To celebrate the release of The Vamps’ experimental fifth album Cherry Blossom, we joined ZM’s Cam Mansel to host an exclusive fan Q&A over Zoom with the boys (who were all in their own homes). The 38 lucky winners all piled into the Zoom call at 8:30 PM Thursday 15th and had the chance of a lifetime to chat to the band and learn about the makings of the album.
Here are some of our fave moments.
The bat that attacked Connor
Starting off, Cam welcomed the boys and paused to let Tristan take a video of all the smiling screens. He mentioned NZ were lucky because we’d be hearing Cherry Blossom first and Bradley hoped we all liked it. “I’m sure we will!” Cam grins. “Do you guys have a favourite memory from creating the album together?”
While Tristan believed they had “so many cool memories for the album,” one stood out for James in particular.
“There was a moment when we rented out one of the Airbnbs and Tris, Brad and I … this is how f**king sad we are, we went to climb the top of a hill in a famer’s field and Connor stayed to do some programming. And anyway, we got sent a video when were on top of this hill and Connor was in this barn on his own producing and a bat came in and was just flying …”
“Oh, it was so funny,” Bradley chips in from his screen.
“Con was just terrified,” James concludes.
“It was massive!” Connor screams.
Bradley laughs. “It’s now on the album credits.”
James’ big, sensitive heart
When asked what songs they were most proud of musically and lyrically, James had a really sweet answer prepared.
“Lyrically, I think ‘Protocol’ for me. It was a strange one because I sort of thought what’s really precious to me in my life? And I’d just got engaged and I thought let’s write a song about if I cheated on her and how that would feel. And I’ve never done anything like that before, I’ve never cheated on anyone before, so it was a bit of a weird thing and it was quite sad. So, lyrically for me that was a bit of a challenge.”
And ‘Protocol’ seemed to be the communal fave with Bradley and Connor adding it to their list as well. “I love all the parts we played in it,” Connor answers. “And I like the bass parts.”
Cam’s fantastic hair
While answering who the musical inspirations were for the album (lots of HAIM), Bradley had to take a second to talk about something very important.
“Can we just take a minute … Cam, you’ve got fantastic hair, man.”
“Oh! You’re too kind!” Cam grins back.
Then a how-to and product rec (just a supermarket one) was shared and Bradley took down his notes. “Lots of volume,” he replies. “Lots of shine, we love it.”
“I look forward to you rocking it, Brad!” Cam laughs.
The greatest opportunists we’ve ever seen
Two fans were next to ask their question and they both sat together in their bedroom absolutely fizzing. Their eyes were shining, their bodies far from keeping still. They saw their opportunity and by God, did they take it.
“Will you be coming to NZ after Covid and can we get free tickets or meet you in person?”
The boys all laughed, and Bradley opted to answer. “I love it. Now you’ve asked, yeah! May as well.”
A burst of excitement erupted from the girls, who could not believe their gumption actually paid off.
“Honestly, as soon as we can we’re gonna be back touring and be back in NZ,” Bradley continues. “We miss it, we genuinely really really miss it and miss you guys. But yeah, when we’re back, absolutely!”
Meet The Vamps is a good bloody album
When asked what their fave song from debut album Meet The Vamps was, the boys all had their own answers with memories associated to each song.
“What do you reckon, boys?” Bradley asked his fellow bandmates. “Favourite song?”
“I mean, it’s gotta be ‘Can We Dance’ I think,” Tristan pipes in from his screen. “Just because that was our first real song that we had.”
“The song ‘High Hopes’ we wrote with McFly and McFly was a band we really loved growing up,” James adds. “So, in my head, when that song comes on … and I do still listen to it, it feels like a McFly song.”
“You mean you skip the other ones?” Bradley jokes. “That’s the only one you listen to?”
James laughs and shrugs. “If you think of literally all the other songs, like ‘Can We Dance’ for example, you imagine how many times we’ve played that. So [when it’s] in my headphones my hands start going to like an A major.”
“I really like ‘Lovestruck’, I’ve always liked ‘Lovestruck,’” Bradley answers.
“I’d go ‘Risk It All’ I think,” Connor finally chips in. “We’ve played it on a lot of tours and it’s always been one that’s special to us I reckon.”
