The Vamps discography is a journey.
From their joyous, upbeat & romantic beginnings as teenagers in 2012, to on-trend dancefloor thumpers with Matoma, singles with Bollywood stars and Jamaican smash-maker Omi, a hip-hop cut with Krept & Konan and stacks of big, stadium-ready pop in between, it’s hard to find a throughline for the sound of one of the most charismatic young groups to form last decade.
But 2020 sees the band reborn, a sum of their influences but a firm knowledge of who they are. Married In Vegas is the first new song with the band at the front in nearly three years and there’s been a good reason for that. To dive deep, Nic Kelly is in bold, various Vamps are in not-bold, and this conversation has been condensed for the purposes of making it easier to read.
Let’s talk about this song. What a fucking comeback for The Vamps!
Brad: It feels really, really good. It’s a shame we can’t go out and gig it obviously, but it’s really nice. Like we took two years out from really releasing an album and deliberately did that because we wanted to take time to make the music as good as it can be, as authentic as it can be to us, and I think Married In Vegas is the absolute first step back that we wanted to take. I think if you’re into this single, then you’re gonna like the rest of the album because it’s kind of a really good taste of everywhere we go.
I know Married In Vegas started with you Brad and Lostboy jumping in… was it a real room together or was it between two different rooms?
Brad: It was a Zoom Room. So it was completely Zoom. We had two different setups going, he was in his studio and I was at home in my home studio. And it was very weird. It’s like, how to write a song in quarantine in the 21st century, it was like the saviour.
But also it’s such a different experience, isn’t it? What was the first session on Zoom like?
Brad: That was honestly the first session that we’ve done on Zoom. We were finishing off the album, doing little things, adding vocals to the album tracks, sending guitars and programming bits back and forth between the boys. We finished the album. So it’s like, okay, now I can maybe try something else and initially, we weren’t writing this for the album, because we’d finished it in our heads. So the idea was to work on a riff from like a week before and then we were looking to just mess around with the riff and then it ended up just being the song that we didn’t know that the album needed, weirdly. It was that energy that we hadn’t got on the album yet and it just kind of worked!
Tristan: It’s funny because when Brad first played me that song that night, he did it through Zoom and it was really loud on the speakers and I could hear it all amazingly, but as soon as the chorus comes in and it goes into that “yeaaaaaaaaah”, like, a big bass thing came in and the whole thing just like, cut. It effectively limited on the speakers. So like, I was like loving it but then I never really heard the chorus for quite a while. So I was like, it’s got a really good verse and pre-chorus, but I never heard the full chorus!
When you finally got the chance to hear it, in the flesh, or with a good pair of headphones on, what was that experience like getting to hear that massive chorus for the first time?
Tristan: The energy was there, it was obvious for us to release and we’d always aimed to get an upbeat song but it’s hard because you always know what you need or want for the album and then it’s almost impossible following a pattern to be creative and write a specific thing but Married In Vegas was always what we were planning for, but never really did, but then eventually it kind of came through thin air.
What do you think was the reason that it took making an entire album to get to the lead single?
Brad: I think we consciously or subconsciously put a lot of pressure on ourselves for this album. Because we knew we wanted it to be our best one. And we wanted to feel the most proud of this one, we are proud of all of them, but this one’s a really, really big moment for us as a band to kind of re-establish and put something out that we genuinely love. So we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and we worked really, really hard throughout it. And then I think once we handed it over to the label… and it’s really fun writing an album but it’s also really stressful… so you’re like thank God. We’ve got this. We’re so proud of this. We slaved over it. And it means the world and then I think once you kind of relax, then the easy stuff just comes through. The most natural thing I think was Married In Vegas, like it was written so fast! It was like one of the fastest songs that we’ve done and I think when they say like, the most natural ones come really quick, that’s absolutely true! Because it was just… there was no pressure on it. It just kind of came out. I wish they were all like that to be honest, Nic, but they’re really not. We could write an album in three days!
What’s the song you spent the longest amount of time on on the album?
Tristan: There is a song called Treading Water, it’s towards the end of the album and it’s a really beautiful song. I think it was written before we started this album, and we were like, oh it’s not right for our old music and then we kind of started writing Cherry Blossom and we were like, “this is exactly what this music’s about.” We were working on Treading Water for the past two years, maybe.
