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Ordinary Young - The Vaccine's Justin Young
“LOOK AT me, so ordinary, no mystery with no great capability.”
So sings The Vaccines frontman Justin Young on their recent single Teenage Icon, a song written about the fact he’s just another average Joe.
But The Vaccines – the group Young founded after he decided a solo career as Jay Jay Pistolet wasn’t working out for him – have gone from strength to strength since getting together in 2010.
Their recent second album, Come Of Age, narrowly beat fellow Brit guitar band Two Door Cinema Club to the number one spot on the album chart, while the gigs they have booked in for the next six months would embarrass many more established artists. Ordinary Young is not.
“OK, OK,” he concedes, “but the song is about the situation we now find ourselves in – I still go to bed and get up in the morning the same person I always was.
“What happens between those two things might not be as ordinary as it once was, but I’m still the same. And what is normal anyway? It’s all relative I suppose,” says the 25-year-old.
The band are currently touring the UK, stopping at Bournemouth’s 02 Academy tonight, while the rest of the year sees them travel to Europe, then Australia and the United States in the new year. They’ll return in May just in time for another UK tour.
Young doesn’t mind the constant travelling, insisting it’s one of the best things about being in a band.
“I love going to new places and meeting new people,” he says. “I find it all so exciting.
Sometimes we get a bit of time in new places. I’ve spent four or five days at a time in Tokyo, LA and Sao Paolo, but there are other places where you just roll in and roll out, and that’s frustrating.
“Another thing – and I don’t want this to be misconstrued as a moan – is that touring involves a lot of sacrifice. You never see friends, so even when you’re free, people stop phoning you on a Friday night.”
So, the travelling is enjoyable – how about the actual performances? Young loves those too, although that hasn’t always been the case...
“I used to be so uncomfortable on stage,”
he says. “To counter it I just took myself out of the situation. I felt insecure and uptight, but then I thought that if I had been watching someone play to that many people, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it if the frontman was uptight.
Plus, I wouldn’t have been stood there judging it on what the frontman was doing.
I’d just be trying to have a good time, and hoping the band were too.
“I felt uncomfortable pretending to be happy on stage, but ironically it was when I learned that I didn’t have to that I started feeling comfortable.”
Once he made that realisation, Young says he’s enjoyed each show more than the last.
This tour will see the band playing songs from their chart-topping second album Come Of Age. Now it’s been released, Young’s not that interested in it any more, saying that though he’s “proud of it”, he’s moved on.
“We spent so much time on it,” he explains.
“It consumed us. We spent so much time writing and recording and arranging it, and now talking about it, it feels really nice that it’s out there for people to love and hate as they wish.”
“When I hear a song from our first album on the radio now, it’s like it’s a different band, or like our demos. You make so many decisions after recording a song, about how you play it live and so on. It can end up sounding totally different.”
The Vaccines are refreshingly ambitious with their approach to music, with dreams of selling out stadiums and being played on radio stations around the world.
Young says reaching number one in the album chart was a big deal for the band, although he’s fully aware that the charts aren’t the be-all-and-end-all they once were.
“It’s just as important to stay in people’s hearts and minds as it is to do well in the charts, no one wants to just come and go. And look at a band like Arcade Fire, who have never had a Top 40 single in the UK, but they can shift 80,000 tickets to sell out Hyde Park.
“Ultimately, I want the band to become as big as possible, providing that we get better as we get bigger. With Come Of Age, I think we’re on our way to achieving that.”