Inthe midst of a jam-packed summer of touring following the huge success of their debut album ‘What Did You Expect’ we had the chance to grab a chat with The Vaccines on a rare day off. On a sunny Tuesday afternoon in the courtyard of The Strongrooms in Shoreditch we met with bassist Arni, guitarist Freddie and drummer Pete (Justin was recovering from his broken voice) to catch up on tour stories, bad habits, new material and collaborating with Albert Hammond Jr.
US: So here we are in the middle of a hugely successful year for you guys. You are back in the UK to play Reading and Leeds Festival this weekend. Are you looking forward to it?
Arni: Yeah it’s like the round up…It feels like it is the last major festival for us even though we are doing more. It feels like the homecoming. Because we haven’t played in England for like a month.
Freddie: It’s like the last big major UK festival and we feel like we have had a very successful summer.
US: And you are heading straight back out of UK after that…
Arni: Yeah straight back out, we just don’t stop at all.
Freddie: We have 45 festivals booked this year.
US: Who are you most looking forward to seeing at Reading and Leeds?
Freddie: Pulp, The Horrors. The first festival I went to was to Reading in 2003 and I went with my brother who is in The Horrors, so we are going to get together and celebrate that we are both playing. And it is the same line-up as when we went in 2003 Pulp, The Strokes, Jane’s Addiction…
US: A quote from Arni from an interview you did with us in 2009 ‘We don’t enjoy having a day off’ has that changed?
Arni: I’m not tired of touring but touring makes you tired. You are physically and mentally exhausted but you still like touring.
Pete: If we have a day off on tour Arni literally just goes to bed and crawls into his little cocoon.
Arni: I just stay in and don’t talk to anyone. It’s the only day that you can have an excuse to stay sobre. And I watch TV for 24hours. Pete goes and gets shit faced with our guitar tech.
Freddie: I do the same as Arni. I just look for new music for a day and catch up on the BBC 6Music shows.
US: Where would you guys recommend as a good place to go out in London?
Freddie: London has burnt down since we were last here…
Arni: Yeah I don’t even know what’s left.
Freddie: I can tell you where is good to go in Tokyo. There is a club in Tokyo called Gas Panic – it’s awful.
Arni: In Shibuya in Tokyo you can find 24 hour pet shops. You can buy puppies at 5am from the Puppy Emporium. If you go round the corner you can then find somewhere to cook it for you. I miss London in general.
Freddie: What I miss about London is The Cave Club at The Buffalo Bar, that’s my favourite place to go for a night out although I have only ever been four times in my life.
US: Who are you listening to at the moment?
Freddie: Connan Mockasin, he used to be in a band called Connan and the Mockasins he has just done his first solo record. It’s called Forever Dolphin Love, that’s my favourite album of the year.
Arni: I think The Other Lives who are playing with us at the moment are fantastic. We are playing with The Other Lives and Male Bonding and there is also Smith Westerns.
Freddie: Katy Perry…I have recently been getting into that. She’s getting quite big.
Pete: I think she will go far.
Arni: The new Metronomy album is fantastic.
US: After being voted as one of the BBC’s top 5 artists of 2011, who would make
you’re top 5 list for next year?
Freddie: Connan Mockasin, Smith Westerns, The Horrors
Pete: The Horrors? The Horrors aren’t a new band!
Freddie: But they have a new album…Katy Perry
Arni: Spector! Spector are definitely going to be at the top of the new bill. Howler, Unknown Mortal Orchestra. These three are definitely going to be in the top 10 for next year.
Freddie: Some girl came up to me and requested Rebecca Black when I was DJ’ing. Apparantly if I played this everyone would go crazy for it. I had never heard it so I downloaded it there and then and played it. Then the bottles came flying…
Arni: Worst DJ moment for me was when Justin put on Bob Dylan. I tried to salvage it with something a bit more fun. So then Justin puts on Tyler The Creator… there was just no point.
Freddie: Come to see us for a one on one on how to clear a dancefloor.
US: If you could have written any one song what would it be?
Freddie: God Only Knows by the Beach Boys – it is the best song in the World.
US: You have toured the World since the release of your album. What has been your most memorable gig so far?
Freddie: The Bowery Ballroom in New York in February.
Freddie: It was so memorable I got the wrong month.
US: Why was it so memorable?
Arni: It was the first time that we had been to the states and it was the biggest headline show we had done so far and it was to a sold out Bowery Ballroom.
Pete: It was the biggest show ever at that point and it was in New York City.
Arni: And the whole experience was just… New York is unlike anything else that you will ever experience. It’s pretty spectacular.
Freddie: Debbie Harry came.
Arni: And Freddie commented on her trousers. They were pretty nice trousers.
It was the first time that we really went that far out of the country. Having your music precede you, when it travels the World to places you have never been before, is fairly mind blowing.
US: What has been the biggest highlight since the success of your album so far?
Arni: The highlight was the Korean wings in New York or finding a little 50’s
reproduction shop called Deal Sonny’s.
Freddie: For me it was the teenager in me. We went to stay with Albert Hammond Jr in his studio in upstate New York to fool around with a new song. When I was 13/14 I was a huge Strokes fan.
