It has been ten wonderful years for The Vamps. After starting out their music careers as teenagers and posting covers on YouTube, they quickly grew to be one of the biggest bands in the UK, with a large, loyal, and dedicated fan base.
2022 marks their tenth anniversary, and they will be celebrating with a greatest hits tour at the end of the year. With two Number 1 albums, an astonishing six billion streams, two billion views on their YouTube channel, and becoming the first band to headline at London’s iconic venue O2 arena five years in a row, they certainly have a lot to celebrate, which means their tour is going to be one hell of a party.
Not only that, but they will also be releasing a fanzine to mark the occasion. This will include photos, exclusive interviews with the guys, limited edition merchandise, and a CD which contains some of the bands favourite songs.
They have recently returned from Barcelona where they hosted an epic weekend festival, which saw a line-up of fantastic music acts including Sigala, Mae Muller, Matoma and more! The weekend also saw a cocktail masterclass with Brad, a boat party with Connor, a brunch with Tristan, and a scavenger hunt with James.
We had a chat with the guys to reminisce on the past ten years, and what the future is looking like for them.
I wanted to start by talking to you about your fanzine that you’ve got coming out for your ten-year anniversary. Why did you decide to release something in that format?
Brad: I think we always liked the idea of doing something that was like a scrap book, or a collection of memories of the past ten years, that was stuff that hadn’t been released. So, it’s like unreleased photos, interviews where we kind of go a bit deeper than we have in other ones. It’s just like very exclusive because we’ve kind of grown up with exclusive merch of bands that we love, and I think from a fan perspective, it’s really nice to have those kind of specialist, limited edition things. So, we wanted to do it as that really, as a celebration of our ten years, and then also, hopefully the people that are getting it are going to be fans who have been on this journey with us, so it feels like a shared thing.
Yeah because you have got your fans involved haven’t you…how have they been involved?
James: They’ve sent in pictures.
Connor: Sent in photos, yeah.
And that’s all going to be in the fanzine?
B: A few hand-picked ones, yeah.
So, you’ve got an album coming out with the fanzine. How did you decide on the songs that you were going to put on there?
Tristan: It’s a collection of faves, plus like the stuff that our fans really like, but mostly kind of, some live tracks on there, some personal favourites. It’s just a collection of what The Vamps are about, really.
That must have been quite hard, you’ve done a lot of songs!
So, you’re going on tour at the end of the year. What are you most looking forward to about it?
J: It’s going to be the first tour that it’s not like with an album per say, or campaign, so I think picking the set list will be interesting. It will be nice to cover the whole decade of The Vamps in a set list, so I don’t know what that will look like, but it will be good though, it will be really cool. And maybe like reimagine some of the earlier songs for how we perform now, maybe, we’ll see!
Did you mention that you’re getting fans to help choose your set list, or did I miss hear that?
C: Yeah, I think we’ll maybe do it like a twitter thing or something. We’ve done similar things in the past, but yeah, like we’ll do a certain portion of the set where they decide between a few.
Ok. That might be a good idea, considering you got bullied into playing Lovestruck on the last tour!
B: We did, it was bullying…thank you for acknowledging that we were bullied!
B: We didn’t know the words, we didn’t know the chords.
J: Yeah, genuinely that!
You’ve been in the music industry a really long time. How have you seen it change over the years?
B: A lot, to be honest, and it’s kind of changed in stages as well. There was a big change after our first album, in terms of the way, this is a bit more like the behind the scenes stuff, that the way the approach to radio was….it really changed. Whereas before, you would be able to kind of build up a bit of excitement around your songs, or we would gig the first album songs for a while, before they ever went to radio, so people would appreciate the songs…things like that. And then that changed, so you couldn’t do that. And then streaming came in around the third album for us.
I think with every change, as challenging as it may be, it presents a whole host of new opportunities. So, at first, it’s quite a scary thing, and there’s a big change going on at the moment, with Tik Tok. We’ve had conversations about it, and I think, on the whole, it’s a good thing, because it gives potentially, unknown artists, or unsigned artists, as much of an opportunity as the biggest artists. So, it levels the playing field, which is only a good thing.
Do you ever find it hard to keep up?
B: That’s part of it though, it keeps it exciting. Sometimes, getting complacent can be a bad thing, and just like, it being the same strategy every campaign can be a bad thing. Learning to adapt is good. So yeah, we’re just waiting for the next big change, whatever that will be!
Is there anything about the industry that you would change?
B: Tris, you mentioned the way that song writers are paid, off the back of Spotify and streaming. It’s not great, it’s not good at all really. So, I think that can, and will inevitably change in the next few years. So that needs to be looked at!
I think putting a structure around, especially now, with social media, and how integral it is in an artists’ field, I think there needs to be real support networks provided by anyone…whether it’s a record label, or a management company. Whoever it is who is supporting an artist, because they are asked so much more of than they were a few years ago. You’re not only the singer, song writer, producer, performer. You’ve got to be the content creator, and come up with the ideas yourself, and put yourself out there.