James suddenly looks worried. “I thought that was on our second album for a second, I completely forgot. S**t!”
His bandmates shake their heads and laugh.
“Good bloody album, boys!”
In comes the next fan, and she’s got smarts hidden up her sleeve. Why choose between doing homework and talking to The Vamps when you can do both? “I have a music/songwriting assignment due next week,” she begins. “So, do you have any songwriting or composing or producing tips?”
Straight away, Bradley wants to know what kind of music stuff she’s into. “Just pop, I guess,” she replies.
“Sick!” He exclaims, gearing up to put his teaching hat on. “We’ve always found that honesty is the best policy, so write something that feels honest. Write something that you love, because if you love it it’s a lot easier to make other people love it. And enjoy it as well,” he begins. “And it needs to make people feel something at the very heart of it. Whatever it is, whether it’s an upbeat thing or a ballad, it’s gotta be emotive. Good luck with it! It’s gonna be amazing.”
Tristan then pops in for his two cents before the next question is asked. “I’d say study other producers and then do it in your own way and create your own sound.”
“Thank you so much!” Squeals the fan.
James almost deleting half the album
“This is mental,” the next fan comes in and honestly says what we’re all thinking. “I remember listening to ‘Can We Dance’ at school and I’m 19 now. I remember specific times where I’d listen to your songs and I was just wondering, do you have any specific moments you remember while making the album?”
James comes in hot. “The moment I realised I hadn’t deleted half the album,” he says, and the other boys laugh. “A bit of context for you guys at home, Brad and I were doing ‘Protocol’ and he was recording vocals. I was on the laptop recording and a message came up on the screen and it was something like “do you want to backup this session?” and I think I clicked no. Then Brad came in and was like “what did you press?!” and I was like “I don’t f**king know!” He adjusts himself in his seat and continues his story. “I was so scared. We ended the session and went home, and I still didn’t know if I had technically lost all the songs. But I knew that if I had, I probably would’ve gotten a phone call half an hour later. And when I didn’t get that call that evening, I was like oh my god. I’d say I was more nervous about that than proposing.”
“I can imagine I came in very stressed as well.” Brad laughs. “Those things scare me. I got a really lovely taxi driver to take me to Con’s [the other day] and I was finishing off production in the taxi and I got to Con’s, put the laptop down and then got out. And I was walking, and the taxi driver pulled up next to me and he was like “dude, dude! You forgot this!” and it was the hard drive with everything on it. I was like “Oh my god. I love you, man.” If it wasn’t for Covid, I would’ve given that man a hug. Stressful moments!”
Cherry Blossom was gonna be called V5?
“Before you named the album Cherry Blossom did you have any other names?” Went the question.
“Remember boys,” starts James. “Our manager thought for a while that it would be called V5 or something like Five. In all his emails it was like “I’m so excited for V5!” and I was like that’s s**t!”
But really, there weren’t any conversations about it. The boys all knew Cherry Blossom was the one. “Sorry!” Bradley says. “That was a really boring answer to your question, but no is the answer.”
The band’s new career as boxers
“After you filmed the ‘Better’ music video, did any of you consider becoming a boxer?” Asked a passionate fan, after quickly getting her “I love you” in.
“It came to me quick that I shouldn’t take that route,” Tristan answers. “We were drinking that day and by the time we got to the boxing scenes it was a little loose, so maybe not the right focus for me. I think Brad on the other hand could go for it.”
Bradley laughs. “Maybe. If you put me in the ring just after James has just potentially lost half the album. The rage that’ll flow through me … maybe I’ll be able to step in the ring with that energy. But no, oh God no. We’re all lovers not fighters.”
All in all, it was a super exciting event and all the fans were absolutely thrilled to be there. The Vamps each engaged in not only the questions but the Zoom environment and created a very memorable experience for everyone involved. If you were lucky enough to be there, what was your highlight? We still haven’t recovered from getting lost in Bradley’s dreamy eyes … but that’s just us. Thanks for the chat, boys, and thanks to Cam Mansel for yet again being an amazing host. Until next time!
The Vamps’ fifth album ‘Cherry Blossom’ is out now. Listen below.