Turn on the radio… It is nearly virtually guaranteed, that in the next 30 minutes or so, that you will hear The Vaccines’ lead vocalist Justin Hayward-Young shortly sing, “Just give me a sign!”.
The West-London band’s latest hit record, ‘Give Me a Sign’, is currently fulfilling every major radio station’s playlist at the moment, with the four-piece gang ready to rock their latest material in the UK towards the end of November.
Having recently come back from some gigs in the likes of Norway, Sweden and Denmark; Shoot spoke exclusively to Justin and bass guitarist Árni Árnason about their upcoming tour dates, what lies ahead for the band in 2016 and of course their love of football.
After selling over a millions records worldwide and having toured with the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Arctic Monkeys, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Muse; their third studio album, ‘English Graffiti’, released back in May, showcased the band’s finest collection of work to date.
After reaching number one in the UK Vinyl Chart and number two in the UK Albums Chart, The Vaccines have lined up their biggest UK and Ireland tour to show off their musical masterpieces, before setting off to Australia to support Mumford and Sons in December.
But before they jet off, Justin and Árni popped into see us to explain their support for their clubs, their earliest football memories, favourite players and transfer wish lists.
You released your third studio album, ‘English Graffiti’, back in May. What was the reaction to your latest album?
Justin: “We were sort of saying this; it is quite difficult to know really. Because you sort of make the album for yourself and then you put it out there for everyone, but by the time you have put it out, you have sort of washed your hands of it. You are not really getting like daily updates on what people think about you. The only way that we can really gauge it is that we are very proud of it. It is definitely our favourite record. Now we are playing the shows and gigs; those songs have definitely permeated their way into people’s hearts and minds alongside our old songs. It is really nice when you play a song like ‘20/20’, which is a single on this record, it feels like a big cheer when you are playing. So it is a really nice gratifying feeling.”
What can your fans expect on your latest round of gigs?
Justin: “It is actually the first time that we are playing stuff from the new record. We played some stuff in the summer at festivals, but this is the first time we are playing our own shows and new material. So it is an opportunity to see that. We have always prided ourselves on being a great live band. Every time we come off stage; if we are not completely drained of all blood, sweat and tears, then I think we feel like we have cheated people. It is a really good show, I think. We are flirting with production at the moment, with the screens and pyrotechnics. I think it is just a great rock and roll show, it is a really good gig. I am really proud of us every night.”
You have played with the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Stones Roses, The Arctic Monkeys and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Can you believe how far you have come since 2010?
Justin: “It is funny; I definitely cannot believe it! I think the more you achieve, the more your ambition grows. But when you think back to what we were thinking when we started the band, it is crazy. I think we all can’t believe it!
Looking ahead; what does 2016 hold for The Vaccines?
Justin: “I think we are going to obviously play more shows, but not here in the UK. I think these will be our last ones in the UK. And then we will just work on another record I think. I think we just want to get on and do that.”
Your latest single ‘Give Me A Sign’ is out now. Just how popular has the reaction been from your fans on this track?
Justin: “Yeah, I mean ‘Give Me A Sign’ is a very different song for the Vaccines. A lot of things from ‘English Graffiti’ is different sounding. So I think for a lot of people, it is a very transitional record. I think it might take a while for some people to get their heads around, but we love it. At the heart of everything we do, there are these great pop songs, so in that respect, I don’t think it is that different from ‘If You Wanna’ or ‘Wetsuit’.”
Football now; how and when did you start supporting your football clubs?
Árni: “I started just because I got invited to a game. I’m from a country [Iceland] that is so rubbish at football, nobody really cares about it. Or I certainly didn’t when I lived there. But when I moved over here, it sort of came apparent that I had to have at least a tiny bit of opinion [on football]. So somebody took me to White Hart Lane. And he took me again and again and again; so by now I have probably been to more games than I have seen on TV. Which is great!”
Justin: “My dad told me to support Southampton when I was like four or five-years-old. But there was just something about them that I didn’t want to. So I sort of waited to discover another team and I saw this kid on Newsround on CBBC collecting Manchester United shirts. I saw the shirt and thought it just looked so cool. I loved it, I loved everything about it – the green and gold shirt. Then there was the classic red home shirt with the big white collar. So I just chose them because they were the only other team I had heard of and just got lucky!”