So, I think there needs to be a real like mental health support system around the artist, whether it’s like a therapy service, a time out, or whatever it is, I think that needs to get looked at.
That’s a good answer.
So, in your ten years then, who would you say has been like an influential teacher or mentor, or just someone that you’ve looked up to?
T: There’s been a couple of heavy hitters in the industry for us, like throughout the years, on the first album who’ve moved on to really interesting, amazing things. Obviously, our families play a big role in that. Each other, we inspire each other. Who else?
B: Is there any drum ones?
T: Yeah, I mean, loads! Well the main one was like Joey Jordison who’s passed away, which sucks, and a couple of others. Travis Barker obviously.
B: There was a group of producers that we worked with around the first album. They were called Espionage. They were like a duo from Norway, who wrote a lot of great songs. They co-wrote and produced a lot of the first album singles. And I think what we learnt from them was like, they were so rigorous with the way they approached the song writing, and the vocal takes, and the production. And I think, as hard as it was at the time for us, because they really put us through our paces, it actually instilled a really high work ethic for all of us. So, it set our bar very high within the band.
What’s been the best advice you’ve been given in your music careers?
T: It was quite funny, there were two of us, or maybe not, it was so long ago! I was speaking to Taylor Swifts’ mum, and I had a really good conversation with her about not relying on third party people. You know, “if you guys want it to happen, you have to make it happen”.
It was talking about her experience, and how you can’t rely on the label, you can’t rely on management. You have to really have that vision of how you would make this happen if it was just me, you know what I mean?
What’s been the worst advice?
T: You know what? Someone told me that if you don’t mix alcohol, you’re fine? If you stay on the same drink, you’re still gonna be screwed the next day! It doesn’t really affect it, like there’s no difference for me!
C: That’s life advice!
I asked a band that question before and they said something like, they were told to make sure that their fans know that they’re beneath them, or something!
J: What the fuck?! You will always be beneath us (sarcastically)!
T: Who was that?
I don’t remember, it was a band, but I can’t remember!
T: Yeah you do!
C: That’s so fuckin rude!
B: Let’s hope they ignored it.
It was their label that gave them the advice, but I can’t remember who the band was.
J: Bastards! You will never amount to anything (sarcastically!)
So, what would you say has been your proudest accomplishment?
J: Number one album I think, on both the third and fifth is cool, but I think like five consecutive years at the O2 is kind of crazy. Obviously loads of people have played it loads of times, but I think that doing it every year is kind of crazy, and to be able to sell that.
C: We’re still a band!
C: No one’s hit each other yet.
B: Not intentionally!
T: Honestly, the friendship for me is an achievement. Just that kind of, ten years of knowing someone, and actually still being as tight as ever, you know what I mean?
Yeah, that’s an achievement in itself with anyone, isn’t it?
What else would you like to accomplish?
B: Another ten years?
Another ten years!
B: Absolutely! More albums.
T: More travelling. There’s loads of places we haven’t been to.
B: Do a gig in Bali.
C: Yeah, on the beach.
T: Yeah, that’s actually genuinely on the bucket list.
C: That’s where we should do the weekender!
All *ahh yeah!!*
T: That would be crazy, things like that!
C: So relaxed!
So, you’ve done a lot of albums. What has been your most favourite era so far?
B: It’s either Meet the Vamps or Cherry Blossom for me. Between those two. I loved Cherry Blossom as an era. I liked everything, from the styling and the artwork.
It had a good aesthetic.
B: Yeah, thank you!
C: Meet the Vamps probably had the biggest learning curve. Everything was new, and we were learning everything right at the start. We were so young for the industry, which was probably a good thing and a bad thing. Because we were so young, we couldn’t really put our foot down a lot. But then we’ve learnt through that.
T: Four Corners for me, probably, because we actually went to four corners of the world, which was cool.
J: Yeah, I agree. The music and the touring eras, like some of them weren’t always at the same time, so it’s hard to like pinpoint one. But from a music perspective, I think the magic around making the first album was really cool, which like no one else saw, because it was obviously before we released any music. But that was cool, like getting the songs together, going to meetings for the first time, joining the band. Like, all that for me was really cool!
Wake Up was my favourite era, if you wanted to know?!
B: Was it really?
Yeah, I love Wake Up.
So, what’s a song that you’ve written that you’ve been the proudest of, and why does that song stand out for you?
B: I think collectively, the approach to Missing You was fun, because it started off like, I had the verse and the chorus, and it was just a kind of like a piano thing. And then we took it all in, the four of us, and we went into a studio called Livingston in North London, and we just figured the whole thing out. It was really, really fun. Like, we spent some time figuring the bass line out, and writing the second verse round the piano together, and it was like a really nice, collective writing, which we have done a few times.
C: I sort of like Hurricane, like that was brief, and then we went into a room and actually played it all live at the same time, which we hadn’t really done before.
