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The Vaccines tell us about ‘Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations’

'It just felt like we'd captured something more human and maybe even more rough around the edges again.'

By Nick Reilly

The Vaccines (Picture: Wrenne Evans)

As The Vaccines gear up to release their sixth album this Friday, Justin Young has opened up on how elements of melancholy and nostalgia are at the fore of the band’s latest chapter, as well as creating their first record since the departure of original guitarist Freddie Cowan.

Set for release this Friday, Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations is full of the band’s irrepressible guitar-pop spirit, but it comes tempered with a sense of longing too.

The title, for instance, comes from a misheard lyric from Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ – which itself channels the death of the American Dream in the 1960s.

“One thing I really like about the cover art is I’m driving this sloped road and you can’t see if I’m looking ahead of me or in the rear view mirror and in life I often wonder which one I’m doing,” said Young.

“There’s been nostalgia in the Vaccines’ music and I’m someone that suffers from a lot of it, but it’s a lot clearer here. “

Recorded in LA, Young says the record is “rough around the edges” and boasts a stronger sense of the band’s DNA, after they received decisive advice from producer Andrew Wells.

“I really wasn’t sure what kind of record it should be. I had ideas and things I wanted to say, but I didn’t how to present them,” admitted Young.

“But when I wrote ‘Love To Walk Away’ with Andrew and he’d been a fan of the band, he’d grown up going to watch us in LA. Before we wrote that song, he said to me ‘these are the reasons I loved The Vaccines and as a fan, this specific sounds are what I’d find inspiring’. I don’t know if that unlocked something in me, but pretty much from that day onwards I knew we had to make this record. I know people will roll your eyes when you say it’s indie rock, but it just felt like we’d captured something more human and maybe even more rough around the edges again.”

The record is also notable for the absence of founding guitarist Freddie Cowan, who left the group in 2023, shortly before Young began recording the latest album.

“I think in many ways we’re as close as we, we’ve ever been,” he said of Cowan’s departure.

“I’m supposed to be best man at his wedding, so I think he still likes me! I wrote a song that he produced for an artist the other day, so I guess in a way we’re still making music together, we’re just not going through the music stuff together.”

He added: “It was pretty obvious for a good couple of years that he didn’t want to be there, but no one’s having that conversation and it weighs you down a bit. When someone says they do want to leave, it’s a relief because you can regroup and make sure that the remaining four, in this case, still want to do it.”

Now, twelve years since releasing their debut album, they’re just gearing up to play to the fans have stuck with them throughout.

“One thing I will say is that the longer this band goes on, the luckier I feel that people still care and that we have an audience that lets us fill and sell out the same size venues we always have. I can’t tell you how good that feels.”

The Vaccines’ Pick-Up Full of Pink Carnations is out this Friday.