THE VAMPS RELEASE CHERRY BLOSSOM, NEW ALBUM OUT TODAY
16 OCTOBER 2020 (TORONTO, ON) - The Vamps are back with their new album Cherry Blossom, out today. An album title that is a reflection of the theme of rebirth that runs throughout.
Listen to Cherry Blossom HERE
And a rebirth of The Vamps it is. Their most personal and fully-formed to date – led by the scuzzed up, sky-scraping banger "Married in Vegas" (A Listed at BBC Radio 2 and a 'Record of the Week' for Matt & Mollie on BBC Radio 1) – the album was aided by the enforced rest, with the band having the time and space to meticulously plan exactly what they wanted it to be and say. “Before, we were just making stuff on the road and it was working, and we loved it, but we needed time to get bored,” explains singer songwriter and producer Simpson. “This is the first time I've been so bored I've started trying shit I've never done before.”
It's an album that started with a slight bump. Having been on the treadmill of album, tour, album-recorded-on-tour, another tour, they fell back into the old routine and wrote half an album quickly 18 months ago. Some proper time off was needed however, so they indulged in that rare thing of space away from the band. “We had a lot of time to soul search, but also as musicians we had time to go and listen to a variety of different albums and just enjoy music,” explains McVey. Then, last summer, unhappy with the results of those early sessions, they booked some AirBnbs and just hung out and started jamming as the band. “We ended scrapping all of the first batch of songs and starting again,” McVey says. “Last summer was the real breakthrough moment for us. We wrote a song called Part of Me at one the AirBnb sessions and that was where we were like 'oh shit, let's do a whole album like that'.” That song immediately set the bar for the rest of the album. Simpson explains, “We unlocked where we wanted to go in terms of our own aspirations. We had time to do that too. We were like, if we can do this then we shouldn't settle for anything under this". This sentiment is echoed in the lyrics to second single Better "I won't settle for less than best, we can do better than this."
Those sessions also acted as a future of the band summit. A decade into their careers, and now on their fifth album, they had to take stock. “When you're on tour it's very reactive and you're in the moment, so you're not necessarily really deep-diving into your relationships as a band,” says Simpson. “We got to a point where we needed to stop so that we knew what we wanted to do next. Every crossroads that we'd come to – the end of a tour or the end of an album cycle – it was like 'what are we going to do next?' and there'd be an answer there every time. One of the questions I remember asking the band was 'in the next year what does everyone want out of their personal lives? Forget about music, what do you want as people?' So we knew that if we were going to do an album that first and foremost it had to be one that we loved and that we could stand behind. We needed to make sure that personally everyone was rock steady.” With that sold ground established, and the songs flowing, they called in regular collaborators such as Jack & Coke (Rita Ora, Charli XCX), Lostboy (Zedd, Dua Lipa) and JHart (Camila Cabello, The Script) to help shape the songs, alongside Simpson who took the lead on much of the production. More sessions were still needed when lockdown hit, but thanks to the fact each band member can write and produce they were able to carry on working on the songs via Zoom and various apps, including Mixin which allowed them to upload files to each other. “Lockdown has allowed us to finish the album fully before going out to start promoting,” says McVey. “It's given us a couple of months to knuckle down and finish it all. It's also given us the time to be more ready than we've ever been.”
Earlier this year the album was sent to their label, EMI Records. As far as everyone was concerned it was finished, with singles just left to be decided on. They knew they had a strong collection of bangers and ballads that told the story of a band re-born, but they weren't entirely certain about which song should properly mark the start of The Vamps Part 2. That's when Zoom really came into its own. “On the day we handed the album in I went on a Zoom call with Lostboy,” explains Simpson. “We had a few beers and then four hours later Married in Vegas was birthed.” It's left to McVey to fill in the gaps. “I was playing Playstation with my mates and it was about 11pm and I was pretty drunk too actually. Then Brad FaceTimed me and he was like 'I've just written this song!'. I love moments like that because even when you think something's done it can still change at the last minute,” he says. Suddenly the race to be Cherry Blossom's lead single was won by a brand new song, a clear sign that their creative juices were in full flow. “That song came along and we were like 'right, fuck, this is the one'. It was nice to have that clarity.”
In fact, 'clarity' is the word that underpins everything about Cherry Blossom. It was the band's clarity of vision that anchored it from the start, with them also wanting to keep the album focused by working with a much smaller group of collaborators than they'd worked with before. With each album they're also becoming more and more involved in the production as well as the songwriting, with 60% of the album produced by the band alone. If their first two albums centred around bright, left-leaning acoustic-pop and their second two around a more experimental, EDM-orientated sound, then Cherry Blossom feels like the perfect mid-point between those two soundscapes. It's an album that sees them embracing where they're at as mid-twenty-somethings, with a fanbase going through the same things as them. “Fans want more context to music now, they want more subtext to it,” says Simpson. “You're doing them a disservice not to evolve. To not be authentic. The idea is to bring them on a journey with us, as they grow up too. We're writing about stuff we haven't necessarily touched on before.” So while the playful, bouncy-castle-in-song-form "Married in Vegas," propelled by a buoyant Elton John-esque piano riff, is about throwing caution to the wind, songs like the pensive ballad Would You deal with the insecurities that crop up in seemingly perfect relationships. “If I walked out of the door would you even notice I'm gone,” sings Simpson over a mix of intricate beats, eerie soundscapes and delicate guitar figures. “For me music and lyric writing has become really cathartic and a form of getting out a feeling that shouldn't be there,” says Simpson.
The Vamps, aka Brad Simpson, Connor Ball, Tristan Evans and James McVey, had never really had the chance to be bored before 2020 struck. Since their platinum-selling debut album, Meet The Vamps, crashed into the UK charts at number 2 in 2014, the band have been holding onto a dream-like rush of albums (four in total, including 2017's chart-topping Night & Day (Night Edition), featuring the Matoma-assisted global smash "All Night"), singles (eight top 40 hits including five top 10s), and world tours (they're the first band to headline London's O2 Arena five years in a row). With the tour for 2018's guest-heavy, Top 3 hit Night & Day (Day Edition) all done the band returned from a short break when a global pandemic struck just as they were crafting the new album.
In the space of just six years The Vamps have morphed from bright-eyed and bushy-tailed boyband with instruments into a proper fully-fledged pop band crafting arena-sized Hits. On Cherry Blossom, that musicality that's occasionally been lost in frantic release schedules and world tours and award shows has been given the time to properly, well, blossom. This isn't a vehicle for pop's current crop of in demand songwriters and producers, this is a Vamps-lead project that's made all the more impressive by the fact it was honed and finessed during lockdown. “We'd be lying if we said we didn't want it to go out into the world and be received positively,” says Simpson of their hopes for the album. “But ultimately we love it so much, and that feeling of self-fulfillment is so exciting. These are songs that really touch on parts of our lives.” He smiles. “The songs mean that little bit more.”
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