The Vaccines

The Vaccines

DIIV, San Cisco

Thu, January 31, 2013

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Terminal 5

New York, NY

This event is all ages

The Vaccines
The Vaccines
Soon after the release of the debut album, "What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?," Justin Young and his band-mates wrote a track named Teenage Icon. "I'm no teenage icon/I'm no Frankie Avalon," it says. "I'm not magnetic or mythical/I'm suburban and typical."

The song is now the centrepiece of The Vaccines' second album, set for release just 18 months after that March 2011 debut. But if Justin and co still feel "suburban and typical", they certainly don't seem it. To look at them in their latest incarnation; longhaired, denim-clad, more confident than before, is to see a proper gang of four: Young plus bassist Arni Arnason, guitarist Freddie Cowan and drummer Pete Robertson. Teenage icons -- whether they like it or not.

"The biggest headfuck of all is the fact that people have an opinion of me as a human being -- not as a singer or songwriter, but as a human being," says Young, musing on the point. "It's so weird to think of people talking negatively about me or even hero-worshipping. A year ago I could have met said people in the pub and become friends with them but they'll already have an opinion of me now before we meet..."

But a lot can happen in a year. Formed in West London in 2010, The Vaccines were selling out venues nationwide by December. They released their debut the following spring and have since released two standalone singles, three EPs, a live album and the forthcoming follow-up album "The Vaccines Come Of Age."

"What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?" propelled the band into the spotlight -- going platinum by the end of the year -- and saw them end 2011 with two headline shows at London's Brixton Academy. By the spring of 2012 the band had amassed awards (including an NME award for 'Best New Artist'), nominations (including at the Brits), 3 NME covers, 6 straight Radio 1 A-list singles and a sold-out a run of U.K. seaside arena shows.

It's a rocket-fuelled rise that's left critics and cynics eating their words, even if those words have stuck with the band. "When we first started talking to the press, I think we were quite timid," says Young. "We were being forced to defend ourselves because it was happening so quickly for us. I think people were suspicious. We're so confident in what we do though. And we turned the hypothetical situation into something real. We won."

The attitude shift came at 2011's summer festivals. "We'd done festivals all around the world and not really at home. 46 I think," says Young. "I remember saying to our tour manager backstage at our first UK festival, is there anyone out there? He just said, Listen! And I could hear about 20,000 people chanting our name. It felt bigger than anything anyone could say."

While everything was falling into place, however, Justin's future as a singer was in jeopardy. He developed hemorrhaging on his vocal chords, requiring surgery three times last year. "It was cruel, but life is like that," says Young, who was left unable to speak for three weeks and sing for five after each operation, resorting to using flash cards saying 'yes', 'no' and 'I can't speak'. "Emotionally and socially, that was quite an interesting experiment. I spent my first date with my girlfriend communicating with a notepad. It still scares the shit out of me though -- if I take it too far on a night out or I get a bit too overexcited in a show, I know it may be my last. The silver lining is my voice has more character as a result. I think that's where the softness on the new record comes from."

If anything, the experience has put even more wind in the band's sails. Young and his band mates collected over 150 songs during 2011, written in hotel rooms from Tokyo to New York and Sydney. If The Vaccines's work rate seems unusually high, note that they don't judge themselves against their contemporaries; they judge themselves against the prolific pop groups of the past. It's one reason why they found themselves recording "...Come Of Age" live. Some tracks were cut in just one take. "You think back to when people were paying for two or three hours in the studio. It was, OK -- go!" says Young. ''Bands make records and then work out how to play them. We wanted to do it the other way round. It feels purer.''

Producer Ethan Johns was the man charged with capturing lightning in a bottle. "He felt like an old-fashioned producer -- an instiller of confidence," says Young. "He only cares that it sounds exciting. The songs were only ever finished when he said the hairs on his arms were standing up."

They recorded in Belgium and Bath, stopping to play in Brazil, at Coachella and in New York. In Belgium they worked solidly, breaking only for one night out (they went to a gay bowling night, FYI). At the studio, there were banks of guitars and amps available but Young chose to use his own axe -- a cheap Danelectro he bought on Denmark Street for £180. Like his songs, it's honest, sturdy and deceptively simple.

The album shows the band's songwriting and performance entering a new phase. If the debut was them finding a sound somewhere between The Ramones, Jesus & Mary Chain and The Strokes, the latest, says Young, is them striving to "sound like The Vaccines. We needed to work out which characteristics are going to make people compare bands to The Vaccines in five or ten years time. It's quite a searching record in that sense." It means there's a spotlight thrown on Cowan's 50s influenced guitars, Robertson's pounding drums and Arnason's pulsing basslines.

Highlights include the groove-driven "Bad Mood," the timeless "Lonely World" and the new wave-influenced "Aftershave Ocean," one of the more recent tracks that hint at where The Vaccines may head in the future.

