The Vaccines on their latest record, local haunts, and finding out they’re spending NYE with Toto

Since finding their feet in the tail-end of Britains’ indie wave of the noughties, The Vaccines haven’t slowed down for a minute. The band have thousands of fans and a ton of hits to their name, and we were absolutely thrilled to find out they’d be returning to Aussie shores this year.

Ahead of said tour dates, we had a chat to bassist Árni Árnason about the studio he’s built in London, The Vaccines’ last time in Australia, and more. He was also pretty chuffed to hear he’ll be sharing New Year’s Eve with Toto at Falls Festival.

Árni Árnason the vaccines interview falls festival happy mag

Before The Vaccines check into Australia for a very large NYE at Falls Festival, we find out what Árni Árnason has been up to of late.

HAPPY: Hey Árni, where have I caught you?

ÁRNI: I’m actually in a room out in the north of Iceland, the sun is coming up, it’s very snowy, there’s a frozen lake, and I didn’t even know that I had cellphone reception.

HAPPY: I’ve crammed myself into a car with my laptop, your locale sounds better.

ÁRNI: Whereabouts are you?

HAPPY: I’m in Sydney at the moment.

ÁRNI: Well, there are not many places in the world that get better than that, either!

HAPPY: So first things first here, you’re playing Falls Festival this New Year’s Eve. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this will be your first time in Australia since 2015 or so?

ÁRNI: I think it might be! The last time we went to Australia… I think it might have been with Mumford and Sons actually.

HAPPY: Right.

ÁRNI: Yeah, a few shows with them, probably in 2015. Although to be totally honest, I am the worst for dates. It’s all soup for me, and I think there’s a few times where I can’t remember if the last time somewhere was last week or three years ago.

HAPPY: Fair enough. Falls goes to a few different locations, including Tasmania which is pretty much as far away as you can get from Iceland…

ÁRNI: We’ve been to Tasmania before, which was a couple of years ago, again probably 2014 or 2015. And it was by quite some distance the most memorable New Year’s Eve I’ve had.

HAPPY: Right!

ÁRNI: So I’m very much looking forward to getting there.

HAPPY: I looked up who you’re playing with on NYE and you’re sharing the night with Toto.

ÁRNI: Oh my god!  You just made me the happiest man in the world, that’s amazing.

HAPPY: I didn’t really have a question there… I just thought I’d break that.

ÁRNI: That’s the best thing I’ve heard all day, really.

HAPPY: Cool, man. Moving on I wanted to ask, on Combat Sports you worked with Ross Orton – what made you want to go with him as a producer?

ÁRNI: We tried a few different things and I think Ross is kind of an, outdoor-shit, northern lad, you know? When he got the demos in his hand, we kind of identified the direction that he would take things. We had been coming around for a few months… in the process of making this record we made very many different records by going in many different directions and I think we were just a little bit lost, and Ross guided us through I guess. He kind of lifted us, just told us that we were a much better rock and roll band than we were anything else, so why on earth weren’t we just focussing on that? So working with him was a breath of fresh air.

HAPPY: Was it strange needing to work with a new producer on a sound that, I guess, was your backbone for a lot of people?

ÁRNI: I guess we’ve always worked with different producers, as in we’ve never worked with the same producer twice. I guess no, in all honesty. When you work with a producer you…

[at this point the line drops out and we reconnect shortly]

HAPPY: Are you still based in London?

ÁRNI: Yep.

HAPPY: I heard you built yourself a studio there?

ÁRNI: Yeah, it’s not at my house, it’s at an old candy factory turned squat with lots of cackling teenagers.

HAPPY: When did you build that?

ÁRNI: Well, it’s been a few few years. I’ve probably had a version of this knocking around since forever – I’m actually sharing it with an Australian guy. His name is Joe, he’s a Brisbane dude. What would you call them, Brisbane-ian?

HAPPY: I think it’s something like that. That’s the best we got, anyway! Was that something you built primarily for The Vaccines and yourself, or do you bring other bands in?

ÁRNI: It’s mostly… no The Vaccines don’t really work in there at all, we’ve jammed in there a couple of times but I think the rest of The Vaccines find East London industrial complexes depressing while I think they’re poetry. So I think it’s basically something I’ve used for various other things.

HAPPY: I also heard you still see a lot of local shows around your place in London. If that’s still the case, what’s something you’ve seen recently?

ÁRNI: In all honesty that hasn’t actually happened for a while, because we’ve just been on the road and I had a son a while ago.

HAPPY: Congratulations!

ÁRNI: Thanks! But the best thing to come out of London in the last few months is a band called black midi. They are incredible.

HAPPY: I’ll check them out.

ÁRNI: I don’t know what else to say about them, they’re just amazing. You definitely have to check them out.

HAPPY: Say you’re seeing a band like that… what’s the difference between watching a show after you’ve played a few pub gigs and watching a show after you’ve done these huge festivals you’ve played?

ÁRNI: I don’t know. In order for a band to come across as well-liked, there’s so many things that you have do right. I don’t really even know if the context… there are so many thing that you have to magically line up to be really good –  because there’s so many bands and the majority of them are terrible. I don’t know if the context makes much of a difference.

HAPPY: Right. Now All My Friends Are Falling In Love dropped super recently so I feel like I’ve caught you at a lucky time. This came pretty soon after an album, is there another cycle of music coming soon?

ÁRNI: We haven’t quite decided whether this is a standalone or whether it’s the part of something bigger. It basically came up as something Ben wrote; we heard a couple of things we really wanted to work on and rather than trying to get bogged down in context again, we just decided to record it. Then we thought it was worthy of a release, so we released it. Kind of a no-brainer, really.

HAPPY: Cool – I think that’s about all I had. Looking forward to having you back in Australia again.

ÁRNI: I’ll see you there. Cheers man.


Catch The Vaccines live in Australia:

Thurs 3 Jan 2019 – Croxton Bandroom – Tickets
Fri 4 Jan 2019 – Metro Theatre, Sydney – Tickets

Also appearing at Falls Music & Arts Festival – Details