“We wanted to strip it back to something that we could just play in a garage...” - hmv.com talks to The Vamps
Pop-rock four-piece The Vamps delivered the first half of their two-part Night & Day album in September last year and have been busy touring heavily ever since, but this week the second part of this two-album series, The Day Edition, makes its arrival in stores.
Night & Day: The Day Edition features collaborations with Maggie Lindemann, Kriss Kross Amsterdam and Machine Gun Kelly, and with the album about to land on the shelves we caught up with band members Brad Simpson, James McVey and Tristan Evans to talk about what we can expect on this second instalment and their touring plans for the rest of the year...
Can you talk us through the concept behind your two Night & Day albums? Was it always going to be two separate albums?
Brad: “It was a few months before the Night & Day album was released and when we were writing the album, as we always do, we wrote a big batch of songs, 40 or 50 songs, and we wanted to release more of them because we saw that fans were asking for more. The level of content people consume has gone up in the past few years I think, 'cause of Spotify and stuff. So we wanted to release more of the songs we'd written and we decided to do a two-part album. So that's where the Night & Day concept was born, we could cater certain songs to the Night album that were a bit more dance orientated, then the Day album could be a bit more organic, more live band sounding, which is what we've done."
So is the Day Edition a bit more mellow than the Night Edition?
Brad: “Not mellow, I'd just say that obviously we're a band and we've grown up listening to bands, when you strip it back to just guitars, bass and singing, that's what we wanted to go back to on the second half, because the first half had so many DJ collaborations and that became the overall sound of that album, so we wanted to strip it back to something that we could just play in a garage or whatever, just the elements of a typical band.”
What kind of things were you listening to for inspiration when you were writing for this album?
James: “There was stuff like Charlie Puth, things with minimal production. Julia Michaels as well.”
Brad: “Yeah, she did this mini-album and like James said the minimal production thing felt really right for this."
James: “Things where the voice is used like an instrument, not just melodically but rhythmically as well.”
You've worked with quite a few different producers and co-writers, how did you go about deciding which of all those songs went on the album? Does having lots of people involved make that more difficult?
Brad: “I think it was easier with this one and the sonics that were suited to the Day theme, it was a case of which songs fitted into that. So it was a bit more natural on this one and things like 'Hair Too Long' and 'Talk Later' were like the figureheads for the Day Edition, they were like the cornerstones of the sound this album. And then from there we had songs like 'What You Father Says' and 'For You', those songs have been around for about two years, it was just about getting them to a place that fitted the album. It's nice having these songs on there that have been around for two years, 'For You' was written around the time of the second album, so when you get to get it out there it's 'ah, sweet, I've had this for so long!'”
You’ve got collaborations with Maggie Lindemann, Machine Gun Kelly and Kris Kross Amsterdam on the album, can you talk us through how they came about?
James: “So the Kriss Kross one, 'Cheap Wine', was a session we did, we went there and they were just in the room. It was quite strange because they're obviously producers, but we almost wrote the song with them in the room and they did their magic afterwards."
Brad: “They were pretty chilled, they just kind of sat there while we got on with it and we were like 'what do you think?' and they were like 'sounds great, carry on!'
James: “Yeah, so that was cool. We also did a writing trip about 18 months ago where we we did songs for both halves of the album, so we did 'Middle of the Night' and 'Hands' for the last one, then for this one we did 'Too Good to be True' and.... what was the other one?”
Tristan: “It was 'Personal'”
James: “Right, yeah so we had those songs there and the original version of 'Too Good to be True', the Machine Gun Kelly one, was quite different. Then Danny Avila heard it and transformed it a bit, then Machine Gun Kelly added his verse. It started very different to how it ended up, which is always interesting, we've had that quite a lot. For example with 'All Night' that we did a while ago, Matoma came on and added a synth line and it made such a difference. It's interesting to see the progression of songs, you wouldn't think that such a small thing would make such a massive difference but it does and it took the song in another direction. So it was the same with Machine Gun Kelly, that's how these things come about. Sometimes we'll reach out to them or the label will suggest someone but we always have a rough idea of who we want, or the sort of artist we want on a song.”
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
Brad: “'For You' took ages.”
James: “'Time is Not on Your Side' was quite long as well.”
Brad: “What was the song we had loads of different versions of?”
Tristan: "'Too Good to be True' was one of them. We had about ten different versions of that song.”
James: “Even 'Personal' started very different, then we added in some stuff that gave it a 'Shape of You' kind of vibe. That came very late.”
Brad: “They all took a while, really. You need that initial spark where you write a song in 20 minutes or whatever, but once you've got that it's the production and the fine-tuning that takes time to get right.”
And which one came together most quickly?
Brad: “'Hair Too Long' was really fast to write, again I think we wrote it in about 20 minutes, but then production took a couple of years, literally! Between the demo and the finished version there was about a year and a half I think.”
You’ve just finished a huge UK arena tour, how did that go?
Tristan: “It was amazing. And we've just announced another one! So good we want to do it again."
What have been the highlights on the last tour?
Tristan: “The homecoming shows in Birmingham and London were great, in sold-out arenas. It was crazy, those shows are always mental.”
Do you write a lot on the road?
Brad: “We don't have any choice!”
James: “Yeah, in fact with this album a lot more of the songs were written or at least crafted on the road. 'Hair Too Long' for example I heard first in Nottingham Arena, first or second tour, three years ago. And then it was literally just guitar and Brad's voice.”
Brad: “We've been doing the vocals on this tour that we've just done, we were doing James' backing vocals backstage! That's how it's been.”
You’ve got a busy summer full of shows, are there any places you’re particularly looking forward to playing?
Tristan: “Yeah, so it's called 'Four Corners', as in four corners of the UK. Not that is has 'corners' but, you know what I mean! We're going to little places that we've never been to basically, Plymouth, Aberdeen...”
James: “We've announced 18 dates but more may come, we're doing nine areas, which we always do, but then there's more shows at place that we've never been like Cambridge.”
What are your plans for the end of 2018? Are you heading back into the studio?
Tristan: “We've got an American tour after all this in September, then we'll be hopefully be doing shows round the world, Australia, Asia, that kind of area.”
Brad: “We're probably releasing more songs as well, which is mad. But we wrote a few songs at the beginning of the year, and even more recently than that, that just felt really strong."
So what's the plan, put on an EP later in the year?
Brad: “I think so, probably around September, with some collaborations we did. I think in this day and age there are fewer restrictions, you can just release a song, you don't have to wait for vinyl to be pressed or anything, you can just put it on a platform and it's out. So that's what we're gonna do.”