“Richard Ramirez was a strange cat” - Todd Bridges, who played Willis on the tv show “Different Strokes,” was in jail at the time facing trial for attempted Murder after allegedly shooting a drug dealer. Todd said “He used to come by my cell and shake my door really hard. he always tried to freak me out. ‘i’m going to come in and get you,’ he said.” I remember the day he found out he was going to get the Gas Chamber, he came back to our cellblock, and he had this real somber look on his face. ‘Get Ready,’ I said and I puffed my cheeks out real big like I was holding my breath. “How long can you hold your breath? you’re done.”
Indie Rock is dead. Yet a few UK guitar band have managed to stand the test of time, and among those are certainly The Vaccines. With their third album English Graffiti the four-piece picked a somewhat more experimental pop-oriented sound. The Woman Machine sat down with Pete and Freddie and discussed whether music videos are still important and talked about gig memories:
Would you place yourselves within a genre?
Freddie: I think genre is more of a thing that happens in hindsight. Pete: I think it’s mainly the public and the press who decide what genre a band is in. It’s the most difficult question to answer for any band. You’re trying to incorporate so many influences, it’s just easier to leave it to others. Freddie: People are also mostly like ‘oh this has guitars so it must be rock‘. It’s such an old concept.
Do you think it can be pretentious for a band to name their genre?
F: Yeah it could be! But I don’t know if anyone would actually say that? P: I think I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen people try to invent a new genre that they are the forebearers to. F: Remember MySpace? When you could put genres your profiles. And all the bands always used to put the most ridiculous genres there, like: Jamaican Tropical Hip Hop.
Those were the times… In one interview Justin said he wanted the album to sound outdated in ten years. Do you agree with that?
F: Well, it’s just the idea that certain sonic characteristics are defining certain decades or periods. Like a there is a certain snare drum sound that defines the 80s or if you put the guitar on a chorus pedal and distortion that’s very 90s. If you’re in a band and you want to do that you’ll just sound like you’re ripping off Nirvana. So I guess what Justin was saying is that as a band we usually want to be timeless or classic. But this time we didn’t give a shit about that. We just wanted to absorb as much of now as we can. So the concept was totally different. Every generation has this totally different concept of what modern is.
Can you think of any music that sounds outdated nowadays?
F: Yeah of course! I don’t wanna say any names but all that indie disco stuff with twangy guitars and funny riffs. It’s very dated - but not outdated. There’s nothing wrong with it. But if you want to create something new you stay away from it.
I read that one of you got his nose broken over fighting over the setlist.
F: So you wanna know who it was?
No, I just wanna know if that’s your most rock’n’roll attitude
F: No, I don’t think rock’n’roll is about fighting. It’s about music. Breaking someones nose is just hooliganism. It’s stupid. We’ll find a better way to settle on our setlist. More peaceful.
But that’s however a great anecdote. You released a video for Give Me A Sign in which you performed as a sort of 80s hair metal band. On a scale from 1-10, how embarrassing was it?
F: I was wearing like a handkerchief worth of clothes. Hotpants that didn’t fit and they were so short you couldn’t really wear underwear underneath. Pretty embarrassing for me. P: But there were people around wearing a lot less than you. F: Different clothes, but not less. But it was fun to make that video. I felt like Peter, the director didn’t need anything from us he just needed us to be there. It was really fun, the whole day.
What was your favourite video to make so far?
F: Oh, every video was interesting so far. Apart from the first ones in which were we just performing pretty straight-forward. I just think we always tried not to make generic videos. Handsome was a lot of fun. We got kung-fu lessons, that was really cool. 20/20 was cool because there was this surreal environment. But Give Me A Sign was really the strangest so far.
So you as a band still believe in the music video as a medium?
F: Only if you do it in an interesting way. Otherwise it’s really boring. The MTV Generation is over, when you needed a visual to go along with the song. I think music videos die a little bit but as long as we can make videos we can try to make things that are interesting. Anything that just isn’t us standing in front of something and playing.
Can you think of any other creative outlets as a band?
F: When you go to your first gigs it’s like a sacred experience. So when we go back to England and tour we want to try to do as much extra stuff as possible. People queue outside venues. And we could set something up with Arni cooking because he’s a great chef, like a food stand. Or we can do charity or have other people DJ or play an acoustic set. So it’s more like an event. As you said, we have this opportunity to be creative so we should do as much as we can. It’s amazing to have an idea and watch it form.
And you could give something back to the fans.
P: I think it’s important to do everything you can. Or it will be really dull…
What was your most sacred gig memory?
F: My first gig was The Spice Girls. But that wasn’t sacred at all. My first rock gig was The D4, a band from New Zealand. I didn’t know them very well but I was just like: Wow, it’s so loud! And they’re drinking beer! And it’s not even six o’ clock in the evening! Now i think it’s just ridiculous. Their first single was called Party (starts singing).
Have you ever thought of making a concept album?
P: That hasn’t really been discussed. It depends on how we want to write the next album. Sometimes concepts albums come together when you already have a few songs in it. And then you want to write a story but before you have anything it’s really difficult. F: It’s not like people plan these things, they just happen. P: You can have the greatest idea in the world but once you get into the situation where you’re actually recording then you have to follow your instincts. Maybe is the answer.
Is playing on a stage also instinctive?
P: I think you get involved in a lot of practice, a lot of rehearsing which sets the tone for how things are gonna go. You don’t feel the same every night. You have to approach it slightly different based on how you feel. F: I can’t stand when it’s boring. You have to find the interest and energy or the fire. If anyone looks close to bored. It just drives me insane.
Apparently The Strokes are back in the studio together, what do you think about that?
F: Aren’t they always? Well I don’t know. I haven’t even really listened to the last one, what was it called?
Oh yeah. I do like Julian’s new album though, it sounds like he’s making something that makes him happy. His band [The Voidz], they’re such weirdos with taste. A bizarre collection of guys who are really good musicians.
What was your favourite album in 2015?
F: Julia Holter’s record [Have You in My Wilderness] P: I’d probably say the Tame Impala record [Currents]. We were really lucky to be playing a festival in Australia with them. It was the week their album came out and it was insane, they really blew the place away.