Formed in 2010, indie rock group The Vaccines are no strangers to success. The band’s freshman album was the best-selling debut album of 2011 in the UK, propelling the group into the spotlight and drawing sound comparisons to The Ramones, Jesus Mary & Chain and The Strokes. Their second album landed them at #1 on the same charts and led to their first headlining tour in 2013. Taking time out from a busy tour schedule, guitarist Freddie Cowan shares an exclusive playlist inspired by his favorite artists for this week’s Selected Sounds.
How do you find the music you listen to?
I like to find a starting point then work backwards to find the deeper roots of what I’m listening to – a lot of good stuff crops up like that. I guess that’s the old fashioned way to do it…
Mixcloud is a good one because you can see who is DJing what, which artists and other musicians are really into.
Another great way is to ask friends for mixtapes. You get all their hard trawling compacted into an hour’s worth of their own personal greatest hits. In fact compilations from friends or labels are usually where I find the most new music I like.
What is your favourite way to enjoy music?
I like walking around with my iPod on shuffle. I was in Hyde Park at dusk when an early Ray Charles recording came on. It really intensified all my senses and what I was seeing and hearing was made more beautiful by the pairing.
What excites you about finding new music?
It’s exciting to hear new innovations and people with bold ideas. I think hip hop is in such a healthy place and it’s attracting some of the best talent. It feels like its being pushed in a direction of ‘say what you want and do what you want’, rather than trying to adhere to any safe and tested structure, which I think is healthy and cultivates some of the most interesting music.
It’s similar to how jazz was in the 1950s. One person does something that totally changes the game and then somebody else takes that, rips it up and develops it into something else. It’s exciting to witness.
What tracks/and or artists comprise your personal soundtrack right now?
One artist I’m really into now is Robert Fripp. The guy is so heavy – the way he plays encapsulates everything I love about the guitar. He has great ideas and an enormous technical vocabulary, which he lends to the song, never overplays and fills the right space. All in aid of the song, rather than any kind of technical showmanship.
‘Heroes’ by David Bowie has Fripp on it – that wonderful soaring sound, totally from another world. In borrowed words, it makes the experience of listening to it almost transcendent.
Also, Paul White, a British hip hop producer who’s starting to break. What he does with his sound is amazing.
Who do you trust to give an honest evaluation of new tracks?
We trust each other really. I don’t think anyone is a harsher critic of what we do than ourselves. But we also welcome critique if it’s coming from the right place.