Born of summer shenanigans, The Vaccines frontman Justin Hayward-Young says the return of the Londoners with fourth album ‘Combat Sports’ is a trek back to their routes, via a half-century of new songs, a touch of nervousness, and occupying the band’s ‘natural space’.
EIGHT YEARS after forming, and swiftly becoming one of Britain’s most exciting and popular rock bands almost by accident, The Vaccines fourth album ‘Combat Sports’ is, perhaps, a product of a band finally taking some time for reflection. It’s been a frantic ride, and not one the million-selling rockers exactly planned.
The early days of The Vaccines have acquired almost mythological status. Taking a break from his more regular role as a folk singer under the guise of Jay Jay Pistolet (a genre Hayward-Young’s confident he’ll return to at some point, though not under the guise of The Vaccines), the Vaccines frontman admits that the myth – though perhaps exaggerated – has elements of truth.
“We were just f*cking around in the summer,” Hayward-Young recalls. “‘Wetsuit’ and ‘Do You Wanna’ were written during a summer holiday, and weren’t supposed to be some kind of mission statement. I was borrowing a friends guitar, and played the songs to a couple of people.”
“I was just enjoying it with nothing else to do, really, and made a quick demo from the song I wrote. It got out there and I got an email to go and have coffee with someone in the industry, and that was it. It went from there.”
The road from summer shenanigans has been somewhat jittery, if also ecstatic. “It was very nerve-wracking,” Hayward-Young recalls. “We didn’t really know how to deal with the way things were taking off, and with the big crowds to start with. It was really weird and hard.”
Some years later, in 2016, drummer and backing vocalist Pete Robinson departed the band, triggering a period of contemplation, and the rootsy return that is ‘Combat Sports’, arguably the closest The Vaccines have come to those heady early days of messing around in rock.