Beyond their good looks, catchy tunes, and posh accents, pop rock group The Vamps— Brad Simpson, James McVey, Connor Ball and Tristan Evans—has a lot more to offer beneath the surface. What most people don’t know is that they take a lot of pride in their musicianship, songwriting, and keeping themselves grounded. We caught up with the quartet, who were fresh off their concert on October 6 at Ayala Malls Vertis North.
How was The Vamps formed?
Brad: James actually found me. James was doing acoustic solo things as we all were. About six years ago, he found me on YouTube. We met up and started writing songs together for about six months. Then we found Tristan doing drum covers and competitions online and then we got signed. That started things up and shortly after that, we found Connor. He was the missing puzzle piece that we’ve been looking for and then The Vamps was formed five years ago.
Is it true that the band was named after Twilight?
Brad: It was Tristan right there.
Tristan: I’m gonna be honest and start this. They put the blame on me and I know nothing about Twilight and I’m just gonna tell you this now. But we like Twilight. You know Edward is a good looking dude. Everyone just kinds of connects the dots and think we’re vampires but we’re not… but we could be.
Everyone has different favorites from your music. What’s yours?
James: The new album for us was something that took a long time. It’s actually the longest we took to write out. Eighteen months. Consequently, each song had its own place in the album. But my favorite is a song called “Same to You,” which we wrote in Sweden. I think each song is very personal to us this time. When we did our first album, we were 16; we were young, especially when it comes to our music. I think over time, we’ve had the opportunity to do world tours and learn a lot more about ourselves. The song called “Same to You” kind of reflects that.
Brad: There’s a song on the album called “My Place” which I remembered I’ve been working on when we went up to Cebu. I remember we were at the back of a van and I was working on that track. That was about two years ago. Part of it was done here which is quite cool. Connor and Tristan, we all kind of co-produced it. It kind of traveled the world with us that song and it got finished in the months leading up to the album. So I think that song’s quite special just because it has seen the world with us.
Connor: “Paper Hearts” is my favorite. The writing process was fun. It came around very quickly in a nice place in L.A. with the lovely view. So it’s just the memories and stuff.
Tristan: “All Night” because it goes off live. It’s such a fun song to play live. And it’s like the first to have like proper international success for us. Especially in the Philippines as well. Wherever we go in the world, whenever the chorus kicks up, everyone sings the words. Even the parents that are bringing their daughters to the show. It just kicks up and it works for us.
What do you guys enjoy most about creating music?
Brad: I think it’s always nice once you’ve written the sound you like and you’re in like an intimate place or a place that means something to you, the best part of the whole process is going out and playing the song live and hearing people singing the lyrics back and you see that it’s connected people on a certain level. I think that’s one of the most humbling things is that when you can see it helped out someone. You know they come up and say, “This song really helped me through a hard time in life” and that’s the reason it kind of spurs you to continue on to write music.
Ever since your first album, you’ve had steady records. Why do you think it worked out for you?
Brad: We were lucky to come in when we were about 16 and over the couple past five years, we’ve had a good insight into how the inner workings of the record label and the music business. I think it’s something that we’ve been very interested in. We would like to kind of push through young, talented musicians and that’s always been something that we looked to do. We’ve got the New Hope Club boys, who again are like reminders of an early The Vamps in a sense that they love music and they love songwriting and that’s the core of who they are as a band. They’re not really interested in other things which reminds us of us. I think it’s nice to see people who are still focused on musicianship and performing live. Then we just kind of want to give them as good a platform as we can give.
What’s your favorite part of being a part of The Vamps?
James: Everyday is different. I think it’s been nice actually cause when we all met, we were like 17. It’s funny to see how things kind of have changed and progressed over the years. I think my favorite is being able to travel a lot. I’m probably the only person in my school that’s ever been to the Philippines. We get to go to so many places and I grew up in quite a small town in the South of England. So for me, it’s really been eye opening and it has taught me a lot with all the traveling and that’s the best part of it.
Brad: Everyday is different and I think that’s kind of what makes it a very enjoyable process. It’s never boring. There’s never a time where it kind of plateaus. You just enjoy seeing new fans, going and releasing new songs. Like we say, it’s the difference between going away to the studio, we write songs for six months and coming out on tour and it’s just a very enjoyable process. It’s a lot easier when you’ve got 3 of your best mates around.
So far you’ve had a good track record in the public eye. How have you been keeping this up? Is this naturally who you are?
Tristan: We always have intel on the ground and in the air. Telling us when there’s a camera about. We always know. Half of these guys count as our security anyways. I’m kidding.
James: I don’t think we’re that weird people. I think we’re quite normal guys that we’re very lucky to kind of stumble upon what The Vamps is. With us, we just try to maintain who we kind of are. We all grew up in a life in small towns with really strong families and those morals that we were brought up with carried across into our personal life. For us, we just like being normal, nice people. I think it’s important to remain grounded. We do things as a band like we play football occasionally or paintball a few times. I think it’s important to just be very normal and appreciative of those around you. We seem to be like squeaky clean and perhaps some people presume that that’s the intended thing but the reality is we’re just a bit chill. We’re not that crazy. Well… with album four who knows what’s gonna happen. Be careful, I tell you.
This is your 4th time in the country. What makes you keep coming back here?
Brad: The culture.
Tristan: The food. The weather. It’s actually hot here. In the UK it’s not very hot. Obviously the fans. Every time we play a show here, we always leave the arena or the stage just saying how crazy that was. Usually in an arena, we have seats on the floor but they just got on those seats and they were like jumping on the seats. It’s dangerous but it’s amazing how much fun they’re having while we’re on stage and that makes us come back all the time. We just love that.
James: We just want to say, it’s strange for us from the start. The Philippines has been the Top 3 Most Interactive countries in the world. Actually, as a city, like where we are now is the top in all of our Facebook and Instagram statistics. It’s just amazing that people from the other side of the world appreciate our music and we thoroughly appreciate their support in return. We’re definitely going to come back here every year until they get sick of us.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY RENZ PEREZ