The title -- "The Vaccines Come Of Age" -- is tongue-in-cheek, but only a little. "It's a lyric from the album's first single, which is how we named 'What Did You Expect...,' and it continues the theme of having the band's name in the title," explains Young. "Then there's the whole coming of age thing. The lyric is "it's hard to come of age," and that thought ties together the record. I'm bang in the middle of my 20s and I'm finding it to be quite a difficult place to be. You're expected to know what you want to do and who you want to be at this point, but I don't know who I am yet. Everyone I know is in a different place -- some have it all figured out, some have bad problems, some are parents, some are living with their parents, some are earning money, some are broke. I guess I still feel like I'm a kid. Recently I've found myself realising that a lot of my favourite music is no longer talking to me, but people younger than me. And that is a strange realisation."

On the album sleeve, The Vaccines really are kids: it sees the four band members replaced by four androgynous, teenage girls. "People said The Vaccines don't look like rock stars, so we thought, OK, have these girls instead. I wanted them to look androgynous. You can't tell who they are. They're at a time in their lives when they probably don't know either. And of course they're a gang," says Young. One of the four stand-ins, who have appeared in The Vaccines' videos too, will appear on the cover of each of the singles from "...Come Of Age," and the B-side will be written and sung by the individual band member represented on the sleeve.

Though they may claim not be teenage icons, The Vaccines have reset their expectations for this album. "I want to mean something to somebody," says Young. "I want to keep getting better and better, and if bigger and bigger is a by-product of that, then that's fucking awesome. Quite simply, I want us to be your favourite band."
DIIV
DIIV
DIIV is the nom-de-plume of Z. Cole Smith, musical provocateur and front-man of an atmospheric and autumnally-charged new Brooklyn four-piece.
Recently inked to the uber-reliable Captured Tracks imprint, DIIV created instant vibrations in the blog-world with their impressionistic debut Sometime; finding it’s way onto the esteemed pages of Pitchfork and Altered Zones a mere matter of weeks after the group’s formation.
Enlisting the aid of NYC indie-scene-luminary, Devin Ruben Perez, former Smith Westerns drummer Colby Hewitt, and Mr. Smith’s childhood friend Andrew Bailey, DIVE craft a sound that is at once familial and frost-bitten. Indebted to classic kraut, dreamy Creation-records psychedelia, and the primitive-crunch of late-80’s Seattle, the band walk a divisive yet perfectly fused patch of classic-underground influence.
One part THC and two parts MDMA; the first offering from DIIV chemically fuses the reminiscent with the half-remembered building a musical world out of old-air and new breeze. These are songs that remind us of love in all it’s earthly perfections and perversions.
A lot of DIIV’s magnetism was birthed in the process Mr. Smith went through to discover these initial compositions. After returning from a US tour with Beach Fossils, Cole made a bold creative choice, settling into the window-facing corner of a painter’s studio in Bushwick, sans running water, holing up to craft his music.
In this AC-less wooden room, throughout the thick of the summer, Cole surrounded himself with cassettes and LP’s, the likes of Lucinda Williams, Arthur Russell, Faust, Nirvana, and Jandek; writings of N. Scott Momaday, James Welsh, Hart Crane, Marianne Moore, and James Baldwin; and dreams of aliens, affection, spirits, and the distant natural world (as he imagined it from his window facing the Morgan L train).
The resulting music is as cavernous as it is enveloping, asking you to get lost in it’s tangles in an era that demands your attention be focused into 140 characters.
“Sometime” hit stores on October 11th with a second single to follow November 29, culminating in an early March EP release.
San Cisco
San Cisco
Coming out of the small Australian coastal resort of Fremantle, a beautiful town nestling in the shadow of Perth's gleaming monoliths and separated from the more fashionable parts of Oz by thousands of miles of red dirt, you might expect the music of San Cisco to be limited in vision, comprising flimsy surf-ditties extolling the ephemeral pleasures of sun, surf and sex. You would be wrong, however. For while it would be untrue to claim that the unholy trinity of sex, sun and sea are absent from their songs, on their new album, "Gracetown," the band -- singer Jordi Davieson, Josh Biondillo (guitar), Nick Gardner (bass) and Scarlett Stevens (drums) -- extend their sonic palette to new territories. There is a deeper, chillier feel to songs such as 'Snow' and a looser, funkier feel to ones like 'Jealousy' that signals a new sophistication and maturity. Less sun, then, and more muted shades, as well as a deeper exploration of the hormonal tangle that is postmodern sexual politics. If there is a band that better explores the ache, paranoia and oestrogen-rush of young love I don't know it. The album shows San Cisco growing up, and this growing up is scary and magnificent to behold.

San Cisco are not newcomers to the scene, of course. They released their debut self-titled album in 2012 to international acclaim and have toured the world several times since, headlining shows and festival performances such as Lollapalooza, Pukkelpop and Reading. The fruit of this time on the road is reflected in the new sound, and sound which has paid its dues and has a sharpness born of hangovers, air-miles, homesickness and displacement.

