So What If They’re Posh – Let’s Judge The Vaccines For The Right Reasons

The Vaccines grace the cover of the new issue. Here, Features Editor Mike Williams explains why they’ve been misunderstood

I could start by bleating on about how wonderfully working class I am, but I’m not going to, because a) it would be really fucking boring, b) I’ve exhausted that argument (just ask Deputy Editor Martin), and c) you honestly couldn’t care less.


Trust me, I know how you feel. It’s the same way that I feel every time I read a feature kicking the shit out of The Vaccines just because they have the very un-rock n roll distinction of being, well, a bit posh. I mean come on, who’s bothered? Not me. I blame Jesus. Well, Jesus and Joe Strummer.

Jesus, lest we forget, was born in a shed full of horse shit to a carpenter and a housewife and had no formal education. Strummer, on the other hand, was born to a landowner’s daughter and a foreign diplomat (called Ronald) and went to public school.

By the time Jesus was 24, he’d fed five thousand people with a multipack of tuna and a couple of old loaves and proved that being skint and calling a man who you know not to be your father ‘dad’ was no hindrance to getting ahead in the wizarding world.

Strummer, at 24, released a generation-defining record – the self-titled debut from The Clash. Both men have been revered – however misguidedly – as gods ever since.

It’s hardly a new argument, but one that seems to be relevant again this week as The Vaccines release their debut album ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines’ and grace the cover of NME for the second time this year (the first being their battle for new band supremacy with Working Class Zeroes Brother on our Radar issue front page way back in January).


Then, as now, The Vaccines represented something of a wake up slap to British guitar music, hence the hype. The 84 second blast of debut single ‘Wrecking Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ shook with the nonchalant punky swagger of The Strokes, and justified the early puff.

But as soon as people found out they’d grown up in ruby-encrusted castles in London, they were suddenly wankers who couldn’t play their instruments, had no tunes, and were just another example of evil major label machinations – ‘let’s give the stupid public a punk band. But a privately educated one who won’t piss in swimming pools or swear on the telly’.

The truth is, The Vaccines have paid their dues. At 15 Freddie Cowan was playing guitar in teen rockers The Daze. Bassist Arni Hjorvar and drummer Pete Robertson toured heavily on the sessions circuit, honing their skills.

And lead singer Justin Young? Well, Justin’s first incarnation was as the loathsome sulky folk troubadour JJ Pistolet. Seriously, I really fucking hated JJ Pistolet. Not because he was posh, but because he was dull, po-faced and had no tunes.

Luckily for him, they’re the last things you could say about his new band The Vaccines.

To borrow from Sarah Silverman, “I don’t care if you think I’m racist. I just want you to think I’m thin.” Please, let’s judge The Vaccines for the right reasons.

The Vaccines, ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines’ – album review

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