MM caught up with The Vamps frontman Bradley Simpson ahead of the band’s gig at Manchester Arena to talk about their love for the city, ‘mental’ fans, Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign, and plans for the future.
It’s tricky for a band to manufacture themselves entirely through social media and accrue more than 260million YouTube views, 4.6million likes on Facebook, and 2.5million followers on Twitter.
Add that to starting their own record label, all in their teens. But to The Vamps’ Bradley Simpson, it’s a piece of Cremeschnitte.
After their 2013 breakthrough and releasing their first album, the band traversed the planet with their instruments and now travel to the North West again to perform at the Manchester Arena.
But how has their informed sense of the world affected their perception of our beloved city?
— The Vamps (@TheVampsband) April 8, 2015
“Honestly, Manchester is one of my favourite places in the world,” said the 19-year-old lead-singer and guitarist Simpson, who has now performed with his band in cities such as New York, Tokyo and Sydney.
“The fans are so mental. I think it’s [Manchester] probably one of the places we’ve performed the most, ever – just because it’s so awesome.”
Since starting the band with James, Tristan, and Connor in 2011, Simpson never anticipated the scope of The Vamps’ popularity – idolisation that could only be emphasised by their visit to Manchester when turning on the Christmas lights in November 2013.
“It was like a zombie apocalypse,” said Simpson, who was trapped in the band’s van as they attempted to leave Albert Square.
“We left the [Manchester] gig as the crowd were coming out, so we got stuck dead in the road. We had to ring the police to escort us out. It was like ‘oh my God, we’re actually going to die.”
— The Vamps (@TheVampsband) April 1, 2015
In some ways, it’s no surprise the band of four have received such insanity, as their fans are generally prepubescent, clamouring girls that are known to channel their energies in showing huge support for their idols.
Fandom which is demonstrated through pop-bands like One Direction and witnessed since the time of the Beatles.
“It’s been a massive life change from being four lads who rehearsed in Tris’ [Tristan] garage, and then grew from playing music in pubs to go from that to releasing the album,” added Simpson.
“Our songwriting has really improved since, and our musicianship has gone up massively because we’ve had two years of having to get better.”
— The Rob Ellis Show (@TheRobEllisShow) April 14, 2015
Although the band used to upload YouTube covers of Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars songs, they’ve led comparisons to One Direction.
This is perhaps based on their pop-esque lyrics and teenage sounding voices.
But also their marketability that has all but escalated within the space of a few years, which to some degree, is a normality for the species of baby-faced and metrosexual musician.
There’s no denying that the group has worked hard and the boys have talent. They actually play instruments, unlike your average boyband.
Something that The Vamps have always been proud of and have reiterated many times in their interviews, including this one.
“We don’t mind being called a boyband, but we’re a band. If you come see us live you’ll be proven wrong – but we honestly don’t mind,” said Simpson.
— The Vamps Thailand (@VampsThaiNews) April 14, 2015
It was clear that they definitely did. Though you can’t blame them. You can’t not be affected by a label if you genuinely don’t believe you are something.
Like when someone accuses you of being offended or angry when you’re not, which eventually leads you to eat them for dinner. We’ve all been there.
But while Simpson welcomes the support they’ve received so far, he has also recognised that the trappings of fandom can be harmful to a young person’s identity.
He said: “It is scary how much influence celebrities have over the public and how much some people take what they do as gospel. I don’t think it’s the right way to be.
“I understand the idea of idolising someone with great music or fancying them, but putting them on a pedestal isn’t the best way to go about it.
“At the end of the day, they’re [celebrities] most likely to make mistakes where they’re – not being an idiot – just normal people. But because we have such a large influence, you’ve got to try and put the best values or what you think is right out there.”
This is bladdy awesome good job to the person that did this! pic.twitter.com/r3K6pJNeFe
— The Vamps (@TheVampsband) March 26, 2015
The Vamps support the Teenage Cancer Trust through their proceeds, and as part of their growth process as human beings, they’ve visited hospitals.
But conversely, Simpson doesn’t believe the public should hone in on negative behaviour to contradict the positive.
“I think Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign is amazing. I think that’s a brilliant way to use the exposure she gets and use that for a good campaign,” said Simpson.
“So I think we can use it well, but we need to recognise that people like Miley Cyrus, if they do what she did [at the VMA’s] then it’s not the be all and end all of that person, or what we should focus on.”
— Capital FM Arena (@CapitalFMArena) April 13, 2015
Mistakes are indeed a natural part of life, and he’s right in thinking it’s somewhat unfair if their characters are maligned through a period where mistakes are rife.
But what do they do in their spare time that could get magnified? Simpson laughed.
“We’re not very creative pranksters, but Tris and Connor are funny. They had three days of solid back and forth with the cameraman and manager, who were staying in a hotel room next to us,” he said chuckling.
“Tris and Connor went in their room with bandanas at three in the morning and went mental.
“They [cameraman and manager] responded by wrapping everything in their room in clingfilm. Then they had a salad cream fight. It was pretty full on.”
— The Vamps (@TheVampsband) April 13, 2015
The life of a band can be short, even after world domination. But in terms of their goals, Simpson claims it’s long-lasting friendship which keeps them going.
“The first band we ever went on tour with was McFly and they’ve been a band for twelve years,” he said.
“I look at a band like them who are still friends, writing songs together and that’s what we’ve said from day one we wanted and we do get on so well.
“That’s the goal, to maintain happiness within the band. Wish for success, but success isn’t necessarily the best measure of your happiness in the band – I’d rather make music that we’re proud of until we’re old, saggy, and wrinkly.”
The Vamps will be performing at the Manchester Arena on 25th April as part of their UK tour. If you’d like tickets, please click here.
Morning stories pic.twitter.com/mtKLp22ewI
— The Vamps (@TheVampsband) March 13, 2015
Image courtesy of The Vamps VEVO, via YouTube, with thanks.