T: Hurricane was really fun, because remember, we had James’ surprise party thing? Do you both remember?
B: At the studio?
T: For his surprise birthday.
J: Oh, LA, yeah!
T: In LA, Hurricane, and the second day, we had to leave early.
J: It was my 21st birthday or some shit.
B: What did we do?
C: Oh, in that room?
J: We watched the RDMA’s, and it was so nice.
B: What a life!
So, when you’re writing songs, how do you get over a creative block, if you’re stuck, or you have got writers’ block?
T: Have a break.
B: Have a break, deffo. I think it’s like, if you stay on it too long, it’s hard to see it clearly, so have a break. Maybe write a different idea and come back to it, and if it’s meant to be, it will be. If you’re really struggling with something, maybe it’s just time to move on to something else.
Right, fair enough!
So, Connor, you have just done Dancing on Ice, and James, you were on I’m a Celebrity. Are there any other shows you would like to be a part of?
B: Is The Cube still going?
J: I don’t know, man!
I think it is, I think it’s not long come back.
B: I’d love to see one of us on The Cube, because it must be fun, but I’m not sure if there’s any others. None of these things have ever been planned. It’s just like, if the opportunity comes up at the right time in our lives, and in the bands’ lives, then…
Can I make a suggestion?
I would love to see one of you in The Masked Singer!
What would you go as, if you did?
C: I would love to do a Davy Jones of Pirates of The Caribbean, with tentacles!
J: That would be so funny!
B: I think it would either be that or a bearded dragon!
J: That’s good actually! Do you get to choose what you are?
C: I didn’t know that.
T: Have you seen the budget behind the costumes as well.
B: They’re big aren’t they.
They’re insane, yeah!
J: Was someone like a fly, like why would you choose that? Grow up man!!
C: Aled did it.
J: Did he? Aled Jones?
I’d go as something really boring, like a pencil, or like a microwave or something.
A microwave would be good, because when you go to unmask, you can just open the door, and then your face would be there!
B: A post box would be quite good, like a red one.
Yeah, you could see out of it then!
Ok, so you’re obviously very talented musicians, but what’s the most useless talent you have?
T: Fifa, honestly. It’s just, it’s awful!
J: Do you mean like talent, like you’re really good at something, that’s pointless?
J: So, like, the opposite of that.
T: Pointless? Ok.
J: We’re just good at fuckin everything!! There must be something!
B: It’s only useful talents that we have!
T: The Irish jump is really impressive.
B: I don’t know if I can still do that, I’m a bit stiff!
You’re just good at everything!!
If you can have your fans remember you for just one thing, what would it be?
B: My favourite thing is when you meet a fan, or a group of fans, and they’re like “oh we met through you guys”. And they become best friends through us. That happens quite a lot, and I think if we can instil some kind of happiness, and some good moments throughout peoples’ lives, I think that’s what the purpose of music is. So, I would say that, if we could leave that, that would be good.
Is that the same for all of you?
J: I don’t like making people happy!!
J: No, yeah, that’s really nice.
So, what’s the weirdest or funniest thing you’ve been asked in an interview?
J: We had some guy in Belgium who was like really, really sexual!
C: The juicy mouth guy?
J: Yeah, he was asking like really weird, sexual questions!
B: The process of the interview was like a sext conversation. Like who’s the best sexter in the band?
C: And he would start it off, and we had to carry on the conversation, it was weird!! He said I had a fruity little mouth!
B: You do have a fruity little mouth!
C: And a juicy one! And there was something about loins? That sort of thing?
B: Eat my loins!
C: Yeah, he said “eat my loins”, and I said no!!
C: That was the end of the conversation!
That sounds really uncomfortable!
So, last one then. What’s one question you wish someone would ask you in an interview but no one ever does?
B: Oh, I dunno!
T: What brand of boxers are you wearing?
*checks what brand of boxers he’s wearing! *
T: What about you guys?
B: That’s about it really!
So, you want to be asked what boxers you’re wearing?
B: It’s an important question, it’s a big part of someone’s day.
Big thanks to The Vamps for having a chat with us. Their fanzine is now available to pre-order here – if you pre-order now, you will be given access to presale for their Greatest Hits Tour two days before tickets are due to go on sale. General sale will be up on Friday 1st July. Tickets will be available here, and full tour dates can be found below;
10 Years Of The Vamps – The Greatest Hits Tour
Wednesday 23 November – Manchester O2 Apollo
Friday 25 November – Brighton Centre
Sunday 27 November – London The O2 Arena
Wednesday 30 November – Bournemouth International Centre
Thursday 1 December – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
Saturday 3 December – Dublin 3 Arena
Monday 5 December – Belfast SSE Arena
Wednesday 7 December – Liverpool M&S Bank Arena
Thursday 8 December – Glasgow OVO Hydro
Saturday 10 December – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
Sunday 11 December – Birmingham Utilita Arena