Ipswich: The Vamps ready to sink their teeth into East Coast Live gig

The Vamps, playing East Coast Live this June

The Vamps, playing East Coast Live this June - Credit: Archant

It’d be very easy to label The Vamps as just another boy band, but there’s more to Bradley Will Simpson, James McVey, Tristan Evans and Connor Ball.

“All of us have been in lots of bands; done lots of pub gigs and stuff. It’s really important for us to be viewed as musicians and songwriters... we’d love to be compared to bands like McFly over bands like One Direction,” says guitarist James.

“While we respect bands like One Direction, we write a lot of our songs, play instruments.. we want to be recognised as being a band. But if people want to see us as a boy band, then that’s cool, too. We just want to record the album and tour our songs.”

Playing Ipswich’s Chantry Park as part of East Coast Live on June 28, they already have a serious online following. Their YouTube channel has nearly 250,000 subscribers with their videos getting more traffic than Little Mix, Lawson and Union J.

“I think it got really crazy for us when I noticed 15million people had watched our videos,” says James. “I thought, ‘Oh my God’. But we’re not thinking about any of that.” “When we got 1,000 followers we were really happy,” remembers Tristan. “Then we had 2,000, 5,000, 10,000... it kept going up and up and up.”

The Vamps, whose debut single Can We Dance reached number on the UK singles chart, owe a lot to the internet.

Looking for a singer in the summer of 2012, James scoured online demos and cover versions; stumbling across Bradley, 16, an indie fan with a neat line in Ed Sheeran covers, on YouTube.

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“I did loads of solo covers and songs when I was 14-15,” says Bradley. “I would cover The Specials and the Arctic Monkeys and put my versions on YouTube. That’s when James found me and got in touch. For six months we’d meet up and write songs together.”

Tristan, 18, a finalist in the 2010 UK Drummer of the Year competition, got in touch after seeing Brad and James’ videos online - “We saw him on YouTube and thought ‘Let’s get him in - he’s amazing’,” remembers Brad. Completing the line-up last January was bassist Connor, 17, the frontman in his own band.

“We’re very lucky, we owe a lot to the internet... it’s enabled us to have a fanbase, and quite an international one, from day one. It’s not an understatement to say without it, we wouldn’t be a band,” says James.

“We’ve been able to put our music online without any real trouble and got our videos in front of a big audience. It used to be that bands had to wander around record stores and TV stations begging to have their music heard.”

The one thing they did have trouble with was what to call themselves.

“Me and Brad were stuck for names, we’re not very good at naming things – we haven’t even named our album yet and it’s coming out in April,” laughs James. “We were throwing a few names around with our manager and The Vamps was one of the names we were thinking about. We weren’t even going to stick with it but we started having meetings with record labels and before we knew it that was it and we couldn’t change it. We’ve grown to like the name a lot more, we feel it’s the name for us.”

Recording a string of covers in their home studios including One Direction’s Little Things, Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Getting Back Together and Bruno Mars’ When I Was Your Man; major label interest soon followed and EMI signed them in November 2012.

A sign of their success came when airing several their original tracks while supporting McFly, ending with a sold-out show in front of 12,000 fans at London’s Wembley Arena.

“It was like a dream come true,” says Bradley. “We only really came together properly a while ago. Then our YouTube covers exploded, we supported McFly at Wembley and people were singing our own songs back at us. Somebody had filmed them the night before, put them online and the fans had learned the words before the next gig. It was insane.”

They can’t wait to play East Coast Live alongside Jessie J, Jason Derulo, Rizzle Kicks, The Saturdays, Union J and other acts still be revealed.

“We guarantee we’ll be playing songs no-one’s heard yet. Hopefully we’ll have had even more practice playing live because we’ll have gone on tour with The Wanted in March; they’re nice guys and we like playing football with them so hopefully we’ll be able to do that a lot,” laughs James.

“Our own tour should hopefully have been announced by then, our second single Wild Heart is out in January... we’re really looking forward to travelling to new places and playing more shows for fans; hopefully people will enjoy our set.”

He’s full of praise for their fans.

“A massive thank you for all your support. I know its quite clichéd to thank fans but we feel The Vamps is something that’s not just four guys - it’s thousands of people, all the fans contribute so much we like to say we’re all in a massive band together,” he laughs.