The Vaccines: What Did You Expect?

Text Muna Noor

Images Roger Sargent

London-based, indie quartet The Vaccines have been surrounded by media hype from their offset prompting the name of their album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines. Formed in June 2010 by Justin Young (vocals) and Freddie Cowan (guitar), Anri Hjorvar (bass) and Pete Robertson (drums), they exploded onto the indie scene with their single ‘If You Wanna’ which was crowned ‘Hottest Record In The World’ on 18 August 2010 by Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1. JUICE caught up with Anri last year while they were headlining Splendour In The Grass.

You guys have gone from, basically forming a single to like now the album, and then performing to heaps of people. Do you think everything is happening very fast?

Yeah, definitely it is. You know, there’s no arguing against that. Nonetheless, I think we’ve stayed in control of it so far and hopefully we will be able to continue to stay in control of it for the future. We’ve been growing as a band very quickly because we’ve been thrown in the deep end but at the same time before anybody had ever heard of us, we’ve had all our material ready and we knew exactly what we were, we knew exactly what we wanted to be and we didn’t have to develop in front of anyone. It just comes from conviction and a lot of experiences of playing all sorts of other things before, so even though it’s happened fast, it doesn’t feel too fast.

The music press has been great and rallying behind you. Do you think it’s a good thing or a bad thing, or do you not care less?

I don’t really care but nonetheless I think the music press, especially the British one, used very flamboyant words about us very early on. The first thing that anyone said about us was “the great saviours of British rock or roll” and something like that. But I think this is their job. There should be new bands in the public spectrum for everybody else to judge because if it wasn’t for that sort of press, we wouldn’t have any regeneration of music. If you think about American radio stations and even indie stations that are supposed to be on top of it, they’re still playing like The Best of Rock and Roll for the past 40 years. The English Music Press, for us, as flaky and shallow as it can be, I think it’s a very important job that they do, and we’re definitely benefits of that. But we don’t really care [laughs]. Not really.

The other thing that the music press kept mentioning [about The Vaccines] over and over again is that the music’s quite pop-ish and we guess in that way, accessible. But personally do you think pop is a dirty word?

Oh, no. We’re all massive fans of pop music, and we’ve always been. Pop music is essentially like the invention of popular culture.  What you call pop music today is completely different to what my perspective of pop music is. You know, it’s just like R&B means Otis Redding to me, but R&B means Ke$ha to most people.

If you could travel to anywhere in the world by yourself, where would you go and why?

Just because we just got back from Japan yesterday, I’d probably go back to Japan. Because when we were there, we got about 20 hours to spend there. Japan just blew me away, it’ was so beautiful and the people were amazing. The culture is so respectful and nice and that’s something that you lack in England.

Do you have any travel tips?

Actually, yes. I think one of the most beautiful places in the world is actually a tiny place called Lulworth Cove in England and it’s a completely untapped in as a tourist place. So it’s got this untouched and amazing coastline and it’s an amazing place.

As you guys are from London, here’s a London-related question. With the Olympics coming up, is it a good thing or a bad thing to see changes in London so far?

Yeah, massive changes. There’s this area in East London called Hackney Wick, which essentially was a massive area of abandoned warehouses that were taken over by broke students and artists two years ago. But that’s all bought up by the Olympics committee and people were getting thrown out of there and they’re now building massive shopping centers and so on. So there are a lot of changes in London at the moment, I’m not going to be in London for the Olympics but I know that it’ll do great things for [London].

If there was a track that you’d pick to be the Olympic theme, what would it be?

It would be the new Coldplay single. It sounds like it was written for the Olympics [laughs].

The Vaccines rocked out at Splendour In The Grass 2012 in Woodford Queensland. JUICE was flown there by Air Asia X. Find out more about the fest and what they have planned for 2102 by going to and get ready to book your tix to Gold Coast pronto at Asia X flies daily to Gold Coast from Kuala Lumpur and back. Air Asia X also flies to Melbourne, Perth, Seoul, Tokyo and many more music-friendly cities. Check for flight schedules and ticket prices and don’t forget to ask about Air Asia X Premium and its lie flat beds. More on The Vaccines at