Image: RenegadeMusic

“We like to have a lot of fun on stage live, it’s like a big party”: an interview with Vacations

I join a Zoom call with Nate from the band Vacations, who is halfway across the world in Australia. The lead guitarist from the four-piece band is enjoying a brief stint at home in between the band’s tours of the UK, Asia, and the US. The indie-pop-synth band from New South Wales, Australia are characterised by their woozy, dreamy sound since their founding in 2015.

Nate describes the new album with a sort of paradox: “We’re trying to make lo-fi music, but making it clean and sound like pop music if that makes sense”. It’s a statement that can be understood when listening to the album’s first single ‘Next Exit’, which captures the longing for a specific person, while the backing instrumentation is fast and instantly enjoyable. It’s a perfect summer song. The album as a whole however maintains the chilled sound recognisable from their earliest music and 2016 EP Vibes. “It’s definitely half and half, there’s definitely sad elements, slower songs, but also upbeat pop synth sounds, we love the idea of making happy music with sadder lyrical parts”.

Myself having been touched by some of their lyricism, I ask him if they consider how their music will be received by the listener. “The best part of it is knowing that everyone will have their own interpretations of the songs, like, how it makes them feel, them putting their own story onto it, their own situation, that’s always something that we’ve really considered, because that’s only gonna make the song more interesting. We can only go so far putting our own story and feelings into it, and it’s good to give that to the audience and see what they come up with”.

The band were taken aback by the loyalty of UK fans after such a long time away

A lot of the album’s tracks were inspired by their time on tour in the US. Second single ‘Midwest’ is an obvious case, but it blends the geography with personal experiences, and relationships, as vocalist Campbell Burns sings: “And as I drove across the Midwest/ I rehearsed our memories in the rearview”. It’s Nate’s favourite track from the album, that or the next coming single which he is excited to put out. Their last tour had a wild west theme, with red and yellow lighting, and cowboy outfits, but Nate says they like to change things up every time.

We talk about the band’s influences, from their origins to recent album releases. The band’s sound has been compared to Mac DeMarco, who they say has been a great inspiration. His April 199-song album sparks a conversation, as it’s something that only such a legacy artist can get away with. Yet we agree it will be interesting to see how other artists use the soundbites from the tracks in their own music. Overall however the band’s music has developed, after eight years of being together: “We were very inspired by Mac DeMarco back in the day but it’s something we don’t really strive for anymore, we have our own sound, there are a lot of other artists who influence how we’re writing now and the music we’re putting out now”.

An internet search of the band will come back with their 2016 song ‘Young’, which went viral on TikTok in 2021

What the band is listening to may not always be recognisable in their sound, but it all feeds into their approach to making music. “There’s this album called Private Space by Durand Jones and the Indications (2021) which I’ve been listening to a lot during this process… It’s not necessarily how our music will sound in any way, but it’s definitely opened my head up a little bit more musically, with the elements they use”.

The band have recently got back from a UK tour in May. It was their first time returning to the UK since five years ago, as the band were unable to tour their 2020 album Forever in Bloom because of Covid. This album is different too because of that, “Doing this now it feels like we’re not necessarily talking about experiences being stuck at home, but its more talking about what we can do now, what we are doing, and all those experiences now”. The band were taken aback by the loyalty of UK fans after such a long time away. “I also loved how the crowds – they’re football fans… it’s very fun hearing everyone chant”. He didn’t want to leave the UK, but it won’t be long until they return in August to play London’s All Points East.

An internet search of the band will come back with their 2016 song ‘Young’, which went viral on TikTok in 2021. Nate says he feels a bit out of the TikTok age, but that it would be great for one of their songs to take off again. He describes the surreal day hearing about the song being shared by all kinds of celebrities such as Lizzo: “I was at an old job at a pet supply store on lunch break”, thinking “What are you talking about that song’s so old! Then it just kept going and going…” The song worked like a springboard, people going beyond their initial piqued interest to check out the band’s wider discography. “We’re very lucky for that kind of thing to happen”.

Looking forward, the band has a busy schedule, with concerts in the UK, Europe, and Asia, before a joint tour with fellow Aussie band Last Dinosaurs in the US in Autumn. Playing with another band is something they are looking forward to, particularly being a band they have looked up to since their youth – “Our music is somewhat similar, the overall vibe… We like to have a lot of fun on stage live, it’s like a big party as much as we can make it … it’s gonna be a very fun night every time we play I think”.

Although it’s great fun being on tour, it does not come without its toils, which makes the band grateful for their friendship. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, through thick and thin, navigating how to be on the same bus for days on end… I wouldn’t be able to do it without them, we’re all very, very good friends and it’s very easy, very fun to live an unglamorous life on the road, to be doing something that we all love”. When travelling the globe it’s the time at home that provides the real time off, “that’s kind of like our holiday”.

Before then, the band will be enjoying a well-earned break, as well as tidying up their staging plans for tour, and their setlist. There is a bit of work to be done on the new record before it’s finished and released next year – “Be excited, it’ll be great!”


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