When James McVey and Brad Simpson first started writing music a few years ago... little did they know, that along with soon-to-be-found new members Tristan Evans and Connor Ball, The Vamps would soon become one of the UK’s biggest exports in music. “When we first started out,” remembers James, “we just wanted to make music and have fun. We had absolutely no idea that we would have even a small amount of the success that has come our way already... and we’re still only just getting started!” And success they have had. The Vamps only released their debut album just over a year ago, and have gone on to have five top ten hits in the UK - not bad for a group of lads that just wanted to make music.
Bradley Will "Brad" Simpson (born 28 July 1995, from Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands). He sings lead vocals and plays guitar. He met James Daniel McVey (born 30 April 1994 from Bournemouth in Dorset) via YouTube, and the duo began writing together. James, for those that don’t know, plays lead guitar and sings backing vocals. They needed a drummer and found Tristan Oliver Vance Evans (born 15 August 1994, from Exeter in Devon). He was discovered on Facebook and became the third member of the as yet un-named group. But the group was not to be completed without the addition of bass player Connor Samuel John Ball (born 15 March 1996 in Aberdeen, Scotland but later moved to Warwickshire) via a mutual friend! The Vamps were born!
In 2013, The Vamps had their very first gig... playing as the support act for McFly on their Arena tour, something that, to this day, they still can’t quite believe. “Obviously you have aspirations at the beginning,” says Brad, “You dream of playing massive shows, but we were so lucky because the first thing we did was go on tour with McFly.”
“And to be thrown into that and survive”, adds Connor, “is ridiculous!” Following a successful debut support slot, came the release of their debut single 'Can We Dance' in September. The song itself went to number two in the charts but within two weeks of the video being released earlier on, it had already received over 1 million views. The song was only kept from the top of the pile by One Republic’s Counting Stars, “We were gutted,” says Tris, “but we only missed out on the top spot by just over a thousand sales to one of the biggest selling songs that year!” So they took their debut success and went on to reveal Wild Heart (the first original song that the boys actually put up on YouTube) which went on to peak at number three.
Touring with Taylor Swift on her Red tour followed, and saw the boys in their element... not only were they playing live arena gigs, but they were supporting James’ idol. “We supported Taylor Swift, and I am, as everybody knows by now, a big Taylor Swift fan, so for me that was a big thing,” said James, “But she was the sweetest, loveliest person and we learnt a lot from her on that tour. How to treat people nicely, how to put on an amazing show for the audience... she really was an amazing person to work with.” Debut album Meet The Vamps was released, followed by single 'Last Night', both of which went to number two in the charts. And the boys also joined forces with Demi Lovato and released 'Somebody To You' which went top 5, they also went on to spend the summer in America touring with fellow US singer Austin Mahone “For us, that was like having to start all over again, recalls Brad, “because nobody knew us out there.” Connor agrees, “We had to go in hard and be as tight as we could because we had to up the game.”
“When we came back,” adds Tris, “people were saying how tight the performances were because we’d been working so hard in America to perform at 110%. It taught us that you can never be complacent and that you have to play your future gigs even better than playing your first gig!” On their return to the UK, The Vamps joined forces with Vine sensation Shawn Mendes for a cover of 'Oh Cecilia (Breaking My Heart)'. And that wasn’t all 2014 had to offer... Brad, Connor, James and Tris won a whopping three awards in the BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards, Friday Download’s Best Breakthrough, Best British Group and Best British Single for Last Night. What a way to end the year!
So 2015 saw The Vamps start their year by completing their Asia-Pacific 2015 Tour. Taking in Manila, Tokyo and Australia, “Man, that was crazy,” reveals Tris. “We didn’t even realise we were so popular out there...we knew we had a big worldwide following online, but it wasn’t until we got out to these countries that we could see just how far our fanbase was.” Their social media presence is something to behold. With an incredible 230 million views across YouTube and VEVO, and almost a million YouTube subscribers, 4.4 million likes on Facebook and 3 million followers on Twitter, that’s a lot of fans worldwide to get excited about.
And if worldwide success wasn’t enough, the boys have now added a record label to their repertoire. “We are so excited about this” tells Brad, “we can finally put in to someone else, all the experience and lessons we have learnt along the way to help an artist from the word go.” The Vamps label is a joint venture with the lads’ record label EMI/Universal, and according to the boys they will be responsible for A&R – discovering and developing new talent, signing them, and working closely with the artist to write and produce their music. “Hopefully,” says Connor, “We will be taking the acts on tour and supporting them along the way, it’s our way of giving something back to other artists who are trying to make it.”
Their first signing to the label is American teen guitar band The Tide. “We helped Tide member Austin Corini put the band together,” reveals James, “and they are going to be so great, I really hope the fans will get behind and support them the same way that they have supported us.” Next up, it’s The Vamps 2015 UK Arena Tour. Did they think they would get this far? Tris reveals, “We didn’t really, but then we didn’t set out to have a top five hit, we just wanted to make music so we tried to do it in stages and see how we did. Now we are working everyday but its fun. We’re either at the recording studio, travelling the world or playing shows but who could complain about that?”
“It doesn’t feel like a job at all,” adds Connor, “And we can’t thank anyone but the fans, because without all of you, The Vamps wouldn’t even be here!” And of course, with a European tour, new music plus the second album to come, The Vamps are showing no signs of slowing down. Brad reveals, “We are so excited for the future, and that just makes us want to get even better at what we do. Making music is what we set out to do, and making more music is what we’re going to keep on doing.” Excited to be part of the journey? You better be!