The Vamps’ lead guitarist, James McVey, has embarked on a solo project and released his debut single, ‘Dancing on the Head of a Needle’, last Friday. No fear though, James has promised us he is “wholeheartedly content” with being in The Vamps so his solo project will not be jeopardising the band.
‘Dancing on the Head of a Needle’ is the product of James reflecting on his mental health and his relationship with family and friends. He lost his voice late last year due to vocal polyps, preventing him from singing on The Vamps’ 10-year anniversary tour.
James explains that his love of Damien Rice inspired him to move into this new folk-pop genre. The genre is quite different from the typical music that he releases with fellow bandmates Bradley Will Simpson, Tristan Evans and Connor Ball. It is an acoustic song with very personal lyrics, written and produced by James himself.
Read more of our chat with James about his single below.
James, this is your first-ever solo release! What inspired you to write ‘Dancing on the Head of a Needle’?
‘Dancing on the Head of a Needle’ pertains to a period of my life where I felt a little lost and unreachable to those closest to me. The song is a reminder to me that it’s always important to take stock of your mental health and check in on yourself from time to time. I avoided that self-reflection for a few months and, in hindsight, regret it. This song could be seen as my apology to those people I wasn’t there for during that time, but also to myself.
The song fits into an exciting folk-pop genre, which is slightly different to the music you’ve released with The Vamps, and I love it. What inspired you to write for this genre?
Thank you. The truth is I’ve always written this way. Songwriting began for me age 11 listening to Damien Rice. When writing for The Vamps, we each contribute our inspirations and styles into the mixing pot and the result is an amalgamation of all of us. I wasn’t sure whether the themes I wish to explore on my project were necessarily suitable for the band dynamic. Now, at the age of 30, I feel the time is right to venture down this path and write in the style that’s always felt so familiar to me. I’m determined to knock on doors that I haven’t before on this project, both from a position of self-evaluation, but also from a production standpoint.
We, of course, know you already have an extremely successful career with The Vamps. Has releasing solo music always been a thing you wanted to do?
Releasing solo music isn’t, nor ever has been a plea to leave The Vamps in the strive for further fame or success. I am wholeheartedly content within The Vamps and am excited for the future with the boys. I hadn’t thought about starting this project until relatively recently. The pandemic forced a period of contemplation and self-reflection for many of us, something I’d avoided doing for ten years. I’ve done a lot of thinking over the last couple of years and truly looked inwards for the first time. The time feels right to share what I’ve learned about myself.
There have been massively positive reactions from your fans online from when you announced the song to it being released which is fantastic. Is this something that you expected from your fans with your first solo release?
I knew it would be naive to think that every single Vamps fan would want my solo music. Ultimately, fans of the band want band music and I understand and respect that. Again, I’m not wanting to pull fans away from The Vamps by any means: I’m merely wishing to share elements and feelings of my life through these songs. I’m humbled by the response to my first release and really hope people can relate to what I’m trying to convey.
Is there any new music on the radar? If so, what can fans expect?
Absolutely. Doing this project independently gives me the luxury of releasing what I want, when I want. I want to release music regularly for the foreseeable future.
We can’t wait to see what James has in store for his solo career. Definitely looking forward to hearing more songs!
You can listen to ‘Dancing on the Head of a Needle’ here.