Wonderland.

The Vamps

Redefining the ‘boy-band’ and doing overtime at the O2.

All clothing PEPE JEANS, jewellery ARTIST’S OWN

A sushi based complication means by the time Wonderland sits down with The Vamps the British four-piece are two rounds of Nando’s deep. A unique beast of a pop rock band comprised of Bradley Will Simpson, James McVey, Tristan Evans and Connor Ball (an introduction no doubt unnecessary to their collective 11.5 million social media followers), within minutes of our meeting they’re referencing Kurupt FM, later conFIrming that the Teletubbies are on tour in Toronto; properly modern pop stars, if you will.

Marrying McFly’s edge with the gloss of One Direction, they’re the kind of band who deliver variety, their list of collaborators stretching from former Disney star Demi Lovato to Indian duo Vishal-Shekhar, and Norwegian DJ Matoma. Elsewhere they’re hip enough to have a selfie with Sadiq Khan and have filmed at Frank’s Café in Peckham, still sweet enough to have released a bulk of pocket money priced tickets—£9.50 a pop—for their UK arena tour in 2015.

Now with two albums, a record label and an official autobiography to their name—they head out on tour in support of LP number three tomorrow—a mealtime interruption seemed the necessary action to learn a little more.

You’ve played the O2 11 times in three years, can that be right?

Tristan: I swear it’s more.

And did any of you go when it was the Millennium Dome?

Tristan: I did yeah, it was big and juicy.

Juicy? Umm… So touring, best and worst bits?

Tristan: Traffic to the O2.
Bradley: I think it’s hard being away from family and loved ones and home comforts as well, sometimes you’re on tour and you can’t eat well, or you get into a routine of doing things which isn’t very us, so a champagne problem, it’s not the end of the world.
Tristan: A Champagne Steam Rooms problem.
Bradley: And then I think the best thing is you get to see a lot of new places that you—all four of us—have dreamed of seeing, for example across America and touring Europe and south America; I think we’ve ticked a lot of places off the bucket list.

Where’s left on the list?

James: New Zealand, which we’re hoping to go to this year, and Mexico, never been there, well two of the boys have, and then China and Alaska would be awesome, something like that or the Arctic Circle.

So last year you released your autobiography, Our Story. What inspired it?

Bradley: I think we had had enough time as a band to have a story to tell, it felt like it was a nice time to put something out that was in our own words— we’d done a lot of interviews and a lot of press over the period of the band leading into the book, and you don’t really get to tell the full story, so, I know it’s kind of cliché being ‘our story’, but it is.
James: 2016 felt like a good time to reflect on everything because we felt like we’d done a lot of the stuff we’d wanted to do, like we had our second album out and our second arena tour, so we wanted to do something new.

You’ve spent a lot of time in America over the last five years, why do you think breaking the States is so important for many British artists?

Tristan: I don’t know if it’s important, it’s obviously a massive market for music but I think we just like it in general as a place, the fans are amazing over there for us, so it’s nice to just try and spread our music as much as we can.

All clothing PEPE JEANS, jewellery ARTIST’S OWN

All clothing PEPE JEANS, jewellery ARTIST’S OWN

You’ve spoken previously about Justin Bieber’s influence on the music industry, which other artists do you think are having a similar affect today?

James: Taylor (Swift) did a lot in 2014, then Justin again, and now people like The Chainsmokers are doing a lot.
Connor: DJs in general are really shaking the music industry up.
Bradley: It’s nice to see Shawn (Mendes) put through as a guitar driven artist, like a young Ed Sheeran almost, because obviously Ed Sheeran’s been about for a few years now, so it’s good to see a young guitar driven artist doing really well on a commercial scale as well.

You’ve previously shown doubts about the term ‘boy-band’ as a descriptor for The Vamps. Why is it important for you to make a distinction between typical boy-bands and what you do?

James: I think at the start it was strange to us because when we were like 16/17, in our heads we were the next AC/DC. We looked up to people like McFly and we toured with them and I think in our heads—Brad and I loved The Kooks—we were probably quite naïve, we just started doing covers. To us we were just us on our own and then people started calling us a boy-band and it took a while for us to start thinking, ‘Oh okay, we get it, we actually are.’ In our heads we were just a band, but now because we’ve been doing it for five years, it’s one of those things we’ve learnt to live with and it doesn’t really affect us. I think because we’ve been releasing music for a quite a while now, we’ve grown to accept that we know what we’re doing and we’d actually prefer that people call us that than not listen to our music at all.
Bradley: I think one thing we always say is, call us whatever you like, but come along to a show and decide what you want to call us after a show, because I think they’re the best platform for us to show who we really are as a band.

All clothing PEPE JEANS, jewellery ARTIST’S OWN

So your label Steady Records, where did the moniker come from?

Bradley: It’s just a weird in-joke.

Oh.

Tristan: It’s very weird.

Gotcha. So why’s it important for you to use your platform in this way?

James: We wanted to help people who were like us when we were 15/16, so New Hope Club is a band that we’ve signed—they’re very similar to how we were like four or five years ago. We’d just like to, hopefully, share some of our experience with them because I think that when we were 15/16, it was all new, so we’re going to try and teach them a few things that we’ve learnt.

And what’s the best thing about having your own label?

Bradley: I think it’s nice because young artists who are incredibly talented, who just have a passion for music or a talent in a certain area can get tarnished, like their age can almost tarnish and overshadow their talent. And people tend to just write them off because they’re young, or they’ll instantly be [like], ‘Oh boy-band,’ and push them into a certain lane, and I don’t necessarily think that’s bad whatsoever, but I don’t think they get the nurturing they deserve. I think there is something to be said for a really young artist trying, not necessarily to shift the pop teen thing, but to encourage it and make it and own it almost. Sometimes I think that people in the industry in general can be like, ‘Oh they’re young they’re doing pop music,’ but I think for us, we did it and we’ve had the experiences we’ve always dreamed of, and for us it’s nice to be able to help people doing the same thing.

Sign us up?

Taken from the Summer 17 Issue of Wonderland; out now and available to buy here.

Photography
Daniel Ciufo
Fashion
Thomas Ramshaw
Words
Zoe Whitfield
Videography
Tashoma Vilini
Hair
Eliot McQueen using L'Oreal Professional
Makeup
Roberta Kearsey using CHANEL Les Indispensables de L'Ete and CHANEL Hydra Beauty Micro Creme
Photography Assistant
Shaun Bransgrove
Fashion Assistant
Louise Hall
The Vamps

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