It’s the time of year when artists and bands from around the world descend on our little piece of paradise for some fun in the sun, and I’ll wager Árni Árnason, bass player for The Vaccines, may be in need of a little vitamin D when he touches down in Victoria in a few weeks.
“I’m currently in my cabin at home in Reykjavik, Iceland. It’s on the shore of Faxa Bay,” he adds. “We have a fire and it’s warm and relaxing.”
Árnason and his fellow Vaccines deserve a little time off. Thanks to the release of their fourth studio album Combat Sports, they have cemented their place as one of Britain’s most enduring and much-loved bands of the new millennium. “I think we’re getting better with age, and we’re best at putting on ruckus rock‘n’roll shows,” he adds.
“And now that we’re four albums in, we have so many more songs to choose from that we have really improved our live shows – especially the big festival sets.”
The Vaccines are no strangers to playing to large, sold-out crowds. Earlier this year they opened for The Rolling Stones, after impressing Mick and Keith earlier in their career.
“This time around the request came directly from The Rolling Stones camp. The other time we supported them it was organised via a promoter – so we must have done something right.” he laughs.
“We were so honoured to be there and to be a part of it, and their show is just unbelievable. It was amazing to see. Even just for the free ticket we were so happy – it was so cool.”
It seems The Vaccines are such fans of the Stones they even named a song after them on their latest album. “I don’t think we actually played that song. I can’t remember but we probably should have,” he smiles.
With that, you can’t help but wonder if The Vaccines crave the kind of longevity The Stones have enjoyed? “I don’t really know if anybody should. They are not even a once in a generation success, their success is staggering – a one-off in the history of popular music, you know?
“Keeping a band together is not easy,” he adds, “and I think it’s fair to say we’ve had a few difficult years.” Back in 2016 founding member and drummer Pete Robertson left the band and while they tried to make a three-piece work, touring musicians Yoann Intonti and Timothy Lanham were officially asked to join them later the same year. Shutting down rumours their album title Combat Sports was a hint about band in-fighting. Árnason adds, “Now we’re happy as a five-piece and can’t wait to play these shows over the New Year.”
Now that was cleared up, I couldn’t help but ask about another theory going around – that Combat Sports was actually named as a nod to their favourite fighting duo Connor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather. “We actually watched that when we were together in Iceland – that was the first and only time I’ve ever watched two men beat each other up, and it wasn’t particularly enjoyable. I can say that the title of the album has got absolutely nothing to do with that.”
Árnason says they plan to indulge in non-combat sports while they’re here for a week or two.
“Whenever we make it all the way down to Australia we always manage to get a couple of days off – which is a luxury. In a lot of other countries it’s just in-and-out but I think we will have a few days off so it will be nice.
“Then I think we are going to be heading back to England to work on new music. So I don’t know if there will be much rest and relaxation on the cards, so I’ll have to make the most of my cabin right now.”