The band first touched a global nerve with beguilingly fraught earworms such as 2011's 'Awkward', a song that garnered almost universal critical and popular acclaim. San Cisco's sound at that time approximated to their own definition of 'squelchy, crispy, streamlined, hairy indie', an acknowledgement of the band's eclecticism, embracing as it did a quirky mix of ringing Rickenbacker guitars, pounding rhythms and soulful vocals. Yet there was always more at work than energetic pastiche. Other hits from their 2012 debut such as 'Wild Things' and 'Fred Astaire' managed the trick of being great pop songs that nonetheless contained a hint of menace or madness, something that suggested the band was more interested in classic pop than indie navel-gazing. Their sources of inspiration always came and still come from unlikely sources. Guitarist and songsmith Josh has admitted to a deep love for US satirical cartoon series such as "The Simpsons" and "American Dad," and you can see it in the music. Think a sonic version of Neighbours scripted by the creators of South Park. Think quirky humour, twisted desire and bright colours, and then add danceability. If the original mix was intoxicating the new album is even more so.

On "Gracetown" San Cisco have enlisted the help of producer and long-term collaborator Steven Schram, and the presence of this 'fifth Beatle' is manifest from the first. Schram has furthered the band's experimentation with new styles and textures to great effect. Prior to visiting "The Compound" (studio-home of fellow Fremantle friend and musician John Butler) Josh and Jordi crafted the bones of the album at Rada Studios with friend and musician Matt Gio. Schram then encouraged them to tread boldly where they had not yet gone in sonic terms.

And so to the album itself. The mysteriously titled "Gracetown" is no homage to Paul Simon's 1986 anti-Apartheid opus Graceland, for the band doesn't address a preoccupation with world beats and racism, but rather their own more prosaic roots and backyard. 'Gracetown is a small coastal town in the South West of WA where our families have second homes and where there's an annual music festival,' Josh explains in a Skype interview across a scratchy line. The title is symbolic, he and Jordi say, of a nostalgic fondness for a childhood retreat, one that evokes the "Swallows and Amazons" hedonism shown in the video of their sun-dazed hit 'Golden Revolver' on their debut LP. The new album feels even freer in artistic terms, I say, and they tell me why. 'We're releasing Gracetown on our own label (Island City Records),' explains Jordi. 'So there were no men in suits from the label sitting in on recording sessions and demanding hits. We were in control of all facets of the music, and that was a massive relief. We could do anything we wanted, and we did.'

This freedom extended to matters of look as well as sound and feel. Guitarist Josh explains how the band commissioned the sleeve's eye-catching cover-art from Pete Matulich. He explains that this forms part of the album's self-crafted sensibility, comprising as it does memories, found sounds and serendipitous encounters. This search for 'authenticity and localism' is present in the lyrics too. Jordi explains how the words are rooted in personal experience, either his own or that of those he has closely observed. 'Lyrics must have some truth about them otherwise they're just a bunch of words,' he says flatly. 'I can't just fabricate a scenario. If I make stuff up I can't remember it, and the song falls apart.' His method, he continues, is to 'objectify' the words so they are not too literal but, rather, universal. 'We don't include a lyric sheet in the CD for that reason. We don't want to dictate a response. We want the listener to encounter a song and make it their own, even if they mishear it,' Jordi says with a sparkle in his eye.

When I say that new songs on the album -- songs such as 'Jealousy' (which features Isabella Manfredi from The Preatures), 'Super Slow' and 'Just For A Minute' -- are a massive leap forward in terms of depth and texture both guitarist and singer look humble. Instead of citing contemporary influences they speak of 'golden oldie' artists that inspired them -- Isaac Hayes, The Turtles, The Beatles, Bob Dylan. 'We like timeless, ageless melodies,' Josh explains, 'and a solid groove. We may not have written a classic of our own yet but we are getting closer.' This growing interest in classic song structures shows itself in the new sophistication of the sound, one that tips its cap to disco and soul, funk and hip hop but still remains defiantly its own beast. There is a lushness and sense of space in the new songs that the band once filled with youthful brio, with clattering and frenetic la-la-las. Now there is gorgeous languor and a supple muscularity that pulses under the beat. Jordi's voice, especially when wrapped around drummer Scarlett's or guest vocalist The Preature's Isabella Manfredi's, reveals itself to be what it always promised to be: one of the great soul voices of all time. And yet paradoxically the singer admits to worrying that the well of the global creativity may soon run dry. 'The world is running out of melodies,' he confides in a moment of seriousness, for all the world as if cosmic entropy will consume us before the end of the interview.

Fortunately the band's ease with melody and beat gives an elegant riposte to that fear. Jordi looks up again and grins, showing himself to be no precious artiste and far from the 'narcissist' he feels he might become as the band's fame grows: 'We don't write to fulfill our own musical fantasies,' he says passionately. 'We want to communicate and touch people. We want to write great pop -- there's no shame in that. We don't want to record a hundred year old piano and run it backwards through a shoe just to make a statement. We are entertainers, not artists.'

On the strength of this album the band are both, and there is much to look forward to, for both us and them.
Venue Information:
Terminal 5
610 W 56th St
New York, NY, 10019
http://www.terminal5nyc.com/