Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom

When it came to making Cherry Blossom, The Vamps felt it was time to craft their definitive statement. Over the course of three previous albums, Brad Simpson (vocals, guitar), James McVey (guitar), Tristan Evans (drums) and Connor Ball (bass) have amassed a diehard fanbase with their blend of slick power-pop sing-alongs, buoyant EDM-tinged anthems and heartfelt balladry. But now it was time to reach a new creative peak. “There was a bar set with this album,” Simpson tells Apple Music. “We were like, ‘We want this to be the best album that we’ve written.’” The quartet say the record’s title is a reflection of their desire for sonic reinvention. “It feels like a slight departure from where we left off,” explains McVey. “I think the speed of it, the reimagination of the band that we want to be, is relevant as well. We wanted to take it back to what The Vamps always was in our minds, which at the core of it is a conventional instrument band. That’s what’s important for us.” Cherry Blossom is their most direct album yet, a concise set of stomping synth-pop that draws on the explosive dynamism of their live show. They sound more like a band than ever. Glory Days (Intro) Brad Simpson: “At the beginning of [2020], me and Tristan went to LA and got an Airbnb. We went in and there was an upright piano in there. We were like, ‘We've got to put this piano on the album, man. It's meant to be.’ We recorded the melody on the piano as a voice note off one of our phones.” Tristan Evans: “We loved that hook and we wanted to just create a little intro to kind of explain the sonics of the album early on.” Glory Days BS: “We were all in a really good place as a band. I just remember there being a really positive energy, and I had my mates from home in my head as well, and it was this idea of just being like, ‘Fuck, I'm in a really good place, I want to write a really positive song.’ It was like that moment of ‘Put your phone down, chill out with the people that you love and that you're happy with and surround yourself with positive people.’ It's overarchingly quite a positive and uplifting album, and ‘Glory Days’ sets the tone of that straight from the off.” Better BS: “A lot of the things that are on the album is either just us or working with people that are friends first, collaborators later. So these two guys we’ve known for years called [songwriter/producers] Jack & Coke were in London. We went and had two days with them, and ‘Better’ was one of the songs that was written. It's written in the context of a relationship and set in the tone of, like, ‘Oh, OK, we fell in love, now we've fallen apart, but do you even notice?’. It's about that idea of going, ‘I can be confident and do those things that I want to do from within.’ You've got that ability to pull yourself out of a negative place.” Married in Vegas James McVey: “We really wanted to come back with a statement, and this song was completely written, produced and released during lockdown. We love all the songs on the album, but we really felt like we needed something punchy. We handed in the album and literally that night I got a FaceTime from Brad. I think he was barely clothed. He was really drunk and he’d just written a song. It genuinely was that moment where we were like, ‘OK. This is the single.’ It just made sense immediately, and from that one night, the entire campaign changed. We sent the song to the record label that night and I think by the next evening, we'd all agreed that was the single coming out in a few weeks. Just a bizarre turn of events with this song.” BS: “I think ‘Married in Vegas’ is like the most grand, extroverted version of the songs on the album. It’s like the fun uncle of the album.” Chemicals BS: “‘Chemicals’ was the first song that we did. We wanted to work with [UK producer] Lostboy for ages, and he's helped a lot on this album. He's a really talented guy. It was him and Tom Mann. A lot of these songs started from guitar riffs. I think this is the one that set the tone of the production and the sonics of the album down to the vocal production—saturated, gritty, wide-open automated reverbs. That was really something that came around after ‘Chemicals’. It's a really important song for the album.” Would You JM: “I think ‘Would You’ was really interesting for me because I'm a big fan of John Mayer and the very early demo that Brad first put together made me think of John Mayer.” BS: “It started off on the Rhodes and then I knew that I wanted to have the verse and the pre-chorus really wide ’80s atmospheric, and that's where the Rhodes and the electric really do it. I got the production to a place and then Tris dropped his sauce on top of it.” TE: “Little bit of seasoning, a little bit of spice.” BS: “I think we could do another album in a similar style to this. I wanted it to sound like Ryan Gosling in Drive. Really, really proud of this one.” Bitter TE: “We were in LA and we were actually hanging out with [singer-songwriter] JHart. We were recording vocals for a song called ‘Protocol’ and we were kind of doing other odd bits and he came up and then I remember [we] just started jamming out ‘Bitter’. I think it just came together really naturally and we kind of went back and forth.” BS: “‘Bitter’ was really, really close for ages, but it always was missing something, and then the four of us just went to the studio and were like, ‘Should we just do gang vocals?’ That was literally the thing that made it go from 90% to 100% finished.” Part of Me JM: “Even though it wasn't one of the first songs that was written for the album, it was one of the first times that we wrote something together that really helped steer us in a slightly different direction. I think this song is really important because of that, but also it captures a moment of bonding during this album cycle that I think we really needed. We rented a few Airbnbs and it was a case of turning up with all the equipment, shutting the door for a week and not having anyone else involved in the music. It was the only real song that came from that.” BS: “I was listening to a lot of HAIM in like the six months leading up to the album, and this is just trying to rip off HAIM, basically.” Protocol JM: “I'm really into country music, so most of what I write on my own sort of skews to that genre. And we put a demo together that sounded slightly country. And then we went in just before the album needed to be submitted. Tristan booked a day at Metropolis just drumming on every single song, and he put live drums on 'Protocol'. And I think his take reinvented the whole song so much that we actually took everything out of the production. It's always amazing putting a song into the pot and seeing what you get on the other side.” Nothing But You BS: “I went in to finish something with Lostboy and then just started working on something and had kind of the beginning of the chorus, which is like, ‘Break into my new apartment and take the damn keys.’ Having a super rhythmic melody means that you don't need to do that much because it carries through the song for us. And it's fun. It's just about giving your all to someone or giving someone everything and saying you can do as you wish, that feeling of falling in love and going like, ‘You can take from me everything that you want.’” Treading Water BS: “We went out to LA for a string of sessions but none of the songs ended up being right for us. I wrote it at the Standard Hotel in Hollywood, which we've had so many good memories at. I got back after a session and felt quite negative about a few things. It can be quite lonely being out there on your own. And then going into session day in and day out and not feeling like you're getting the songs that you want to get can be quite a demotivating thing. So this was just a moment of sitting in the hotel room, writing a song on acoustic, stripping it right back. It feels like the perfect end to the album because the last lyric is ‘First off I'll work on me.’ It's ending on that idea of not using that feeling as a negative one, not sitting in that negative space, but going, 'I've got to just work on this, not only for me, but for the people around me.' The album starts with ‘Glory Days’ and this really positive thing, and it ends similarly on a positive slant.”

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