The Vamps look back on 10 years in music (Picture: Getty / REX)
Brad Simpson, Tristan Evans, James Brittain-McVey and Connor Ball are set to celebrate 10 years as The Vamps by celebrating their achievements across the past decade with Greatest Hits Arena Tour.
The foursome, who got together in 2012, have achieved huge success in the past 10 years, after kicking off their career thanks to YouTube.
They’ve since generated over six billion streams, over two billion views on the band’s YouTube channel, released five albums including two number ones with 2017’s Night & Day (Night Edition) and 2020’s Cherry Blossom, and became the first band to headline London’s O2 five years in a row.
So what better time to sit down with James, Brad, Connor and Tristan to take a look back at the past 10 years of The Vamps?
Take us back to 2012 – how did it all begin?
Brad: ‘It all started when me and James met after he found me online. We met at my house in Birmingham and we started writing songs together and we just clicked.
The band were formed in 2012 and things were already kicking off in a big way by the following year (Picture: Andy Sheppard/Redferns via Getty Images)
‘We started doing covers of bands on YouTube, which started to get a bit of traction. We met Connor the exact same way through YouTube, we saw a cover that he was doing and we loved it and thus the band was formed.
‘During that process, we got a record deal to Mercury Records and began writing our first album in amongst doing all these covers. So whilst we were working on our album behind the scenes, we were trying our best to garner a global fan base and start reaching out to people as far and as wide as we could.’
You guys started out on YouTube, but the landscape of social media has changed so much. How did you harness the power of that platform to your benefit at the time?
Brad: ‘The music industry has changed a lot in the 10 years that we’ve also been about. And YouTube was very interesting, because as with TikTok now, whatever you were creating, you had to do something that stood out and gave you a USP, because there was so much noise on there.
‘So we were trying to do covers of big songs in a way that sounded like The Vamps, we made them feel like our songs in a way that really influenced how our first album sounded, because we started to already build a sound as an acoustic driven pop band.’
When did you first realise that The Vamps was going to be a success?
James: ‘I have quite a vivid memory of walking to the pub in Dorset. I think it was with either Tristan or Brad, I can’t remember. It was the week after we were filmed busking outside a record label and I remember looking at our follower count going up like, on a Saturday night just watching that, and literally every time we refreshed it we’d have like another like two followers, which was kind of crazy.
‘There’s also moments like when we did a performance at Westfield in White City quite early on in the band and around 500 people came. That was, I think, the first performance that we’d ever done and that was kind of crazy, having people actually come to something.
‘Another moment that also made us think “S**t, this is actually working” was the first time we got over 100,000 views on a video for a One Direction cover. There’s definitely a few moments in that infancy period that that jump out for sure.’
With social media being such a huge part of the start of the band, how has your relationship with it changed over the years?
Tristan: ‘Personally, for me, I don’t really let people know what I’m doing every day. I think it’s because I just want to enjoy the moment rather than go straight to recording it.
‘There’s positives and negatives to that, obviously, as I don’t show the world the exciting moments, but I also kind of keep them to myself. So I’m still not sure what the right decision is, but for me my happiness, I think it’s kind of nice to keep what I’m doing on that day to myself in a weird way.
‘I do love to get involved when I can and when I’ve actually remembered to take it but I’m actually quite bad at reminding people of what’s going on.’
James: ‘I made the decision pretty early on to just be transparent with absolutely everything in my life, good and bad, and the main reason I did that is so I couldn’t be caught out or feel like it was an invasion of my privacy.
‘There are limits, like people turning up at my parents’ house is a little bit too much. But like, my relationship with my wife, issues that I’ve had, moments of celebration, I think I’d rather just give everyone everything so that I don’t feel that tension to try and hide away from it.
The band have differing relationships with social media these days (Picture: James Mccauley/REX/Shutterstock)
‘But what I would say is that I’m getting to a point in life now where I’m really frustrated that social media has somehow become like the currency of life and that’s what people use to qualify success.
‘Every day, for the past 10 years, I’ve done something on social media for The Vamps or for myself, so I’m getting to the point where I’m just gonna maybe stop using it altogether, just maybe delete it and try and actually live life for myself, as opposed to living life for social media.’
While you guys show us a lot of your lives, what tour memories stand out for you that didn’t make it onto social media?
Tristan: ‘Manila was quite cool the first time we went and we played this amazing arena. Plus, we had this really funny night out where we stayed in the hotel in the rooftop bar and we just ended up partying with the staff.’
