‘I spent a lot more time dancing with a hairbrush’ – Justin Young of The Vaccines in conversation | Gigwise

‘If You Wanna’ was written about one person, but over the years I’ve taken to the stage thinking about various people ‘

“’If You Wanna’ was written about a person,” says Justin Young of the ten-year-old song that is still The Vaccines’ greatest. “But,” he adds, “over the years I have taken to the stage thinking of various people. [when singing it]. ”

A lot of The Vaccines songs are songs of desire and love, but ten years is a long time and Justin Young hasn’t had just one partner since the band started in the 2010s. “The Reason that a song speaks to hundreds, thousands, or millions of people for is because they’re almost like those empty emotional vessels filling up, ”he says. Even for the songwriter himself, tracks like ‘If You Wanna’, ‘Want You So Bad’, ‘I Always Knew’, ‘Your Love Is My Favorite Band’ and, with their latest album Back In Love City, ‘Headphones Baby’, can mean anything you want.

Love, of course, is in the very title of the band’s fifth album, which completed a solid five-out of five streak reaching the Top Five on the UK charts last week. In it, thirteen new tracks join a discography of emotional vessels that fans have been filling for a decade. This time around, The Vaccines paints a candy-colored backdrop to cast their shadows on, delivering an adventurous, spaghetti-western record that takes them back to the heady youthful genre of their debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

“We felt rejuvenated, inspired and excited,” said Justin of the Back In Love City recording prep, “We were ready to come in and capture some of that positivity.” As a result of the “wrestling” that led to the creation of Combat Sports in 2018, The Vaccines finally came up with something they were “really happy with” and quickly embarked on a two-year tour. “We really fell in love with the tour and with each other again,” Justin said of that space between combat sports and now, “We fell in love with being a band again. Every day was like an adventure ”.

Back In Love City is the natural end of this rejuvenated love. The natural, futuristic, exciting, high-end in sugar. “I imagine somehow [Love City] look and feel a bit like Tokyo, ”Justin muses,“ and be somewhere like Vegas or Tijuana: a mega-metropolis in the desert ”.

Early on, when What Did You Expect From The Vaccines ?, which itself turned out as a fantastically dramatic night in Manchester or London, propelled the band into the limelight, things got a little more Scunthorpe for some time. “The reality of being in The Vaccines suddenly struck and with it anxiety and fear and, strangely, anger and resentment. Much of our mental state was driven by fear and anxiety, ”Justin tells me. “Once the eyes of the world started to look at us, we weren’t sure how to handle it. All of a sudden it all started to feel pretty real.

“If you’ve only been in a band for six months and you read even a comment under a YouTube video: ‘This band won’t be anywhere in 6 months’… that’s crap. We let much of this fear dictate a much more important part of our life and creativity than it should have. “

Thankfully, albums released in the years following that initial uncertainty proved all the villains wrong: Come Of Age (2012), English Graffiti (2015), Combat Sports (2018), and Back In Love City (2021) all ranked. in the Top five in the UK. All statistical winners, some of these albums were received more warmly in the hearts of the population than others: English Graffiti, I would point out, is rarely cited as a favorite, although it was a solid release. – in its dark and elegant varnish, arguably one of their best.

“We had really big aspirations for English Graffiti and we were definitely disappointed at the time that it wasn’t a bigger record,” agrees Justin, “but I think something I still try to remember is that good music does not last. the length of the release week. It outlasts the people who make it; good music lasts forever. “He thought for a moment, before continuing,” We exist at a time. times when what we do is slightly out of step with the tastes of not only the mainstream but also the counterculture. I am confident that in 20, 30, 40, 50 years, people will still discover different songs on these records. and be like “Wow, this is crazy! I can’t believe this wasn’t a bigger song!” “.

There are a lot of songs in The Vaccines’ tenure that this absolutely could happen: Justin’s production as a lyricist and melody maker is pretty extraordinary. There is no leap in his band’s entire catalog, and creative juices continue to need additional receptacles to flow through them. Even when Justin drives, he thinks about words and ideas. “I was in Cornwall with Tim and Johan this weekend. I was driving and every two minutes I was like, ‘Johan, can you write this on my phone for me?’ One can only assume that Johan is used to it: “I am really obsessed with any idea. If you were someone who wanted to go to the beach and look for fossils, you wouldn’t walk past if you found one, would you? That’s how I feel about the lyrics when they come to me. I am very obsessed with the idea of ​​writing them ”.

While the rhythms, lyrics and ideas are repeated throughout these albums – as every individual is required to do – Justin and The Vaccines always come up with a distinctive character for each song and the albums that contain them. “But,” he adds, “I really think a lot of the themes and ideas that I’m exploring lyrically on this album aren’t new. Even though you change a lot over many years, it’s fun. the kind of meanings and ideas you’re constantly drawn to. ‘Paranormal Romance’ for example, may remind fans of Come Of Age’s single ‘Teenage Icon’ by its rhythmic comparison of what Justin is and what ‘He would like to be. Back In Love City’s main title, “Headphones Baby,” meanwhile, recalls the metaphors explored in the Combat Sports title “Your Love Is My Favorite Song.” “You talk about English graffiti,” adds Justin: “It was a really bad connection and bad connection record, just like Back in Love City.”

Connections to the past, to the future, between old memories and new romances, The Vaccines not only is content to be one of our best live bands, but also forges a confident path to become one of our hit machines. the most reliable. If you’ve ever danced in your bedroom performing a song from Vaccines in the mirror, maybe using a hairbrush as a microphone, maybe turning up the music a little too loud a little too late, then know that, to the Alone Star ‘: you are not alone. Many of us have done it. Justin Young did it himself, but not for The Vaccines songs of course.

As a teenager, it was grunge (“Nirvana changed my life”), tracks from The OC soundtrack and second-gen emo that got him playing home alone. “When I was a teenager and listened to music in my bedroom, I didn’t spend a lot of time learning the guitar. I spent a lot more time dancing with a hairbrush basically, ”he says. “There is an incredible catharsis [in it] for me… .letting go and being transported to a whole different place. To be made to feel something different, to find that euphoria and that sadness, to let go completely in a way that you cannot in any other way of life ”.

Now armed with many of his own songs, songs he can sing into a real microphone in front of thousands of people, Justin feels “incredibly lucky” to be able to continue performing live. As new generations grow old enough to fill the emotional vessels that are The Vaccines songs, an ever-growing legion of music fans are waiting for more records and filling theaters across the country. With songs like these, the possibilities are endless.

See the vaccines live:


14 – Manchester, warehouse O2 Victoria
16 – Leeds, O2 Academy Leeds
18 – Portsmouth, Portsmouth Guild
19 – Birmingham, O2 Academy
21 – London, SSE Arena Wembley
23 – Newcastle, O2 Town Hall
24 – Glasgow, Barrowland Ballroom

Back In Love City is now available.

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