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If you follow me on Instagram (@NarzraMusicBlog), you might have seen me hinting that I interviewed Tim and Justin from The Vaccines back in October. We spoke about forgetting to stay in touch with your friends via Zoom, their brilliant side project Halloweens and The Vaccines' upcoming new album. You can find the interview below. 

Where are you at the moment?

Justin: I’m in London, in my house. In my front room. 

Tim: (I’m in) my family home. I’ve been here all year; over in Australia, Sunshine Coast.

How often do you Zoom each other? 

Tim: Probably not enough.

Justin: We never Zoom. We never really Zoom. That’s been the weird thing about being away from everyone. I don’t know. That always happens with bands. Even though we’re friends, I’d like to think, above and beyond bandmates, there’s like a weird thing with bandmates where you get so close and you get so used to seeing each other so often that I think it’s easy to forget to make an effort with each other when you don’t see each other. It’s almost like family or something, you forget to check in because you know that, if and when, this is all over you’re going to go back to seeing each other 24/7. I remember when Vaccines took the year off in 2015, I didn’t see Árni for like a year and it was this unspoken thing. It didn’t mean that we didn’t care or whatever. I guess we just knew that we’d soon (see each other again).

What have you both been upto, apart from the Halloweens EPs and album?

Justin: Yeah, I guess that took up a bit of time. From my side, I’ve been doing writing. Writing loads of new Vaccines stuff. 50% trying to stay busy and 50% not beating myself up too much about not being that busy. Tim, you’ve been doing your solo stuff, I guess.

Tim: Yeah, keeping busy with the solo stuff as well. It is kind of a weird thing. The weeks just evaporate before your eyes. I think it’s good to try and have a good attitude about taking some time off because it’s been thrust upon us. 

Justin: Yeah, it’s that paradox, isn’t it? Of making the most of this time and staying busy and creating something for yourself out of nothing but then also not being too methodical or too regimented with the creative process and the other weird thing is, obviously, the situation we’re in now…a bit like, I would say with records that are being released at the moment - there’s a few notable exceptions - but I think most of them really struggle and I think the reason why is that people aren’t able to experience the records. They’re able to listen to them but they can’t…they don’t hear the big single at a wedding or they don’t put it on on a road trip. It doesn’t soundtrack a holiday or a house party or you know a romance or whatever. You put it on while you are on the treadmill or walk to the shop and that’s your only real relationship with it. I actually think it’s kind of a similar situation when thinking about writing music because you kind of have to live life and experience life and go through these extremes to really unlock, I guess, the best of creativity. So it’s hard. I think most people I know are trying to write and trying to work hard, trying to create, but also it’s that balance of not beating yourself up too much when it doesn’t feel like the most inspiring situation. 

Photo Credit: Finn Constantine

Do you usually write when you’re on tour or is it more afterwards?

Justin: Actually, I don’t know about Tim, but I find it quite hard writing on tour. I always think of tour as the reward for writing. I like exploring and nursing hangovers and prepping for shows and all that sort of stuff more than writing for days on end. I’m always jealous of people that have that work ethic or have that inclination to write on tour. Well actually, we all just like exploring and hanging out. Or doing nothing.

Tim: I’ve definitely written in the past on tour but it’s pretty consuming being on the road. You’ve got other things on your mind and you want to see the places you’re in but if the urge comes upon me, I’ll definitely sit in a hotel room and try and get the ideas out. I’d say more often than not it’s when you’re off the road that you write.

Justin: We definitely don’t make ourselves sit down and write on the road.

With Halloweens, what difficulties have you faced in terms of cancelled shows or cancelled tours?

Tim: No tours.

Justin: Well, I mean we did have shows booked actually and the plan was to tour it this year so I guess that sucks. I don’t know about for Tim, but for me, it was hard to get too upset about that just because when all those shows got cancelled there were far greater tragedies occurring and far more stressful life events taking place. I’d almost forgotten that we were supposed to tour the record. It is frustrating because it would have been nice to take it to an audience and see what it felt like live. We’ve talked about doing another record next year so I’d be surprised if there weren’t ever Halloweens shows. I’d be disappointed if there weren’t ever Halloweens shows.

Tim: It feels sad that we didn’t have a tangible experience attached to the music we made but, I think Justin just spoke about that, relating the art that you digest to a real experience, it’s sad that that didn’t get to happen with the release of that album but it’s happened to everybody in the world, every musician, so there’s not too much you can do. You can’t get too down about it.

