With the city’s biggest music festival just around the corner, we spoke with The Vaccines bassist Árni Árnason about the band’s re-shuffle, re-group, and their triumphant return to the stage as Clockenflap veterans on Sunday, November 11.
What was your Clockenflap experience like, back in 2014?
Clockenflap was a great festival. The last time I was there it was the tail end of the Umbrella Revolution, and me and a couple of other people went down to the camp and spent the day chatting. That was a really memorable thing to do. Obviously, that experience won’t be repeated but it was really unique, and left a really lasting impression.
Did you manage to see much else of the city?
We were in and out; that’s the downside of touring and the festival circuit. You don’t get much time off.
How did the new album, Combat Sports, get its name?
Until the very last minute, it was supposed to be called something entirely different, but we changed our minds really late in the process. It’s kind of a reference to a lyric off the record. That’s something we’ve done on every album up to this point. It was something that was really visceral and really powerful and primal, and that was something that we felt suited the album better. It also looks fantastic on a t-shirt.
There were more songs recorded than made the album. How did you decide what made the cut?
We’ve always done this. On every album, we’ve written a shit ton more than what ended up on the record, so that wasn’t necessarily new. But what was different this time around is that we had written three or four different albums, and we didn’t seem to agree what the band was supposed to be or what it should sound like. It took us a while to get to that. Writing all this other stuff brought us to that process.
Has the new lineup affected the band’s sound?
We started writing this album before we had new members. I think part of the reason why Pete quit and why we ended up sounding like The Vaccines again is we were kind of stuck in a rut. We needed something to shake us, to remind us what we were doing and what we were good at and not good at. Tim had been around for years prior to that. He and Yoann kind of walked into a reinvigorated Vaccines.
And how did you know the band had found its sound?
When you’ve become the band that other bands can imitate, that’s when you’ve found yourself.
What’s it been like touring the record?
It’s been a bit weird. We started touring the UK back in March and April, but that was before the album came out. It just felt like touring a few new songs, but a couple of them went down really well. We only really started to tour the album a couple of weeks ago, which feels a bit late since the album has been out for six months. We’re just enjoying playing it. It brings everything full circle.
If you were to pick a favourite track off the new record, what would it be?
Currently, I would probably say Nightclub, and that’s because we’re opening with it. There’s a 95 percent likelihood it will be the same for Hong Kong.
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