Interview: The Vaccines


 Hey guys!

With the blog growing every day a little more, the variety of acts I get to work with grows as well.
It was during my two weeks of time off when I got an email from Sony Music Germany asking if I was interested in interviewing The Vaccines.

And well, I was interested. So one morning I sat down and got a call from the band's bassist.

The Vaccines are a four piece band from London, England.
Their sound varies but could be classified as indie pop with bits of alternative rock.

The band formed in 2010 and has been making music ever since and quickly got the attention of many music lovers.

The Vaccines are:
Justin Young (lead vocals, guitar)
Freddie Cowan (guitar)
Árni Árnason (bass)
Pete Robertson (drums)

- "What Did You Expect From The Vaccines" (2011)
- "Come Of Age" (2012)
- "English Graffiti" (2015)

Learn more about the band now, as bassist Arni chats us through the recording process of their latest album, his perfect festival bill, making hiphop beats and a love for Taylor Swift.

house in the sand: Hi Arni, it's Vanessa from the music blog house in the sand.

Arni (The Vaccines): Hey, how are you doing?

house in the sand: I'm great, thanks! How are you?

Arni: I'm good, thank you.

HITS: Is it okay for you if we just dive into the interview?

Arni: Yes, of course!

HITS: So you are about to release your new album. Can you tell us a bit about the recording process? How long did it take you to write and record?

Arni: We started writing pretty late 2013, early 2014, but we wrote a lot of stuff that didn't end up on the album. We kind of allowed ourselves to get into it, we went to little houses in the countryside of the UK and sat down and just played music for days and days. And a lot of that process got us to where we ended.
But when we started recording in June 2014 and I think during that session we realised what sound we're after and what we need to do to make this happen. And a lot of music that we wrote for the album actually came out of that session. So in terms of writing actual material it was June until December 2014.
But the process before that was equally important and allowed us to get rid off a lot of shackles we had.

HITS: Yeah, I think sometimes it's good to get things out first, to then concentrate on new things.
Would you also say there are a lot of differences between your new and old material? 

Arni: Yeah, absolutely! I think our new single "Handsome" is quite misleading because it does sound like a classic The Vaccines track but equally I think it gives away a lot of the new production techniques.. With the first album we had a different production, we allowed ourselves to use the studio just like a vehicle. 
 We've always been a quite direct band in terms of writing pop songs and I think that's still the case but the way we arrange them with the sounds we're making now is something we haven't done before.

HITS: I've heard a lot of bands saying trying out new stuff is a bit like leaving your comfort zone. Do you agree with that statement? 

Arni: Yeah, maybe not. I don't know. I think comfort is the worst enemy of creativity. I don't think anyone should have or be in a comfort zone and I don't think we've ever done that.
I really don't think we've ever done that.
Even though with the first and the second record, they both sound like they're from the same band but we've done them completely differently. And with that we're comfortable.

HITS: For you as a bassist, do you remember a key moment where you just felt like "yeah, I really want to do this?", the moment you got into music maybe?

Arni: Oh yeah, absolutely! When I was really young I was the only person who knew how to use a software where you can get beats on. And I used to make beats for the local rappers when I was a teenager.
At some point they had a bass in the shops and I bought that for 50 quid or something and a week later I was on stage playing Nirvana covers and instantly stopped making hiphop beats because playing the bass was what I wanted to do and it was the most fun I've ever had.

HITS: That's really cool and it also shows that you are into a lot of different genres.

Arni: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely! I think the four of us are all massive music fans.

HITS: Would you say there are any musicians you've learned from just by analyzing their way of playing? 

Arni: Yes, absolutely. Not necessarly in terms of playing but I think I've learned from the person, like the people you run into. We've been very lucky to share stages with lots of people that are incredibly inspiring.
So yeah, I think I've learned a very good leason from a lot of those people but none of them ever told me anything. It just happened by looking at it and witnessing what's going on.

HITS: Speaking about bigger acts, it also means you've been on a lot of big stages. You're playing quite a few festivals this year. Is there a song of the new record you look forward to playing live the most?

Arni: Yeah, we're playing a lot of new stuff lately and it's stuff that people haven't heard before and it's been going down very well. I think we're quite excited about playing lots of new stuff.
There's a song called "Dream Lover" which I think is the biggest thing of a very ambitious record we've recorded. And I'm looking forward to seeing how it's going to go down at festivals.

HITS: I guess festivals are also really exciting because some of the people at festivals might not be there to see you. What do you prefer - big festivals like that or intimate venues where people come to just see you?

Arni: It's a very different experience each time. When it's a venue where people come to see you it sort of feels like a celebration because everybody's there for the same reason.
And you are right saying that at festivals you're not necessarly playing for people who want to see you, they might not even know you. And that comes with a challenge and I think we've always really enjoyed convincing people and so far it's always been a lot of fun.
Both are really different things so it's difficult to compare them, so I don't think I can choose really.
But I love both, we've just finished our UK tour last week and it was amazing, but now we're really looking forward to the festivals.

HITS: If you were to put together a festival lineup - who would be on the bill?

Arni: Ermmmm, wow, okay! This is actually an interesting question because over the last four years I've probably been to 120 festivals. And I thought last Summer I had given up and didn't like festivals anymore. And then a friend of mine said "oh come with me, I'm going to this festival called 'End Of The Road'" and I went with him and I had the best weekend of my life. I was really surprised. 
That lineup was pretty much the best.
So for my festival, let's say The Flaming Lips because they're just the best live band in the world. The Gene Clark No Other Band experience, it's basically Gene Clark with lots of musicians playing, it was incredible. White Demin was amazing, so I would have them. tUnE-yArDs are fantastic. I would have a new band called Horror. And a band 999 who are a crazy LA punk hiphop band. 
And I think that's my favourite band bill.

HITS: Sounds amazing! Do you have a guilty pleasure song which is maybe a bit embarrassing?

Arni: I don't really find my music taste particularly embarrassing, I listen to everything. I love Taylor Swift but I'm not embarrassed. I'm really not embarrassed, haha.

HITS: There's no need to be, I just meant those songs where people might give you weird looks when you start jamming to them.

Arni: Yeahhhh, that's true. I'm just going through my playlists to find something.

HITS: It's cool, it's perfectly fine.
To finish this off, which is the first song you'd like someone to hear, who's not familiar with your sound? What do you think - which is the song that really sums up what your band sounds like?

Arni: Currently I'd say "Dream Lover".

HITS: Alright, lovely. That's a great way to end this interview, so thank you so much for taking the time to speak to house in the sand.

Arni: It's my pleasure, thank you!

Many thanks to Arni for answering the questions and the lovely people at Sony for organising the interview.

The Vaccines online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube

Thank you for reading!

Credits // Text & questions: Vanessa Jertschewske | Image: The Vaccines Facebook | Answers: Arni from The Vaccines


  1. WOW you have really come far with this blog! This was an awesome interview to read. I must check out the new Vaccines record, I've always loved them, but didn't get around to listening to the album yet.

    1. Jana, thank you so much for your comment! I am so happy about opportunities like this and when I see positive reactions like yours - I honestly feel so so lucky. I love their new record so I'm looking forward to hearing what you think. :)


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