Viva Brother’s Lee Newell – Christmas Q&A

Lee Newell chats about gigging in Japan, pizza-gifting fans and his crush on Chloë Sevigny.

So, what are your Christmas plans?
I was just talking about that. I’ve been invited by my parents to spend Christmas in the Cotswolds with them and my grandparents and it sounds so thrilling. So I’ve got that to look forwards to, but there’s always Christmas Eve.

Highlight of the year?
There’s just been so many, there’s not one thing that sticks out, it’s all a bit of a blur. One thing I guess was going over to Japan and playing over there, plus having an album out and just putting yourself out there and existing.

And any lowlights?
Plenty. Having to change our name wasn’t exactly the most exciting thing – in fact I’m still fucking bitter about it. It’s like someone dancing on your grave; you cant do anything about it. Sometimes I look at our name and see negative connotations. To me it just seems like a bit of a battle scar.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened in 2011?
When we were playing in Providence in the States this guy came up and was like “I’m a really big fan, I’ve got a present for you. I’ve got 26 smoked pizza bases”. And I was like “Alright… What do you mean by smoked?” “Well, I do it myself in the oven, they’re delicious, you can cook them on the bus it’ll be perfect”. It’s like “Yeah, alright, I’ll cook them on the bus in our stone bake oven. Nice one…”. He said he was going to watch the first song and then go and get them and bring them back. I mean, maybe watch the whole set and then… don’t? He did bring them, I didn’t try them though because weirdly we didn’t have the means to cook a pizza on the bus. He also said “If you give me your address I’ll post some over because they’re just as delicious from frozen”. I didn’t give him my address…

And the most embarrassing thing?
Pretty much every picture caption NME puts under a photo of me. I’ve noticed that when you print a picture of me it’s of the most outrageous singing face and you’ll just put “That’s Lee here, being a cunt”, “Here’s Lee in his brand new Ray Bans”. This one’ll be “Look at Lee… not as big as The Vaccines”.

Well, now you’ve just given us ideas. What’s your best New Year’s Eve party memory?
My memory has absolutely gone to shit this year, I really need to detox or something, I’m really worried that my brain’s fried. Erm… well last year I went to a party and tried to dress as James Bond, looked a bit more like James May and ended up staying up for about three days. This year I think we’re gonna do something with The Wombats – they’re always up for a laugh.

Lee from Viva Brother, in his Ray Bans, thinking about The Vaccines

Who’s your hero and villain of the year?
Me, for both.

Who would you want to meet under the mistletoe?
That’s very Teen Vogue of you. I don’t know really… I really like Chloë Sevigny, even though she’s not particularly attractive there’s something about her.

And now truces have been called, would you want to have a festive tipple with Liam?
I don’t think there was ever anything there, I don’t think we’re much of a threat to him but I’m sure we’ll one day share some mulled wine and he can talk about all the albums he’s sold and I’ll talk about the albums I’m yet to sell…