‘The Vaccines Come Of Age’…well, that sounds even cockier than ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ So what is behind the new album title? Is it pomposity? Is it honesty? Or is it just one of Justin’s lyrical concoctions designed to fool us?
A line as boisterous as this would suggest further ideals of grandeur, but the efforts that have been put forth so far (‘No Hope, ‘Teenage Icon’) have been very modest and at times condescending with their words (‘Teenage Icon’ – ‘I’m not magnetic or mythical/I’m suburban and typical’). Lead guitarist Freddie Cowan speaks to Clash to put things straight about the new record, the old record and that timeless and recycled headline that is thrust upon 21st Century rock bands – is guitar music in danger?
The title ‘Come Of Age’ suggests progression. Do you think you’ve moved on since the last record then?
First of all, I loved the first album we made, it was the perfect record for us at that time. We did the best we could at that point. There’s not a bad song on it and has all the marks of a great record. ‘The Vaccines Come Of Age’ is a reference to the lyric in ‘No Hope’, which is it’s hard to come of age. We’re not suggesting we’ve done our ‘Sgt Peppers’, it’s a much more isn’t it weird to be in this position. It’s a nod to the times that people feel like you go through all your growing difficulties in your adolescence, but actually there’s a lot of life questioning, a lot of things that question where you’re at when you’re in your twenties. We’re not saying we’ve progressed, although I think we have, but we’re not making that statement in that title.
At a show recently you didn’t play ‘Post Break-Up Sex’…
We didn’t even realise that we didn’t play it until after the gig. There’s no particular reason that we didn’t play it, we love that song, it’s just not one of the best live song. It’s very linear. It kind of trods along. We will be playing it this summer, though.
Your first record was completed very quickly. Was it the same for this one?
It took twice as long. First record took two weeks. We went to Belgium for two weeks and recorded the first six then went to Bath the next time for two weeks and recorded the next nine.
An argument that is always tossed around, more so recently by The Guardian due to the hip-hop/pop laden Hackney Weekend – is guitar music really in danger?
It’s always been in danger, for much longer than we think. There was Britpop and the Beatles and the Stones, but guitar music has always been the underdog. Led Zeppelin were huge but they were an underdog. There was Mickie Most who was the Simon Cowell of the ‘70s doing exactly the same thing. There just happens to be a certain emotional resonance with guitar music that means it’s there to stay. People remember guitar music, people remember guitar bands. If you look at a festival, no one is going to see Jessie J headline a festival. Festivals just prove how many people and how important rock ‘n’ roll is to people. I don’t think it’s in danger necessarily, but I do think pop music has declined to a kind of really awful point. I love pop music, but the radio I hear…it’s been degraded to such a low point where the hooks aren’t even words anymore, they’re just noises.
What’s the idea behind the girls that look like you on the new artwork?
It’s kind of a joke. With all the comments we got on the first record…if we didn’t look like rock stars, we’d get four girls who do. Our alter egos, reminds us of The Smiths.
Is there any chance of you and The Horrors working together again?
Yeah, there is. There’s a concept of all four singles, but there’s a different girl on every cover, and every member of the band has to write and record their own b-side. Well, I’m probably going to do mine with my brother (Tom Furse). I asked him to produce and he’s really up for doing it. I don’t know if we’d collaborate on stage because we’ve done it already, but it’d be nice to do a collaboration with someone. I remember watching all that Reading stuff back last year and it made our gig stand out so much more, to have someone come in. We did the same thing at T in the Park with Paul Thompson from Franz Ferdinand. It makes it more memorable.
Will you be singing on the B-side?
Maybe! I’m going to try and get away with an instrumental, but we’ll see what happens. If the other guys have to sing, I’m sure I’ll have to be made to sing.
The lyrics coming from the new songs are very honest in portraying you as just normal guys with regular imperfections…
I just think when you’re put on stage every night in front of thousands of people looking at you like you’re perfect…you kind of feel like, why are you doing that? It just makes you question it sometimes. Looking into those faces can sometimes feel like looking into a mirror. I’m guessing, I don’t write the lyrics.
So this second effort has been done quite quickly. Will it be the same for the third?
I don’t think so. I think the way we did this record was perfect. It was just the right thing not to take a break and get stuck into it because we felt on a roll, and the first time we were playing together as a band. We’ve learned how to play live…it’s hard to explain, but when you cross a certain point as a band where you learn to play together. I felt we crossed that point…I don’t know what to do now for the third record. I guess it would be nice to take a little time off, but I don’t really know. It’d be great to go do it in America, do it in a different scenery.
Words by Jamie Carson
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‘The Vaccines Come Of Age’ is set to be released on September 3rd.