on a ride. It’s quite a nice position to be in now where it could go a few different ways. It’s quite exciting.

Finally, what album would you want to hear played live from top to bottom?

Tristan: I would either want to hear ‘American Idiot’ by Green Day or ‘Enema of the State’ by Blink-182.

Connor: I didn’t know ‘American Idiot’ was a concept album.

Tristan: Like ‘The Black Parade’?

Connor: Yeah. And that’s what I was going to say, ‘The Black Parade’ by My Chemical Romance. 

Bradley: I’d go with ‘AM’ by Arctic Monkeys.

James: ‘Red’ by Taylor Swift.

Catch The Vamps on tour this September:

7 York Barbican
8 Newcastle O2 City Hall
10 Glasgow O2 Academy
11 Glasgow O2 Academy
12 Leeds O2 Academy
14 Birmingham O2 Academy 
15 Birmingham O2 Academy
17 Bristol O2 Academy
18 Bournemouth O2 Academy  
21 London eventim Apollo
24 Manchester O2 Apollo
25 Manchester O2 Apollo
27 Manchester Academy 1
29 Birmingham O2 Academy

Words: Sydney Bolen

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