The lead guitarist talks to StarWars.com about his Star Wars fandom -- including a certain Gungan.
They’ve toured with the likes of Selena Gomez, Little Mix, and Taylor Swift, but now British boy band the Vamps are about to head on a world tour of their own to support the release of new album, Night & Day. StarWars.com caught up with guitarist James McVey to talk about his love of the saga, meeting Carrie Fisher (as well as Gary!), and getting emotional over Rogue One.
StarWars.com: James McVey, welcome to StarWars.com!
James McVey: Thanks for having me!
StarWars.com: You’ve been put forward to me as the biggest fan in the band -- either that or you just got the short straw?
James McVey: No, it’s true! My dad watched the originals in the '70s, so when I was growing up I watched video tapes of IV, V, and VI. I’ve grown up with it.
StarWars.com: So you must have been pretty young when The Phantom Menace came out?
James McVey: Yeah, I must have been six or seven. I do remember it coming out, but I did the originals first and I think that was the best way to get me into it.
StarWars.com: OK, I’m going to bring up a certain Sir Jar Jar of Binks here. You’re very much a fan aren’t you?
James McVey: Yeah...I just like depth to stories and I find him an interesting character. The whole Gungan city underwater is also really interesting and if it wasn’t for Jar Jar then they never would have gone down there. I think he’s a good link to another part of Star Wars that fans can get involved in.
StarWars.com: Just imagine -- you’ve been cast away to a desert island, or maybe even Tatooine -- but you could only take one Star Wars film with you. Which would it be?
James McVey: I do love the two recent ones and I know The Empire Strikes Back tends to be the film that most people regard as their favorite, but for me it’s A New Hope. I just love the opening scene. You don’t know what’s going on yet, but there’s obviously so much that’s happened before. It’s amazing now after Rogue One to actually see the build up to that, it’s kind of come full circle.
StarWars.com: What's the craziest Star Wars-related thing that you've done?
James McVey: We went to the Rogue One premiere. Our friend [in public relations] invited us, but he said there’s not going to be a red carpet or anything. And I think one of us had a suitcase and we were just walking along, trying to get to the seats, and then someone ushered us around a corner and we stepped onto a massive red carpet! So we were walking up the premiere with all of our suitcases and stuff! And then we got inside and the whole cast was there -- that was mental! Actually, we did [British TV show] Celebrity Juice with Carrie Fisher, literally in November. That was crazy for me. Meeting her and Gary was the dream!
StarWars.com: That’s really what you get into a band for isn’t it -- to get invited to Star Wars premieres and hang out with icons?
James McVey: Exactly!
StarWars.com: How do you react when you meet someone who’s never seen Star Wars. Are they instantly dead to you?
James McVey: Well our guitar tech, Scott, he’s like in his 30s and he’s never seen any of them! I don’t know how you can grow up without even seeing one of them. I was disappointed. Shocked, even.
StarWars.com: You need to school him then, surely?
James McVey: Actually, I accidentally left a full box set on the tour bus, all of them up to The Force Awakens, and he’s taken it home with him. So hopefully I’ve done him a favor there.
StarWars.com: Let’s hope so. Two choices: You win your dream role in a Star Wars movie, which means that you’ll be immortalised as an action figure, or if you’re really lucky, a PEZ dispenser…
James McVey: Okay...
StarWars.com: Or the Vamps win a Grammy, consisting of shared glory and recognition for not just yourself but also your bandmates…which do you go for?
James McVey: I think it depends what role I’m playing?
StarWars.com: We’re talking top-tier here, baby…
James McVey: That’s really hard. I know one of the Rizzle Kicks boys played a rebel soldier in Rogue One and that was really really good, but I couldn’t take that from the band! I mean, a Grammy would be amazing.
StarWars.com: Is that your final answer?
James McVey: Maybe I could do both and accept the Grammy as a stormtrooper or something? That would be the hybrid scenario!
StarWars.com: Maybe. Now, I hear that you occasionally get a little bit emotional during films. Has this ever been the case for any Star Wars movies?
James McVey: Oh yeah, the end of Rogue One was ridiculous! There’s never been a film that I’ve ever seen before where no one makes it. All of the heroes just go! I was clinging onto a bit of hope, like there must be something that’s going to happen, but everyone dies effectively.
StarWars.com: Are we talking full on tear jerking here?
James McVey: Yeah! When Jyn and Cassian are sat on the beach and it’s all coming down... It was probably the most emotional moment that I’ve had for Star Wars.
StarWars.com: With more to come…
James McVey: Yes! I’m really happy that more movies are coming. There was a big gap and I was thinking, is it ever going to come back? And when it did, it was the best thing ever.
StarWars.com: What’s your level of excitement for The Last Jedi right now? Are you so excited and pumped that you’re even forgetting to wash, or are you like, "Dude, I’m in a band on a world tour, I’m good…"
James McVey: It’s one of those things, there’s no films that come close to Star Wars and I’ve got such a fascination with the wider story. I find it really interesting just how many details intwine, so for me, there’s nothing I’m more excited about than that.
StarWars.com: Even more exciting than a world tour?
James McVey: It’s more than just a film to me because I grew up with it. It’s more a way of life. I think for people that are big Star Wars fans, it’s more than just watching a film.
StarWars.com: I mentioned touring, you’re about to head off to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and Japan. There’s so many dates, it’s like you’re on the run or something! Are any of these uncharted territory for the Vamps?
James McVey: Yeah, we’re going to New Zealand and we’ve never been there before, so that’s the one we’re really looking forward to.
StarWars.com: Lets talk about your new album Night & Day. It’s a double album that you’re releasing in two parts, right?
James McVey: Yeah. So we’ve got the Night edition, which [came] out in July, and then the Day is coming out at the end of the year. It’s kind of a concept. The first album is more sultry and dark -- arguably moody -- and then the second half is brighter and more uplifting. We have that contrast in emotions, colors, and textures.
StarWars.com: James, thanks for talking to me mate!
James McVey: No, thanks for having me.
The Night edition of Night & Day is out now and full tour dates are available at thevamps.net.
Jamie Stangroom is a UK based broadcaster who proudly models his appearance on Chewbacca. He first became engrossed with Star Wars when he choked on a C-3PO Tazo in his cheese and onion crisps, back in 1998. Follow him on Twitter @jamiestangroom.