Q&A: The Vaccines’ Justin Young On Teenage Cancer Trust Gig And New Album

Justin Young, lead rabble-rouser in The Vaccines, on the indie giants’ upcoming Teenage Cancer Trust gig.

How do you feel about playing a Teenage Cancer Trust charity gig?
Justin: “We’re excited for many reasons. I think it’s an institution now because of where it is and what it’s for and who’s involved and it’s something obviously we’ve admired and appreciated from afar before. So it’s an absolute honour to be asked to play – and to play at the Royal Albert Hall too. It’s a no-brainer really.”

Does the Royal Albert Hall hold any significance for you?
“I’ve never played there before. This is going to be my first time. It’s an incredibly beautiful venue so this is a bucket list moment.”

Have you met organiser Roger Daltrey before? Are you worried he might have read that you said Florence and The Machine should have headlined Glastonbury over The Who last summer?
“No! I think I’m entitled to an opinion. I’ve never met him, but I think if you grow up in the UK playing rock music, it goes part and parcel with appreciating and being inspired by The Who, you know.”

How is the new album coming along?
“We’re in the studio today. We’re really just starting now. We’ve got a bunch of songs we’re excited about. There’s always been an ambition with this band to be better every time we make a new record and push ourselves. Nobody could accuse us of making the same record twice.”

How does it differ from ‘English Graffiti’?
“It’s going to be a masterpiece, I’ve no doubt about that – is that what you want me to say? (Laughs) One of our biggest regrets with ‘English Graffiti’ was it was written over such a long period of time and we kept on having breaks in between sessions, so I think if I could level any against criticism against it, it’s that it sounds quite disparate. So the aim with this one is to try and write in a more concise period of time and have an album with more focus and cohesion. Lyrically, ‘English Graffiti’ looked outwards towards the world – there’s a lot of self-reflection and self-loathing thus far in this one.”

Will you be debuting any new material at the Teenage Cancer Trust gig?
“There’s a 50/50 chance. We were really close to playing new music when we toured the UK in November. We were playing a new song in soundcheck every night and then didn’t have the guts to pull it off.”

Guitarist Freddie Cowan has launched his own clothing range – do you have any side-projects in the pipeline?
No, I’m not trying to pull a Kanye! I’m always working on music with other people, but nothing of a sartorial nature.”

Did you watch Kanye’s livestream?
“I didn’t. I was playing a show in Russia at the time, so I missed it. I’m obviously a Kanye fan. I was actually going to sign up to Tidal to listen to the album, but then he pulled it down. Freddie’s been raving about it.”

Tickets for The Vaccines are available now, will be supported by Everything Everything, Pumarosa, and a DJ set from Tom Furse from The Horrors.