Under the Influence: The Vaccines’ Top Five

Garage rock revivalists The Vaccines have been omnipresent in the hot lists since making their breakthrough at the end of 2010. Since their acclaimed debut album What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? was released in March, the four-piece have barely drawn breath while touring the planet with their spiky pop punk repertoire. Nick Amies caught up with them to talk influences on a rare day off.

Black Monk Time – The Monks

Considering what was happening in Britain with the Beatles and Stones, the Monks were way ahead of their time in the early 60s. Their direct approach and the raw power of their garage sound has been a huge influence on us. They had very few tools at their disposal but still managed to make an incredible noise. And they looked way-out with their weirdly shaved heads and nooses as ties. They set out to be the anti-Beatles in every way and that in itself was a ballsy move. They didn’t release that much material but what they did put out can be described as high velocity punk about a decade before the term even existed.

The Modern Lovers – The Modern Lovers

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers are a huge influence on the Vaccines and their proto-punk debut album is still a touchstone. They didn’t write punk and they didn’t sing punk but they sounded punk just by the way they presented the material, the sparse intensity of it. We went for that approach on our album with the same philosophy that it’s not what you play but how you play it. Like the Modern Lovers, we stripped everything down and tried to be as direct as possible. Richman himself is also a lyrical genius so the words are also sublime and have especially influenced Justin.

Lesson No. 1 – Glenn Branca

Branca was the avant garde godfather of the No Wave scene in New York in the 70s and 80s and this album is basically performance art. It’s just noise designed to freak you out. It’s not really music at all when you have 30 guitarists just playing the same note repetitively. He was a big influence on the guitar sounds of bands like Sonic Youth and Suicide. You wouldn’t really notice it but the driving guitar lines he used have really filtered through into our material too. It’s a weird journey I guess to go from Branca’s claustrophobic avant garde noise to our pop music, but there you go!

69 Love Songs – Magnetic Fields

Stephin Merritt is a genius lyricist and has had a massive influence on our songs and even though there is a lot of shit on this record – it is actually 69 love songs – the good songs are absolutely beautiful pop gems. He manages to remove the barriers between the mind and the mouth and its an innocence, naivety and honesty that can sometimes backfire but on this record, or at least some of it, he gets it spot on. This album for pure honest writing and courage of subject matter alone makes it a very significant one for us and has certainly shaped our own narratives.

Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps – Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps

This is early rockabilly stuff at the very invention of teen culture. They were singing about stuff that hadn’t been sung about before. It was the post-war vibe that would explode in the 50s, all these kids reacting against the doom and gloom of the war with nothing to do but go nuts without fear of the draft. They had nothing else to occupy their minds, nothing to worry about so they came up with rock’n’roll. People were going out and maybe just cutting one tune and the stuff they came out with was just so abrasive. Punk can be traced back to this really. This album encapsulates that feeling in a bunch of great rocking songs that a band like us can really relate to.

First published in The Red Bulletin, October 2011.