You said something interesting there, you said it wasn’t right for our old music. I mean, you guys have now covered pretty much every aspect of pop humanly possible. I mean, you’ve got the fun, upbeat, core pop stuff and then you’ve done dance, even a little bit of hip hop with the Krept and Konan gear last year, what is the edge coming into this album?
Tristan: I think the edge is the look, the sound of the music and the new attitude of The Vamps and it’s a really positive attitude. It’s not a “fuck you” attitude, it’s a be yourself attitude, don’t really let anyone else tell you to be any different and do what you want to do in life. That’s one of the main messages behind this album.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned about yourselves since Night & Day came out? What’s the biggest thing that’s evolved for each of you? Bradley, you start.
Brad: That’s a good question, man. For the longest time, I think we looked to other people and we justified things through other people. So whether it was like, asking other people if this song is right for the project, or you’re writing songs, finding a style or whatever it is, you kind of go into another person. Another vessel. I think it got to the point, whether it’s a Coming of Age thing, whether it’s feeling more confident in our own abilities, or just realising that like, it is our project, and it’s us who have got to stand up on the stage and do it… I think getting to that point of being like, you know what, we’re just going to make something that we absolutely are intrinsic in the whole thing, that we absolutely love, that we can stand behind and then you’re kind of invincible! Because it’s like, we’re the biggest fans of this album. We absolutely love it. And I think you can tell that through the music. And by doing that, we’ve got to a point where we’re like, whatever happens, we’re just going to be really happy with it because we’ve got this baseline of absolutely loving what we’ve done. The stories that we’ve got through making this album in the way that we’ve done it are really special memories, so it’s probably that. Learning to just kind of, like Tris said earlier, do what you want and believe in what are you doing.
Connor: I was going to say a similar thing to be honest! To be truly happy with stuff that we’re doing, we need to be as in control as possible, even stuff like the artwork, for this album especially, we’ve been the most in control we’ve been. Right to the bones of it. I don’t think we’ve ever done that before and in such detail and I think that’s why we’re so happy and so proud of this album.
Tristan: How am I meant to follow those two?! I think just using the experience we’ve had to help other people and encourage other people to be their own genius because I genuinely think there’s a genius in everyone and it’s down to you to find that but a lot of people don’t have the encouragement. I feel like over the past couple years, I’ve definitely learned that anything is possible. And if we can use our experience and what we’ve learned in this world to help others that’s a huge thing.
And finally, not that the pressure’s on, hit me James.
James: I think it’s really relevant with the whole validity aspect that Brad was saying. But I also think there’s something that’s happened to us where we’re not trying to be anything other than what we are now. So with this album, a lot of the songs revolve again around four instruments and Brad’s voice, which I think’s really, really important. A lot of artists and musicians and maybe we’ve done it at certain points have done a song in a certain style because the industry is doing songs in a certain way. And I think both musically and personally, really, it’s important to recognise that you will never be something other than what you are as a band and as a person. It’s like, I’m never going to be as good at football as Connor, but I have interests in other things! So it’s about kind of harnessing what you really feel you’re good at and running with it, instead of trying to like duplicate something someone else is doing.
Connor: He’s a great footballer.
It sounds like you guys have really found something in the last little while. I could hear the clearness with which you speak about the music you’re making at the moment and where you guys are at personally. I think it’s not a case of discounting the music you’ve done before is it? It’s taking the bits you’ve learned from those bits, whether it’s a bit of the dance stuff, it’s a bit of the really pop stuff and bring it into this new world that feels acutely you guys. It’s an exciting place to be.
Brad: Nic you completely get it, like that’s the whole thing with Cherry Blossom! It’s not discrediting anything that we’ve done, it is taking that and being like, fuck, we’re so proud of what we’ve done and we just want to kind of roll with that. The rebirth is very much paying homage to what we’ve done and then trying something different.
James: Clearly you notice the difference. We haven’t done very many interviews in the last couple weeks, it’s the first that someone’s said, “I realised that you’ve caught something special and it’s a different chapter for you,” and I think that’s really cool.