Vaccines infecting music scene in a hurry 

England’s rock magazine New Musical Express has already featured them on its cover several times and hailed their emergence as “the return of the great British guitar band.” The Vaccines are easily the most invigorating new outfit around, and their kinetic debut “What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?” is the best record of the year to date. By now, the story of deep-voiced frontman Justin Young is almost legendary —  how, as the acoustic-strumming Jay Jay Pistolet, he was part of London’s Mumford & Sons neo-folk scene, but failed at it so miserably he almost quit showbiz entirely, until he met equallydisenchanted electric guitarist Freddie Cowan and the potent Vaccines were born. They play The Independent Friday in a sold-out show with the Arctic Monkeys and at Outside Lands on Saturday.

What straight jobs did Jay Jay Pistolet maintain to pay the bills? Well, I did history at university and I was working at a photography studio at the time. And besides that, I worked at a map company, and before that I washed up in a pub. But I like to dress it up and tell people that I was a “ceramics technician”!

Didn’t The Vaccines do an actual pub tour of England at first? Yeah. We went on a tour of really small venues like that across the U.K., just to cut our teeth. I mean, we kind of got thrown into the deep end, so we were just trying to play every night we had off, and to play just to small rooms full of people and just fiddle with playing live as much as possible. And there were a couple of gigs where there was a frighteningly high proportion of people who were there to judge rather than enjoy the music. But this music is so enjoyable to play, I don’t think we’ve had a truly terrible gig yet.

Just like the Ramones, you guys love a good 1960s pop song, right? It’s funny, because a lot of people mention the Ramones when they talk about us. And they also mention the Jesus and Mary Chain, and they assume that they’re both big influences on us. And while we like those bands, I think more noteworthy is the fact that we like all the same stuff that they liked. So we have a similar goal, musically, because it’s coming from the same place.

Are you bracing for the backlash? Well, obviously, it’s going to come. I’m sure there are people who are already sharpening their teeth. But I’d like to think that we’ll appeal to people who hopefully don’t even know what a backlash is! So I’m excited about the path we’re on, because I think we’re a genuinely good band.


The Vaccines

Where: The Independent, 628 Divisadero St., San Francisco

When: 10 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $35; sold out


Where: Outside Lands, Twin Peaks Stage, Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park

When: 2:10 p.m. Saturday

Tickets: $185 to $450


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Tom Lanham

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