The Vamps: 'Going on tour with Little Mix will be great for us'
They've amassed a legion of fans, and, after playing a triumphant gig at Belfast's SSE Arena earlier this year, it seems The Vamps do not plan on slowing down any time soon. But just how much bite do the boy band have? By Joe Nerssessian
In October last year, following a 12-month long world tour, pop boy band The Vamps shook off their One Direction comparisons and released smash hit All Night. The foursome - Brad Simpson, Connor Ball, Tristan Evans, and James McVey - shot to fame in late 2012 after meeting online and recording a number of cover tracks on YouTube.
Now, five years on and two albums later, the boys are releasing a third record in two phases.
Part one, Night, is out in mid-July and will continue with the band's newer electronic-dance sound they executed on All Night, although Ball promises some acoustic ballads have also made the cut.
The decision to double up was partly to satisfy the amount of songs they had written but also, they admit, because of the growing demand from fans for more material.
"People release albums like once every year now," says Evans, (22).
"Ours are a little more delayed but I think we do take time and they are right."
Simpson interrupts: "With the first two we wrote about 50 to 70 songs for each album and we all got attachments for certain songs that didn't make it.
"But with having a two-parter we get to release a lot more and it's always great to have more material out there.
"Especially now when people are releasing stuff all the time and consumers want something instant and quick."
He continued: "People want music in the same vein as the way they are consuming Facebook videos or anything else.
"They want it quickly because they are so tuned into it so I'll think we'll try and release more material as and when it's written."
It's hard to imagine how difficult an interview for the rest of the band may be without 21-year-old Simpson. He's the crucial cog.
Charismatic, thoughtful and accommodating, he speaks eloquently about the band's direction, and while happy to laugh along when one of the others cracks a joke, he tends to be the first to then adopt a serious tone and begin answering the question.
For the album, they held a writing camp in Peter Gabriel's studio near Bath.
The studio is a hotbed of creative inspiration which has previously been used by everyone from Kanye West to Kylie Minogue and Ludovico Einaudi.
Essentially a brainstorming session, the Vamps kicked ideas around with a number of musicians and writers including The Ordinary Boys' Sam Preston, pianist Will Sims, singer-songwriter Bryn Christopher and US record producer Matt Rad.
"That's where Middle Of The Night was written," says Simpson, referring to the band's second track off the Night album.
"We all went down there and spent a week in this incredible studio and got a load of songs out of that," he adds.
"It was very weird to begin with," says Evans. "We got there and there was like 25 people sitting around this massive table eating lunch and it's like this is all here for us.
"Obviously every one who is a writer or a producer is either a musician or has been in a band themselves so they are all on the same wavelength and so everyone gets on.
"They were not too serious and it's all about exploring our creative artistry."
At time of the interview they are just about to go on tour with Little Mix across Europe, an experience they are treating as a valuable lesson to spend time on the road with one of the UK's most successful pop groups.
"It will also be a great chance to know them better," says 21-year-old Ball.
"We spent time with them over the past few years on pop festival bills and we've had a couple of nights out with them but going on the road is always different." After that, they are promoting Night with a tour of their own across the UK.
"It'll be really stripped down little tour," says Evans. "It'll give us a chance to speak about the album, obviously play it and give fans more of an insight into what we've written and been working on."
Not only have they released three albums in four years, but the boys are also signing young bands to their own record label, Steady Records, an offshoot from EMI/Universal.
So far they have signed US band The Tide and, more recently, UK trio New Hope Club who caught their eye on the latest social media app for budding musicians and teens, Musical.ly
"Connor's the Simon Cowell of the label," jokes McVey, (23), as the four fall about giggling.
After a minute or two, Simpson cuts through the noise.
"In all seriousness, it's a really good way to find talent," he says.
"We want to see young bands coming through and we're very conscious of making sure that people we sign are very driven by the music and the New Hope Club and The Tide are. They are musicians at the core and songwriters and that's where their focus goes and it's the same for us."
"We're pretty chilled out with the boys," says McVey. "I think it's important we get on, we've played football with the New Hope Boys."
Is it harder for people to break through on social media now with the amount of people trying?
"When we broke through on YouTube we were really lucky," replies Simpson, "Now there are bands and artists coming through different platforms and apps.
"People like Shawn Mendes through Vine and Musical.ly is massive at the moment.
"We feel very lucky that we were able to capitalise at the time and how we were using it because I think it's even harder to break through now."
He jokes they tried to use the app themselves but were "terrible at it".
"It was like watching your dad trying to use it," he quips as again the foursome descend into giggles.
With the youthful energy on display, comparisons to middle-aged fathers seem perhaps slightly exaggerated.
The Vamps' Night is out on July 14 on EMI Records