Interview: The Vaccines

Thirsty for JUICE content? Quench your cravings on our Instagram, TikTok and WhatsApp

Fresh London based, indie quartet The Vaccines have been surrounded with 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) and fellow band members Anri Hjorvar (bass) and Pete Robertson (drums),  they exploded into 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 the band as the one of the main headliners for this year’s Splendour In The Grass.

How are you?
I’m very well. I’m pretty flown out but I’m very well.

Did you come straight from London?
No, we stopped in Japan and flew over to Australia yesterday through Singapore.

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 wording 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. They should be   new bands and putting them to 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, 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 I 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. I think the actual meaning of the word changes but originally that’s invention of simple , straight to the heart, emotional sing-able songs. That’s pop music, and no, it’s definitely not a bad word.

Cool. Zane Lowe championed your music very early on. Good DJ, bad interviewer. What do you think?
(Laughs) I don’t know. Well, I’ve never had a good interview with him, but I think it’s mainly because I’m a bad interviewee. I’ve got a great respect for him, although he has put me in a spot quite a lot, so yeah, I’ve never enjoyed an interview with him.

For your ‘Wetsuit’ video, you’ve asked fans to upload Instagram pictures. Whose idea was that?
We wanted to do something integrated with the fans. We just sort of looked around for ideas and Instagram wanted to do it with us, and so we just jumped on it. I sort of realized later that it really limits your options because it’s only iPhone related and I don’t even have an iPhone; I can’t even use Instagram. But we’ve developed it so that you can actually send pictures from wherever you are and we’ll upload them through Instagram. So the idea worked through different sources essentially. I just noticed that Beyonce was doing the same thing.

She just announced it last week and I was like, “Come on.”

If you could experience another era, would you want to?
No, we live in a society that’s opened up channels that were never been opened to anyone before, and I wouldn’t want to live it. But exactly because of the channels that we have today, we access to the music, culture, films and all of that stuff that were happening about 50, 60 years ago. 20 years ago, you couldn’t do that because you’d have to be an art collector but now, you can just go on Youtube and it’s there. All of this mad culture from anywhere in the world for any given point of time; it’s all there in front of you and you could just access it if you wanted. So no, I wouldn’t change it for anything, it just saved my life.

As you guys are from London, here’s a London-related question. With the Olympics coming up next year, 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 is 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].

You’ve planned your exit strategy already?
We’re just going to be on tour (Laughs).

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 .

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.

So did you get to see Tokyo at all?
We got to Tokyo about 10 in the evening and we had to be out of Tokyo by seven in the morning, so [we were at] Shibuya for three hours and then four hours of sleep and back on the plane.

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.

Are you guys surfers?
No, I tried to be but I’ve never surfed anywhere else but in England.

We were wondering if the ‘Wetsuit’ song was influenced by wanting to retire and go off and surf somewhere…
Well yeah, to a certain extent. It’s more about enjoying the moment and not worrying constantly. Time passes by really quickly and you sort of realize that and ‘Wetsuit’ is about relaxing and having some fun and not worry so much.
I find it really insightful to hear that from people as young as you…Life in London especially, moves so fast and if you don’t have a set plan by the age of 21, you’re an outsider. So, I think that’s ridiculous; you shouldn’t make a decision for the rest of your life when you’re in your 20s. Do it further on.


JUICE would like to thank AirAsia X for flying us to Splendour In The Grass, Australia. Book your flights to Australia or any Air Asia X destination by visiting Find out more about Splendour In The Grass at

The Vaccines will be peforming in Singapore in January with Kasabian. More info here.