Personally, I’ve been really down about no live music at the moment but then it’s hard to complain because, like you said, there’s so much going on at the moment…

Justin: Yeah, but you know, I agree but it’s also easy to belittle music and the arts and live music as this kind of luxury that we’re all allowed to experience when everything’s going well but we live in a civic society, very communal beings and I think being starved of that shared experience, it’s really difficult. We hate not being able to perform. And I hate not being able to go see shows or go to bars and parties. As humans, we thrive on that shared experience so that’s a legitimate way to feel. That is your tragedy. It’s everyone’s tragedy really. I think that’s a legitimate hang-up.

Can you tell me about ‘I Never Go Out On Fridays’ and why you decided to release it when you did?

Justin: Well, I guess that was at the very beginning of the pandemic. It’s a song we always liked. Tim, had it been written for ‘Combat Sports’ or did it come just after ‘Combat Sports’?

Tim: I feel like we wrote it for ‘Combat Sports’. We had a demo for ‘Combat Sports’ and then it just didn’t make the cut. 

Justin: It’s a song we always liked and, I’d forgotten this until someone pointed out on Instagram the other day but we played it live at least once in Chicago and maybe somewhere else. It’s just one of those songs. I think most artists have this pile of songs that haven’t really fitted into any kind of release or body of work. I think we’d always liked it and then when the world shut down, we wanted to do something, we wanted to give people something and it just felt, lyrically at least, a perfect on point message. 

What is the relationship between Halloweens and The Vaccines, and do they influence each other?

Justin: I guess we’re [him and Tim] the relationship between the two. One thing I really like about writing for Halloweens is when we were writing the first record, there was no expectation or framework so it made the process a lot freer, particularly as no one knew it existed so we weren’t crippled by the fear of what fans or labels or management or other bandmates might think. It was just purely for us. For me, the really big thing, when you’re writing something, let’s take Vaccines, you’re loosely working within a five-piece and you know that certain members are going to like some things. 

Tim: I think it’s good having outlets for your creativity because it also makes you feel like…Justin and I have a tendency to write songs when we’re together that normally fit into the Halloweens camp naturally and it’s nice that when you’ve got a home for that stuff, you can still write great songs and they don’t just disappear into the music graveyard. They get a home and you move on and you keep writing. It’s nice to have pigeon-holes for your songs and you know what’s for what and I think it can release you to just write a song for a song and let it be where it needs to be. 

Justin: I think that’s what I meant. It kind of made it more obvious. ‘Oh, obviously that’s not a Vaccines song, that’s a Halloweens song and oh, that’s not a Halloweens song, that’s a Vaccines song’. It almost clears things up or something. 

So Justin, you’ve described the new album as ‘heavier’ and ‘face-melting’. What exactly does that mean?

Justin: I did say that and I think I also said it’s more pop-y. It’s a very technicolour record, I think. There’s lots of sonic depth. It’s weird because it’s definitely the heaviest record we’ve made. Hang on, I’m going to count. I’m going to look at the [laptop]. There’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight…there’s at least eight riffs on the record which I guess [before] we’ve only had one song on a record that’s had a riff, maybe. There’s riffs. It’s like heavy music but then, in other places, it’s the poppiest and the lightest we’ve been. I don’t know. It’s weird. It’s definitely the most coherent record since the first record. We’re still finishing it actually so it’s hard to kind of…

Did you record during the pandemic?

Justin: No. Well, we made the record in Texas in December last year and then we did record one extra song which is going on the record but we did it all separately. 

When are you releasing the album?

Justin: I think end of next year. There’s going to be new music towards the beginning of next year, I think. 

Is the album good?

Justin: What do you think Tim?

Tim: I think it’s amazing. We’re all really excited about it. 

Justin: I don’t know how we could have made a better record. It’s the first time I feel like…I definitely think we’re at our best on it. Not to say we can’t go on and do better things, but from the songs to the production, the arrangement to the playing, I don’t think we could have made a better song or album; the five of us, at that point in time. It’s us operating at our best. 

Tim: It came from a healthy environment as well. We just had a really nice time and separated from reality for a bit, recording, which felt very different to the previous album. It felt very creative and free and a lot of ideas flowed very quickly and the production process was different to the last one and we reaped a lot of benefits in how the album’s turned out as a whole. 

