The Vaccines: It's mind-blowing to share a bill with The Rolling Stones
For most bands a mere three years into their career, a festival slot immediately before Kings Of Leon would be a pretty big deal. Not so The Vaccines. Next week the London band return to Northern Ireland to play at the Tennent's Vital festival in Belfast, the latest in a long line of huge gigs, which include supporting The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park last month.
"It was incredible," says bassist Arni Arnason as he prepares for a show in Philadelphia, during the band's recent jaunt to the US. "It doesn't get much bigger than that. It was an amazing honour and the day was brilliant. We didn't really hang out with them – I think they keep to themselves – but they did come up to us and say, 'I hope your gig went well'. We were like, 'Yeah, we haven't gone on yet'. I think they mistook us for The Temper Trap."
That's the kind of ego-deflation that would keep any band's feet on the ground, and they probably need it. Having released their second album in September 2012, The Vaccines went on to play a headline show at London's enormous O2 Arena, followed by an evening slot on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. Arni admits that it can be hard to come to terms with his band's stratospheric rise. "It certainly blows your mind when you see your name on a poster beneath the Rolling Stones – you go, 'Oh, this is f**king ridiculous'. You're waiting for someone to find you out, some guy to go, 'What are you doing here?' But it hasn't happened so far."
Once the American run is over, Arni is looking forward to returning to the European festival circuit – and partaking of a certain tipple when they get to Belfast.
"I absolutely adore going to festivals because you get to hang out with lots of acquaintances who you've met on the road," he says. "You always end up running into the same bands over and over again, like your fellow countrymen Two Door Cinema Club. We run into them quite a lot, and we're friendly. There's guaranteed Buckfast whenever we're in Northern Ireland!"
With two albums down, The Vaccines are well placed to discuss the British music press's infamous hype-wringer – something they know only too well. In early 2011 they were the latest skinny-hipped new band to be tipped as the 'next big thing' and the 'saviours of guitar music' by the likes of NME and Q, and despite mixed reviews of their archly-titled debut What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?, they emerged unscathed, quickly following it up with last year's even more audaciously monikered Come Of Age.
"It's a really important aspect of the British music press to take something and proclaim it as a saviour," says Arni.
"It gives a lot of bands a lot of opportunities that they probably otherwise wouldn't be able to get. Hyperbole is the way the UK Press works, whether it's on football transfers, or music or whatever it is. We were lucky enough to have written the [first] record before anyone had actually heard of us, so we didn't have to write anything under the pressure.
"There wasn't anything to latch on to with this band," he adds. "There wasn't a really arty video where you didn't know who it was. There was no pseudonyms, no bulls**t. There was just music. And because people were just talking about the music and not the image or the culture or whatever, we were quietly confident."
The Vaccines play Tennents Vital at Belfast’s Boucher Road Playing Fields next Wednesday, August 14, alongside The Undertones and The Minutes, in support of Kings of Leon. The festival runs from Wednesday until Friday. For full line-up and booking details visit www.tennentsvital.com