A GoPride Interview

Pete Robertson

The Vaccines drummer Pete Robertson talks to Jerry Nunn

Thu. February 7, 2013  by Jerry Nunn

Pete Robertson
British rock 'n' rollers The Vaccines have the cure for people that want new music similar to groups like The Strokes and the Ramones.

Justin, Arni, Freddie, and Pete came together in 2010 and soon released their debut album ‘What Did You Expect from The Vaccines?' to positive reviews. Their latest album ‘Come of Age' leads them to play their biggest gig yet in London's O2 Arena.

But before playing the UK, The Vaccines will perform a sold-out show at Chicago's Lincoln Hall.

Jerry Nunn recently talked to drummer Pete Robertson.

JN: (Jerry Nunn) Hello, Pete. Where in the world are you right now?

PR: (Pete Robertson) I'm actually in my kitchen in London in house, which is a very nice place to be.

JN: Well, it is freezing cold in Chicago so get ready.

PR: I can identify with that. We still have snow here. It is pretty but also dark and cold.

JN: You grew up in England but was the band formed there?

PR: Yes. We formed in West London. I was actually born in California but moved to England when I was five.

JN: How did you all meet?

PR: Through music. We all moved there from various parts of England and Europe. We were all in search of wanting to play music. It is a very musical and artistic city. We wanted to be a part of it I suppose. We were out playing gigs and playing music with various people that led me and Arni to play in a band together. He was a friend of Justin and then Justin brought Freddie. We all knew each other through that really. It all happened very organically.

JN: Was the name of the band a big deal to come up with?

PR: No [laughs] not really. We had about five different names for the band. We weren't concerned with calling ourselves anything. We didn't even have a name until they called us for a show and we had to get back to them on that one. We were at sound check when we came up with the name and it kind of stuck.

JN: It sounds pretty retro to go with the music.

PR: We love it. It is pretty appropriate in a way. At the time we were listening to a lot of punk, new wave bands and girl groups. We thought any one of those bands could be called The Vaccines and get away with it. We were surprised that no one else was called that.

JN: That is a surprise.

How was performing at Lollapalooza?

PR: It was very hot. [laughs] It was one of the hottest gigs I have ever done. I remember being jetlagged. We actually opened the whole festival if you remember. We were a little overwhelmed by that but excited as well. I think we had a pretty good show!

Lollapalooza is one of those festivals that you think about being prestigious. Compared to the music festivals around the world Lollapalooza is right up there. Even to be invited is a big deal.

JN: You were nominated for Best Live Act at the BRIT Awards.

PR: Yeah, that is right. It's just Coldplay, Muse, Mumford & Sons and the Rolling Stones to beat.

JN: Good luck!

PR: Should be a cinch, yeah?

JN: That is some tough competition.

PR: Being an also ran in a field like that one is a thrill. The BRIT Awards are a big mainstream event in the UK to be a part of that is cool. If there were one slot that we wanted to be in it would be that. We started this whole thing with two guitars, a bass and some drums. We wanted to make that combo seem exciting and exhilarating as it has since the birth of rock and roll. The only way to do that is by putting on good live shows. We strive to be remembered for that. To be put with those other bands it felt like a real pat on the back.

JN: I look forward to seeing the band perform at Lincoln Hall. It has been a good place to meet bands afterwards too so I hope you can hang out after.

PR: Definitely. We always try to stick around after shows. I'm glad you said that. Come say hi and grab a beer!

JN: Great. Let's talk about some of the music. I love "Tiger Blood." It was produced by one of The Strokes right?

PR: Yes, Albert Hammond, Jr. got it right with a mix of The Strokes and us. He had some time off from The Strokes and wanted to do it. It was a experiment but we were really happy how it came out.

JN: Are there any other groups you would like to mix sounds with?

PR: Obviously if Keith Richards was available we would be around in a second. There are a million bands out there that we love and appreciate. When you are such a tight knot band it is hard to let others into your inner circle but the right person sure. I would go as far to say that Albert was one of our heroes. When The Strokes came out it was era defining.


Anyone could relate to the song "Post Break-Up Sex."

PR: I think so. Lyrically I think we try to get universality into all of our songs. Regardless of who are or where you are from, what you are into, gay, straight, down the middle, everyone can relate to certain things in their lives as far as emotion, loves, heartbreaks, friendships, and all of that kind of stuff. Insecurities I think we find are the most inspiring thing to write about.

JN: Are there any gay members in the group?

PR: No we are all straight.

JN: You have a song called "Teenage Icon." Do you have a favorite teenage icon yourself?

PR: A number of them really. The first band that got me obsessed with music was Nirvana. Dave Grohl made me want to play drums.

JN: Wasn't he at the same Lollapalooza you played at as well?

PR: He was. We didn't hang out there but I have met him before.

JN: Sometimes it can be intimidating to meet your idol.

PR: Absolutely. Fortunately Dave was a lovely man. He was very cool, very attentive and very positive.

JN: Good to hear. You have a big show in London coming up at O2. Are you nervous?

PR: I haven't really come to terms with it yet I don't think. Nervous is in there but excited I think. The last concert I saw there was Prince. To be performing on the same stage as Prince is an incredible honor.

JN: We will see you when you warm up for that big gig at Lincoln Hall.

PR: Come say hi!

Get well from The Vaccines at www.thevaccines.co.uk. To see the group on their first headlining tour head over to Lincoln Hall, 2424 N Lincoln Avenue, on February 6 with details at www.lincolnhallchicago.com.

Interviewed by Jerry Nunn. Jerry Nunn is a contributing writer to the GoPride Network. His work is also featured in Windy City Times, Nightspots Magazine and syndicated nationally.