Brad: ‘There was the cast of a production of Beauty and the Beast which we didn’t realise at the time, but later in the night we were partying and thought “B***dy hell, these guys are very good dancers,” and then it transpired that they were the spoons and the forks in Beauty and the Beast! It was a hell of a night.’
Connor, you could have impressed them with your Dancing On Ice moves!
Connor: ‘To be fair, I didn’t really do much dancing – I just skated and tried to do as little of the actual dancing as I could because I’m not good at that and I’ll admit that.’
Tristan: ‘I don’t know about that – I beg to differ!’
Connor: ‘That was the one thing I struggled with actually. And not to sound like an alcoholic but I couldn’t have a drink before we’d skate like when we do a show to get rid of the nerves.
‘I still managed to break the record for the most amount of stitches they gave a contestant in one series. I have a lot of scars.
‘I’ve not been skating once since the show finished, which is quite sad because I did enjoy it a lot. But I don’t trust myself anymore.’
You guys are heading out on the road later in the year – what can we expect from the tour now the scars have healed up?
Brad: ‘We’ve never done a tour where we haven’t got an album that we’re either promoting or jumping off the back of, so this is purely a celebration of the five albums that we’ve done as well as the EP.
‘So there’s a lot of music there that we can pick and choose from, we’re going to get the fans involved so they can help choose the setlist every night.
‘There’s a lot of people who feel part of this 10 year journey with us, so for them too, it’s a celebration of certain moments in their lives that our music has narrated.
The Greatest Hits tour will be a celebration of the past five albums (Picture: BBC/Guy Levy)
‘So these fans may have been going through big points of turmoil or big changes or happy moments, and our music, very gratefully has been the soundtrack to those moments, so it’s about celebrating all of that and just having two hours of fun, fireworks and flames.’
Tristan: ‘It’s gonna be a big, big, big show, like biggest show we’ve ever done. So we wouldn’t want anyone to miss it, it’s gonna be really sick.’
How much does it mean to you all to have been the soundtrack to your fans’ lives in this way?
Connor: ‘There’s a lot of tattoos which we’ve written over the years and they’re like song lyrics or titles and things like that, which I think is really special that they’d want to take something that we’ve created and put it there on their bodies forever. It’s just pretty cool.’
You’ve worked with some incredible people over the years, what’s the best advice you have been given during the past 10 years?
Tristan: ‘I spoke to Taylor [Swift’s] mum, I remember I was just really young, very early in our career, and I was speaking to her quite naively I’d say, and she kind of corrected me, saying that “you shouldn’t rely on these people, you should really just focus on how you’re gonna make it happen and just pretend like you’re the only person in your team,” so that was pretty cool.’
The band have promised they’re not going on a One Direction-style hiatus after the tour and will give fans some things to look forward to in their break
Following the 10 year anniversary tour, when can we look forward to new music?
James: ‘At some point! But I think like we’ve done five albums and and EP in a pretty short space of time, compared to other bands who’d usually do about three albums in that time.
‘So I think we’re gonna do something with it being 10 years of The Vamps, there may be something coming, but I think new music may be a couple of years off, which I imagine for any other band is quite a normal thing to hear, but I think for a Vamps fan that’s a longer break.
‘But I think we just need some time to live, especially after having a couple of years with the pandemic we’ve not really been able to do that much, so I think we need to live and then write about it for a bit.’
Promise us you’re not going to pull a One Direction-style hiatus on us and never come back?
Brad: ‘Absolutely not! I think we’re conscious of always feeding the fans – we’re gonna have things over the next few years, if it’s not new music, it will be stuff that keeps people engaged and is exciting for a Vamps fan. There’ll be stuff going on.’
The Vamps’ Greatest Hits tour 2022 dates:
Wednesday November 23- Manchester O2 ApolloFriday November 25- Brighton CentreSunday November 27- London The O2 ArenaWednesday November 30 – Bournemouth International CentreThursday December 1 – Cardiff Motorpoint ArenaSaturday December 3 – Dublin 3 ArenaMonday December 5 – Belfast SSE ArenaWednesday December 7 – Liverpool M&S Bank ArenaThursday December 8 – Glasgow OVO HydroSaturday December 10 – Nottingham Royal Concert HallSunday December 11 – Birmingham Utilita Arena
Tickets for The Vamps’ Greatest Hits Arena Tour are on sale now at www.thevamps.net/dates/
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