Arni: We stayed on this fake ranch, which Albert had built himself. We spent our time with BB Guns shooting water bottles and saw Black Bears.
US: What is the craziest thing that has happened to you on tour so far?
Arni: Experiencing the Japanese toilets first hand. They have got a little stream that cleans everything for you.
Freddie: I think Japan was the craziest thing we have done. Usually bands get there a few days before to explore Tokyo, we went straight to the gig. Even with that and the jetlag all of the Japanese fans were wearing our t-shirts and they didn’t want autographs they just wanted hugs, it was amazing.
US: Who has the worst habit on tour?
Arni: Freddie definitely. They aren’t habits he just gets these absolutely ludicrous ideas. He eats loads of placebos and supplements that he thinks will sort him out and will mean that he will be fine for the rest of his life. We were in Portland the other day and he spent $70 on white tea thinking that he won’t need caffeine or alcohol again. Half an hour into drinking white tea he was looking for Redbull again.
Freddie: I didn’t think it was going to be that expensive.
US: What is so special about this tea?
Arni: Johnny Marr said you have to get this tea, and anything Johnny Marr says
Freddie will do. He had no idea what this tea is.
Freddie: Basically I always have Redbull before I go on stage and it’s really bad for you to have 3 cans of Redbull a day, obviously, so I went to get this special white tea that has lots of caffeine in it and I’m just an idiot with the salesman.
Arni: He travels with a portable pharmacy with all sorts of shit. Any solution to any little problem you may have you can find in Freddie’s pharmacy. He has these vitamin supplements all day and he drinks it down with Whiskey to round it off to be healthy.
US: That’s not a bad habit being healthy?
Pete: Its not being healthy because he will buy them and then just keep them in his pharmacy.
Freddie: Do I look more healthy than grumpy and Arni?
US: If you could take anyone in the World on tour with you who would you take and why?
Pete: Arni! He is all I would want from the world.
Arni: We would take Pete’s dad…
Freddie: Yes Pete’s dad! He is the life of the party.
Pete: He lives in California.
Freddie: We played in LA and Jake Gyllenhaal came in with Marcus Mumford
and Pete’s dad was like ‘Oh look its Jake Gyllenhaal…Hi I’m Pete’s dad’s’ and he was like ‘who is Pete?’
Arni: Pete’s dad is the parent of The Vaccines that we have met the most. I have met him more than my own parents in the last year.
Freddie: I think he is really cool, it’s just Pete he embarrasses. My mum embarrasses the hell out of me when she comes to our gigs. She wears tiny hot pants and snake skin cowboy boots
Pete: Freddie’s mum is hot. I’d have Freddie’s mum.
US: Next question…What has been your most embarrassing moment on tour so far (not including Pete’s dad)
Pete: There was an incident. In Paris…
Arni: No no no no no nooo. We don’t talk about that!
Pete: We do like to talk about that.
Arni: No no no!
Pete: Its off the record.
Arni: We are not talking about it. I think embarrassing stories are our best- kept secret. There are just a few things that you just don’t tell journalists. So unfortunately no there is nothing embarrassing that has ever happened.
US: Especially not to you Arni in Paris?
Arni: No. We don’t talk about that!
US: Which member of the band has had the most post-break up sex?
Everyone looks up and starts to count
Arni: Wow. It’s probably Freddie.
Freddie: Pete’s married… none of us?
US: What is the best thing that has happened to you since forming The Vaccines?
Arni: Me and Freddie tried to get married in Las Vegas to each other and then Freddie bailed out because he realised that on every official paper from then on he would have to be divorced and he just couldn’t deal with that so we didn’t get married.
Freddie: I’m only 23 I didn’t want to be like a sad divorcee.
Arni: I was so looking forward to marrying my guitarist in Vegas but you know…
Freddie: It’s nice to meet people you admire. It was nice to meet Johnny Marr and it was nice to meet Albert Hammond Jr.
Pete: Just making the record. It was something from within us and we were all trying to fulfil a creative desire for so many years and that record was what all of us are most proud of in our lives
US: The worst thing that has happened?
Freddie: The worst thing that has happened was when we were going from Finland to Hamburg, we had three flights totalling 15 hours and we missed our slot. Never have you felt so horrible or stressed and we found out that there was a full tent of people turned away.
Arni: And we were talking to our crew who have toured for years and they said that no-one has ever missed a slot before.
Freddie: It was heart breaking.
US: Well Justin is back on track with his voice now so hopefully that will be all of the show cancelling for now! What are your plans for 2012?
Pete: More touring
Arni: More recording
Freddie: We would like to get an album out earlish. Like in the first half of next year. Before then we want to milk this one as much as we can
Pete: We want to play these songs more to a few more people in a few different countries so we are going to keep going until Spring. We are thinking about the next record already and at some point we will start rehearsing it and start recording it but we haven’t really got any firm plans as you’ve probably gathered.
Arni: Just yesterday was the official release of Norgaard as a single and on the B Side to that is the first recording that we have done since the album sessions. Everything else that we have done comes from those sessions. We did that a couple of months ago up in Fortress Studios with Rory from Test Icicles and Warm Brains. We are thinking and it is always in discussion.