The Vaccines’ Justin Young: ‘It frustrates me when people can’t see how good I am at writing songs’

Frontman says he wants band to be as big as U2, Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys and Muse

The Vaccines frontman Justin Young has spoken to NME about the band’s ambitions for their new album.

The band’s new record ‘English Graffiti’ is out this week, their third full-length to date, following 2012’s ‘Come Of Age’ and 2011 debut ‘What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?’. Speaking to NME in this week’s print issue, available digitally and on newsstands now, Young described the LP as being born from a “desire to have no limits”, describing its predecessor as “not great within the wider context of music and music history”.

READ: NME album review of The Vaccines’ ‘English Graffiti’


Having toned down a previous incarnation of the album, which Young claims would have seen the group commit “suicide – commercial and creative suicide”, the band say they tried to be more honest and personal, as well as universal.

“I firmly believe that the more personal you are in your songwriting, the more universal you are,” Young told NME. “It’s really frustrating to me when I hear people being disingenuous and faking it. And it makes me incredibly frustrated when people can’t see how honest I am and how good I am at writing songs, or writing lyrics about very personal things.”

Young, who previously recorded under the name Jay Jay Pistolet and has written songs with One Direction, added: “I could write 100 songs a day because melody just comes to me and it’s very cathartic getting that out. I’m a songwriter. I wake up in the morning and want to write a song, and I’d love to write a Number One for someone.”

Of his ambitions for the band, Young said he feared the band were perceived as a “one-hit wonder” and were “not going to be popular for 50 years”. He continued: “I look at a band like Arctic Monkeys and think, ‘I want to be as big as them’, but I also look at Muse and Coldplay and Mumford & Sons and U2 and The Rolling Stones and fucking Imagine Dragons and think, I want to be as big as them, too.”

Addressing potential criticism of such bold statements, Young said: “I think the best thing about the internet is it’s levelled the playing field and everyone has a voice,” adding: “But that’s also the worst thing about it. All these people writing comments under news stories on NME.COM are the kind of people who were writing in to Points Of View 20 years ago. It’s so easy, and it’s a victimless crime – they can say what they want and there’s no recourse. Most people probably shouldn’t have a voice.”

“Sometimes I think I’m too clever to say anything interesting,” Young claimed, admitting that he often deletes social media posts out of fear over negative responses. He added: “I don’t have that abandon, in the way that someone like Liam [Gallagher] doesn’t worry about what he says.”


Justin Young recently criticised Glastonbury’s booking of The Who for this year’s final headline act. He told Digital Spy: “The Who are such a safe booking. I would’ve had Florence headline. I know she’s playing anyway, but people are complaining about the lack of women at the top of festival bills and the lack of new artists.”

The Vaccines recently covered One Direction’s ‘Night Changes’ for Radio 1’s Live Lounge. Watch their rendition here.