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Weekend: The Vaccines guitarist Freddie Cowan on staying immune from the excesses of success

ONE of the UK’s biggest bands, The Vaccines, has been spending a lot of time away from our shores lately.

Following the release of latest record Combat Sports after an extended wait, it’s catapulted them to the next level of success. They’re playing a special show in London, at Goose Island’s LDN Block Party, and guitarist Freddie Cowan is looking forward to some time at home.

‘We haven’t played in London for a while. It’s always nice to play at home, when you’re just a taxi ride away from your bed!’ he laughs. ‘We’ve been all over touring with Imagine Dragons in Eastern Europe, Istanbul, Lisbon…

‘We played the stadium in Moscow where they had the World Cup final, and our dressing room was France’s locker room. It had the stud marks on the table from where they were celebrating after their win,’ he recalls.

They’ve been in Istanbul too, he’s calling from Madrid, and they’ll soon be off to Mexico. Do they ever get used to the jet-set life? ‘We spend a lot of time in airports and in the back of cars, where things can get a bit tedious,’ he says carefully. ‘I think I’ve been nonchalant a few times and it’s never served me well.

‘What you’re doing on a daily basis might become a bit mundane, but your actual purpose for being there, to perform, you can never approach it with that casual attitude and get away with it.

‘You’re filling the big boots of people alongside you, or that have performed before or after you. Nobody is that good, or that popular, that they can just not make an effort.’

Live energy: Freddie Cowan says The Vaccines are a ‘tsunami of noise’

The LDN Block Party show will see road closures around Bethnal Green, with the band being joined by Dream Wife, Willie J Healey, Laura Misch, Ghostpoet and more plus plenty of Goose Island beers.

Freddie says people should brace themselves for The Vaccines’ live show. ‘It’s like a tsunami of noise and energy. When we make music we’re very self-critical and we have a short attention span. If we don’t think it’s brilliant in the moment then we don’t keep it.

‘We’re like a pinball machine, we’re frenetic and fast, like an aggressive ballet’ he grins. Maybe leave the tutus at home though.

With success comes recognition, and it’s something Freddie still isn’t used to yet. ‘I have a weird relationship with being in a known band because I expect there to be lots of people there when we walk out onstage. But if anyone comes up to me in the street or recognises me or asks for a picture, I just can’t process that,’ he pauses. ‘It’s so difficult to see it on a one-to-one basis that we’re a popular band.

‘We heard one of our songs on the radio in Milan and it was sandwiched between some pop songs, which was definitely weird for us.

‘The novelty never wears off about hearing your songs on the radio, but this tour with what’s essentially a pop band and the past few months have made us think about what’s next.’

So what has the band got planned? ‘We’ve made some new music already, we took some time a few weeks ago to record them, I hope that comes out soon and then we’ll do it again’ says Freddie.

He thinks the way we consume music is changing, back to how it used to be. ‘In the 1960s, with the Beatles or the Stones, you’d have two albums a year and the singles wouldn’t be on the album. I think the consumption is a lot less precious now.

‘Don’t sacrifice the quality but make it more spontaneous and experimental. Fun is the key word. Get in the studio, record it and release it — it’s anyone’s game. I want to be playful with it.’ It’s good to have them back.

Saturday 22 September, The Oval, Bethnal Green,