Do you still remember your first-ever football match?
Árni: “I mean I only moved here four years ago [Laughs], so I hope so!”
Justin: “Yeah, the first-ever football match I went to was Manchester City versus Southampton on New Year’s Day back in 1994, I think! Then the first Manchester United game I went to, United lost 6-3. They changed kits at half-time because they were wearing the grey kit in the first-half, changed at half-time and never wore that kit again! Then the second time I saw them, they lost 3-1. The third time I saw them, they lost 1-0. Because my brother and my dad support Southampton, even now I go and watch Manchester United and Southampton. So I went with them to Old Trafford last year and we lost! So I don’t think I have ever seen United beat Southampton… [Laughs].”
Last season; Manchester United finished fourth, their highest finish since Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign. Do you think Louis van Gaal is the right man to lead your club back to the top of the table?
Justin: “I think you are now just in that situation where you kind of have to readjust your mindset as a Manchester United fan and realise that there is never going to be another Sir Alex Ferguson. There is never going to be an obvious solution. I think that if not van Gaal, then who? You look at his credentials and on paper, you can’t really argue with them. There is only three or four undeniably brilliant managers out there at the moment. Like I say, I think you almost just have to accept that we are never going to have the same level of stability or assurances that we used to have. There are things I like about him [van Gaal] and things I don’t like about him, but I definitely think we are doing well enough, he should be given time. We are improving! I mean we spent so much money, that I hope we are improving. But yeah, I like him.”
What are your realistic expectations of Manchester United this campaign? Can they really win their 14th Premier League title?
Justin: “I mean just looking at the way [Manchester] City are playing at the moment… I said last year that we would finish second next year and then the year after we will win the league. I just made that up! There is no base behind that, no logic behind that. I mean it is really close at the moment. It still feels like we are at that part of the season where everyone still feels like they are pulling off the grid, but I don’t really know what is going to happen.”
What was your reaction to signing 19-year-old Anthony Martial for £36m?
Justin: “It was a ridiculous amount of money! But I like him. He had a good debut. I can never say his name! But I haven’t watched him play in a full game yet, so I don’t know. But it is a scary amount of money!”
Árni: “Thirty-six million for a 19-year-old! That is crazy.”
Wayne Rooney has struggled in front of goal at club level this term. Are you confident your captain will return to some sort of goalscoring form soon?
Justin: “I mean you never know. I almost feel like his role has shifted now that he is captain and that there is less emphasis on him scoring so many goals. I think he is a great leader, a great playmaker and Rooney is one of my favourite players. I love everything about him. So a man of his talent, you would think so.”
At the back, Chris Smalling looks to have come of age and really shone for the Red Devils this season. How impressed have you been by his progression?
Justin: “Honestly, I have not been Chris Smalling’s biggest fan. It has always been a bit daunting when I see him in the starting eleven. But I think that is a position that you grow into, it is a position where you get better with experience – that sounds really cliché! But yeah, this season he has been marginally better and I am willing to have my mind changed.”
What have you made of the club’s handling of goalkeeper Victor Valdes?
Justin: “Yeah that has been really strange! I think it is just a sign of van Gaal’s stubbornness and it is just strange. I honestly just don’t really understand it. He is still a great goalkeeper.”
How relieved were you to keep hold of David De Gea from Real Madrid’s grasps over the summer?
Justin: “I was massively relieved! He is our best player potentially. But my honest opinion is that his contract extension is probably just a Christmas bonus for Manchester United. It wouldn’t be a surprise to me if he was out of the door by the New Year.”
You face Manchester City this weekend. What are you expecting from this season’s first derby clash?
Justin: “I think City will win! I think they are on fire. United at the moment; I watch them and it is not very sexy. They kind of have good weeks and bad weeks, good halves and bad halves. I just don’t think they are reliable enough at the moment to beat City. I think City just feel so clinical and they just cannot stop scoring either, that is the other thing. Let’s see how Smalling fares against them!”
Tottenham now; this is also Mauricio Pochettino’s second season in charge of his club. Are you convinced the Argentine is the right man for the job?
