ICON: A big welcome back! The Vamps took a break after you were worried about getting bored and burnt out. Now that you’re back together, has your collaborative style changed?
Bradley: “I think it’s evolved, like you say I think we’ve become a bit more understanding of everyone’s process. it’s been a really refined process [more] than any album we’ve done and we’ve had a lot more fun and written less songs for it. A lot of these songs have been the ones that have given us that, ‘Oh shit, this is why we write music, this is why we are in a band, this is the reason we want to do it’, and it’s just about trying to continually go back to that feeling when we first had it. So, it’s a very uplifting, positive album and one that we’ve wanted to make for a while.”
What was the biggest lesson in taking that break?
James: “Oh God, I think the biggest lesson for me was as Tristan said, we did a big world tour and then we all got to a point in our lives where we thought, this was the only thing we knew for eight years. I think there was a time in each of our lives where we were like, ‘Okay, we’re sort of mid-twenties now, what do we want in life?
I think that it was amazing that after a few months of being apart, we all gravitated back to do The Vamps again…
Bradley: Similar to James, I think we definitely took a lot of time and I went and did a writing trip in LA by myself for like a month about two years ago. It made me realise how much I love making music for the band. And how much that is a completely different source of therapy and catharsis doing it with these boys and making music as a unit and writing songs and bringing it into the fold. I think going two years has been a lot of journeys to get back to, kind of where we started…
Tristan: I feel that even though we did take some time off, I think that was more from the schedule, than each other even though we weren’t really doing something, or we had a break from tour, we would always be seeing each other. I think through that time, as the boys said, you realise what you do have. That’s when the special moments happen and the feelings coming across with what you’re doing. I feel like you have to have a break and go away sometimes and just do your own thing and chill out for a bit to come back stronger mentally. That prepares you better for what you want to do, and The Vamps is exactly what we all want to do…
‘Cherry Blossom’ is a new chapter and the first album where The Vamps have had total creative control. Did you need to take a stand to achieve this?
James: “We are very lucky that from day one, even though I guess a lot of people looking from the outside in would presume that we didn’t maybe have control when we were much younger. We have been very lucky in one of the reasons that we signed with Mercury back in the day was we felt that they appreciated the vision that we had for The Vamps. So you know, we have been evolved from day one but I think this time, we kind of and it maybe coincided with taking a bit of time away, we re-evaluated what we wanted and where we wanted The Vamps to go and one of those measures was to reduce the team and take it back to the core DNA of what The Vamps is which really stems from just the four of us… So, there wasn’t really like a stand where we said, ;Fuck you, we’re not working with you anymore’, it was more like we just made sure we were across everything and I think this really made a big difference.”
How has your sound evolved in this new album?
Bradley: “For me, the biggest thing is having belief in our own self and abilities and this is the first time that we’ve had the opportunity to work with so many incredible songwriters for so long. We’ve collaborated on the majority of the albums but it’s the first time we’ve ever solely written the singles. In the middle of last year, ‘Married in Vegas’ I wrote in lockdown, it’s having that ability to be like “Actually no, we are going to completely write the songs ourselves’, which has been a really nice way to have that creative development… I think you need to be given time and space to do that and so having that time and space has allowed us to develop, I think a slightly darker sound, a slightly more organic.”
Tristan: “It’s the perfect hybrid.”
‘Married in Vegas’ was the first single you released since being back. What was the general feeling in the lead up to that drop?
James: “It’s a strange one because, I think originally if there was no coronavirus, we would’ve released another song earlier.”
Bradley: “We were thinking of going with ‘Better’ for the longest time.”
James: “And I think we had to delay things, I think it gave us time to evaluate what we wanted to release, and we said ‘Married in Vegas’ kind of came about during lockdown. In the run up to the first launch there was a lot of uncertainty, for a long time in the early days of the campaign we weren’t sure if we could even do a photoshoot or a music video and I think that was quite a scary thing, not knowing… I think releasing ‘Married in Vegas’ that night, was almost as exciting as when we first released ‘Can We Dance’. It was almost like the familiarity about it. It was like we were doing it for the first time again.”
You’ve been together since 2012. How have you dealt with creative differences?
Bradley: “Naturally, we do all lean into different genres and styles of music and creation process, I think they are very different, so I think it’s more about collating the different aspects of one personality with four aspects to it. So, it’s about collating the way James plays guitar and the way Tristan plays the drums and Connor plays base and then pushing that all through one unified thing and picking out the best bits. It’s almost like curating it all into a sound that is the best amalgamation of those things.”
When lockdowns lift and we can travel again, where do you want to take the album first?
Tristan: “We want to take it anywhere and everywhere that people will let us go. As soon as it’s safe to go, we will be there. We love touring, I think that’s one of the reasons we do this, to visit countries, to see people come together from all over the world and just enjoy an hour and a half of music. That’s what we really miss. Literally everywhere, we want to go anywhere.”
The Vamps’ new album ‘Cherry Blossom’ is out now. For more from the band, visit their website here.