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Interview: ‘Brash synth and rock & roll are our roots’ – The Vaccines return to Hong Kong’s Clockenflap Festival

Next month, Hong Kong festivalgoers will be treated to a four-piece indie rock band entering their prime, as The Vaccines touch down at Clockenflap Festival. After a stint touring with Imagine Dragons, it will be the band’s first stop on their Asia tour.

Speaking to HKFP last week, bassist Árni Árnason said their new album Combat Sports was born out of a long process: “We sort of released [it] at a really strange time. We did a UK run pretty much the same time the album came out, and we’ve just been doing a handful of festivals to gauge the reaction… since it’s been out for a few months.”

The Vaccines in London,

The Vaccines in London, 2015. Photo: Wikicommons.

The band have matured since their formation in 2010, but Árnason said their latest record was the result of them changing their minds about their sound three or four times: “What we particularly learned from the process… was to carry on defining what we want to be – what we’re good at, and what we’re not good at.”

“We are equal parts artists and entertainers,” he said.

Brash synth rock

Despite it being their fourth studio album, Árnason said it was important that Combat Sports remained faithful to the band’s roots, “…reminding ourselves what got us into it the first time round. Particularly brash synth and rock and roll music. I think that’s what the band is, and what the band should be.”

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See also: Final Clockenflap 2018 line-up announced – Jarvis Cocker, DJ Irvine Welsh, join this year’s bill

He admits that they still long for experimentation every once in a while, and their personal pursuits outside of the band allow them to flex their creative muscles.

It won’t be the first time the band has been to Hong Kong – they first played Clockenflap during the Umbrella Movement protests in 2014, and spent a day at one of the protest camps.

Though this visit will be for one night only, Árnason says they are looking forward to returning to the city: “Festival crowds are a mixture of people who like you, or are brought there. There’s an evangelical element to playing festivals and we like the challenge – it’s good fun.”


Clockenflap opens Friday, Nov 9, 5pm-11pm, and continues on Saturday, Nov 10 and Sunday, Nov 11, noon till 11pm. Tickets available in Hong Kong and worldwide via Ticketflap. Available in China via 247tickets. Discount codes available for today only (Wednesday, October 31): Weekend: CF18SDWKND, Fri: CF18SDFRI, Sat / Sun: CF18SDSS.

Interview: 'Brash synth and rock & roll are our roots' - The Vaccines return to Hong Kong's Clockenflap Festival