Árni: “I am really glad that he is still there. After so many bad decisions with other people coming in and out of the door, having some stability for more than one season is probably for the best. He is a good manager. I am very happy that he is there and I hope he is going to [stay], I hope he is not going to be kicked out when we fail to get into the Champions League. That seems to be some sort of God given right that Spurs need to have, despite the fact that that we have only done it once.”
Given that Spurs finished fifth last season, do you think Tottenham are capable of pushing on and breaking into the top-four this campaign?
Árni: “I think, as a Spurs fan, I shouldn’t get my hopes up! At the start of the season, it was just so bad. So that just sort of killed all of my hopes and therefore now there might actually be a chance because nobody is hoping for anything anymore.”
Consigned to the Europa League once again this campaign. Would you like to see Tottenham go all out to win the competition, or focus more on the league?
Árni: “I would love to see Tottenham go out and win it. I would just like to see Spurs go and win games [Laughs]! I don’t really care who they are playing.”
How much did you enjoy watching Harry Kane last season?
Árni: “Yeah, it was sort of a once in a lifetime thing. It doesn’t happen often and I think there is just a really unfortunate pressure that he is under now. He is still a great player, but people just expect him to score every other second and I think it is quite unfair.”
Why hasn’t Kane been able to rediscover his goalscoring form at club level?
Árni: “I was there when he scored his only goal [against Manchester City]! I think he will find it. I think it is just going to take a little bit of relaxing back into it.”
Dele Alli is receiving many plaudits. Have you been surprised by the summer signing’s rise to fame at White Hart Lane?
Árni: “He has just been a really exciting addition! From what I have seen, he has been an incredibly reliable presence considering his age and experience.”
The January transfer window will soon be upon us. If you were manager of your respected club, who would you realistically like to sign?
Justin: “I would like more reliability in terms of centre-backs. But I would probably just go for a Hollywood signing. Maybe like [Philipp] Lahm? Actually no! I would probably go for [Robert] Lewandowksi! He is my favourite player this season.”
Árni: “I actually just want to see more of the current starting eleven. I would like to see them for the rest of the season at least. We need to just stop messing with it for now. There has been so many terrible signings at Spurs over the last few years.”
Justin: “I would have [Cristiano] Ronaldo back!”
If you were allowed to sign one player from the opposite team (i.e. Justin from Spurs and Árni from United), who would it be and why?
Justin: “I would take Harry Kane. I think he is a great little player.”
Árni: “Who would I take? Well, if you would take Harry Kane away from me… I don’t know. Who would you not like me to take away?”
Justin: “Well one of my favourite players at the moment at United is [Juan] Mata. I love Mata! I just love everything about him. I love that he has got a degree [Laughs]!”
Árni: “I would take [David] De Gea just to annoy you!”
Who is your all-time favourite manager and why?
Justin: “I mean mine is pretty easy! Sir Alex Ferguson. I don’t think that needs any explaining.”
Árni: “My all-time favourite manager… Well, since I knew of Spurs, there has been like 17 [managers] in the last four years. But I’m hoping it will be [Mauricio] Pochettino!”
Who is your favourite current player and why?
Justin: “I just love Mata! I just think when he is good, he is just brilliant.”
Árni: “Hugo Lloris. He is quite fun to watch. He just goes for everything! He can make like really horrible mistakes, but even with his mistakes, he saves a lot of games.”
As football fans, do you or the other band mates get competitive with any fantasy football team selections or mini-leagues?
Justin: “No, actually. The other guys don’t really care about football. There are certain members in our crew who are very passionate; like we have got a couple of very passionate Celtic fans and historically a passionate couple of Spurs fans, who get more competitive. But within the band; no we are pretty relaxed.”
If you had to pick a professional player to represent your footballing ability. Who would it be and why?
Justin: “We try and play quite a lot on tour actually, although not so much recently. But that is probably my favourite thing to do, play football.”
Árni: “Oh, well mine wouldn’t be a professional player!”
Justin: “Mine would be obviously [Lionel] Messi [Laughs]! Well, I am very messy. I would play left-back, so that is probably a bad choice.”
Árni: “I don’t really play at all, I am terrible. I normally only play when somebody needs a body on the pitch.”