Justin: I think it sounds really fun. Very characterful and playful. It just sounds like fun. It’s not moody. 

EP REVIEW: 'in the violet hour' - Saint Clair

When Saint Clair sings, she likes to close her eyes. It allows her to embrace the catharsis of the music. At least, this was the case last year when Saint Clair (born Emma Topolski) played a rare show at London’s Colours Hoxton. The venue was small but perfectly suited the intimate nature of the performance.

Saint Clair – 'goddess' — When The Horn Blows

(Photo credit: Flore Diamant)

Last month, Saint Clair released her deeply personal visual EP ‘in the violet hour: a portrait on grief’ directed by her sister, Tamsin Topolski. The sisters collaborated following the death of their father, the rowing coach and Observer journalist Daniel Topolski, while still reeling from a broken heart. 

With its four tracks, the cohesiveness of the EP  is such that the songs amalgamate into one stunning 18-minute piece. Saint Clair explores the different stages of the grieving process. What unites ‘goddess (chapter i)’, ‘violet hour (chapter ii)’, ‘elegy in c (chapter iii)’ and ‘better (chapter iv)’ are the running themes of loss.

Having released her debut EP ‘D1’ in May 2017 and supported British band Bastille on tour in 2018, the singer-songwriter has gone from strength to strength and ‘in the violet hour: a portrait on grief’ demonstrates her further growth as an artist and the maturation of her sound. The electro-pop tinged alternative pop tracks such as ‘Simmer’ and ‘Human Touch’ have been set aside in favour of a more sophisticated sound. There is also a more experimental mood to this latest EP, especially in reference to the eastern-inspired beats on ‘violet hour’. The tracks on ‘in the violet hour: a portrait on grief’ are still as catchy as her previous works, however they also showcase Saint Clair’s evolution as an artist.

‘in the violet hour: a portrait on grief’, named after a line from T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’, begins with a voicemail message. It is a pretty generic message (“can you please leave your message and telephone number and I’ll call you back”) but it is the voice of Topolski’s father, which makes it a hard listen. From the beginning, we are exposed to an underlying vulnerability. 

Saint Clair talks fashion 'in the violet hour' | LDNFASHION

Next, we follow a tarantula as it crawls from the living room into the family kitchen. The visuals are uncomfortable to watch in their disjointed nature. The lonely piano keys of the opening track are suspenseful and unnerving. Meanwhile, in the kitchen, we find the ‘goddess’ dressed in a black couture funeral dress. This is also where the song really comes into its own. ‘goddess (chapter i)’ is an alternative pop track. “Heartache / What have you done to us?,” she asks. The question is direct and there is no closing of the eyes now. The chorus is upbeat yet Saint Clair’s lyrics are steeped in melancholy: ”When you’re lying on the kitchen floor / Nothing’s godly anymore”. Saint Clair sings about being “bulletproof” but also “afraid”. It’s a very honest track.

In ‘violet hour (chapter ii),’ she says she feels like she’s in a “daydream”. The visuals were inspired by Cillian Murphy’s character in the 2019 play ‘Grief Is the Thing With Feathers’. Saint Clair finds herself with feather-like wings. “You couldn’t be there for me,” she sings angrily on the R&B-influenced. 

‘elegy in c’ is the highlight of this already brilliant EP. We hear audio from private family home videos, reminding the audience that the memory of her father is at the heart of her work. The opening lines of the song are especially heartbreaking. “I only miss you when I’m breathing / I’d miss you if I’d never seen your face before”.  Her delicate, soulful vocals allow for understanding and encourage empathy from her audience. The chorus continues to describe her pain: “I couldn’t miss you any more”. Throughout ‘in the violet hour: a portrait on grief’ the lyrics are explicit in the sense that there is not left for interpretation. Her words are clear and direct. 

In the film, Saint Clair sits on the edge of a pristine white bathtub, dripping in purple paint and looking numb. Defeated. She washes the paint off in a scene which represents acceptance. Then, a change of tone occurs as she sings: “When I’m alone in the night / Is the time I ignite all the sad thoughts of you / And the memories too”.

Later, Saint Clair ritualistically burns her father’s possessions such as a gold medal. She actually did this which shows that there are blurred lines between her art and her ‘real life’. 

