The Vamps

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Jan 28
 

Krshna Moriani talks to Brad Simpson, lead singer of The Vamps, and hears how the supposed One Direction imitators are maturing beyond their boy band image

The new One Direction? For some groups the tag would be a media-gifted seal of approval, a certificate that they’re the anointed ones next in line for global pop domination. Others would take it as a slur, not wanting to be thought of as another glossy corporate creation.

Whatever anyone else says, in their own minds British pop rockers The Vamps are most definitely not the successors to the recently vacated throne of Harry Styles and co. They persistently refute the stereotypical ‘boy band’ tag, keen to remind everyone that they play their own instruments and aren’t the product of a record producer looking to manufacture popular acts. Rather, their origin dates back to 2011 when lead guitarist James McVey – already a solo artist – decided he would rather be in a band. Slowly, as The Vamps were brought to life, they started releasing cover after cover on YouTube, a process that built them a worldwide following that grew as fast as digital word of mouth could travel. Kicking off their Wake Up world tour in Sydney five days before they play at AsiaWorld-Expo, The

Vamps intend to display the energetic joie de vivre and youthful charm that has made them a worldwide sensation. Still fresh from the success of their debut, Meet The Vamps (2014), their sophomore effort, Wake Up, has started strongly, hitting the UK top 10 and charting in nine countries a month into its release. “It took about two years to do the first album. We worked with a lot more people, trying out a lot more genres,” reveals lead singer Brad Simpson when starting to describe the differences in sound between the band’s two LPs. The new album has noticeably more consistent flair, demonstrating the growth in The Vamps’ musical maturity. Though, Simpson notes, “There are obviously a lot of influences in the new album. In general it’s a bit more synth-inspired, there’s more of an electronic feel throughout the whole thing.”

Simpson is a confident spokesperson for The Vamps as we speak over the phone. He’s grown into his role as the frontman of the act, but the band as a whole have faced tough times adjusting to their success. When they signed to Mercury Records in late 2012, it was a daunting challenge moving from basic equipment to a professional studio and being able to experiment more. “It was scary at first because we had to work with new people. But once we got used to it, it was okay. We never felt pressured. We always wanted to get into a studio and we enjoyed it a lot,” recalls the 20-year-old.

For Wake Up, the band chose to work with a new producer, Steve Mac, who in Simpson’s opinion pushed the four-piece beyond their limits and forced them to think ‘outside of the box’. His tweaks to their sound were something thoroughly welcomed by the boys to ease them through – that old cliché – the ‘difficult second album’. “In terms of input, we get a lot of it,” admits Simpson. “But we’re not too precious to say that we don’t want to work with anyone in particular.”

With over 15 million YouTube views since their formation, the band are in high demand. “I don’t think we ever expected to be touring the world, getting a chance to go to places like Hong Kong and having the opportunity to play everywhere, having people sing back the lyrics to our songs. We’re very grateful for that,” confides the vocalist, either a little choked up at the thought of it all or just suffering a sore throat (thanks to the poor quality of our connection, it’s hard to tell).

Despite despairing that ‘all we’ve been doing for the last little while is just touring, touring, touring the first album’, Simpson says the band are excited to be back on the road and banging out their new songs. “We’ve been playing the same stuff for so long, so we want to expand our discography and take it across the world.” They may not be at 1D levels of popularity yet, but with their new album selling well and a tour that’s visiting four continents, the band appear well on their way to awakening listeners to their talent.

The Vamps Thu Jan 28, AsiaWorld-Expo, Chek Lap Kok. Tickets: $588-$888; hkticketing.com.

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