After the emotional heaviness of ‘elegy in c (chapter iii)’, ‘better (chapter iv)’ is sonically lighter but lyrically just as devastating (“Somehow you lost your way / Can’t find the words to say / Inside you feel that everything around you is breaking / But I’m better ‘cos of you”). She sings softly before showcasing her powerhouse vocals. 

She ends with a quote from American astronomer Carl Sagan: “In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, it is my joy to share a planet and an epoch with [you]”. Saint Clair articulates the familiar feelings that come with grief in a relatable yet bittersweet way in this very real, non-romanticised look at grief.

‘In the violet hour’ is available on all major streaming services. 





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Following on from a massively successful debut in May of this year, online music festival Five4Five Fest has today not only announced that the festival is returning and will be taking place digitally on the 18th and 19th of December, but also announced that the festival headliners will be non-other than Brighton Rock band Yonaka and Welsh rockers Holding Absence.


Five4Five Fest hit our screens back in May and originally aimed to showcase five artists each night with an encouraged donation of £5 to NHS Charities Together.  Due to overwhelming support from the industry, more bands were added to the line-up in May and the festival raised over £50k.  Continued support from awesome artists and the industry means the festival is back with an incredible twenty-one band bill and new charity beneficiary; Music Venue Trust’s #saveourvenues crisis fund - raising money to save the grassroots venues we know and love from closure due to Covid-19 restrictions. 


Joining Yonaka and Holding Absence are The Dangerous Summer, Normandie, Vukovi, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Lizzy Farrall, Hacktivist, Delaire The Liar, Nova Twins, Holiday Oscar, Chapter and Verse, Snake Eyes, As Everything Unfolds, Weatherstate, The Rhythm Method, Tally Spear, Stay Free, Anavae, Paper Mill and Haggard Cat


Yonaka comments; "We are dead excited to be headlining this festival. It’s for a great cause for everyone to get involved in, saving the grassroots venues that we have all had a great time in. We all want to get sweaty and moshy again so do what you can to help and enjoy the show!”


Holding Absence comments; "After what has been the longest year for all of us musicians, Holding Absence are extremely excited to be blowing off the cobwebs and headlining Five4Five fest this December! We all individually tuned in and enjoyed the first one so are honoured to be a part of it this time around, especially as all the proceeds are going towards something as close to our hearts as the Music Venue Trust.”


The festival also announces that once the bands have finished, some of the UKs best club DJs will close out each night by DJing afterparties.  Friday 18th will see Zoe London smash out a club night of Alt bangers whilst Saturday 19th will see Tasmin Taylorcloses out the festival. 


A mixture of full band, solo/duo and completely reimagined performances will be streamed via the Five4Five website/Youtube/Facebook from 7:30pm each evening.  The show will be public and completely free, those watching will be encouraged to donate £5 via a fundraising link provided at the time.  All profits will be donated to the MVT #saveourvenues crisis fund


Mark Davyd, Music Venue Trust comments; “Since March, Music Venue Trust has been fighting to ensure we reopen every grassroots music venue safely. Through a huge effort by artists, audiences and communities, many of our vital iconic venues are now safe, but there's still more work to do with some venues at real risk of permanently closing before the crisis ends.”


Along with standalone donations, festival viewers will also be able to donate to buy fixed price Five4Five Fest merch including T-shirts and posters.  They will also be able to donate to buy a raffle ticket entering them into a competition to win a whole host of great prizes including money can’t buy signed items from artists, merch and bundles donated by festival sponsors including Vans and Signature Brew’s ‘pub in a box’.  More information on the exclusive raffle prizes to be announced.


Five4Five Fest was born as fans and bands alike faced a summer without festivals and returns as the country faces the festive period without shows, pledging support to do everything in their power to help #saveourvenues. 


Tom Pullen, Five4Five Fest co-founder comments; The past, present and future of the UK music industry relies on grassroots, independent music venues. We at Five4Five can’t stand by and watch as our venues are left to weather the Covid-19 crisis on their own. We’re proud to partner up with the Music Venue Trust to help ensure they can reopen safely, so we can go back to the loud and sweaty spaces where it all begins. In the meantime, we’ve gathered some of the finest acts to enjoy from the comfort of your own sofa. We hope you enjoy and donate if you can.



Website -

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Facebook/Twitter/Instagram - @five4fivefest