From Dorset to the World: The Heartfelt Journey of James McVey

In the ever-evolving landscape of modern music, few artists manage to capture the raw essence of nostalgia and the profound simplicity of youth as authentically as James McVey. His new single “Thick and Thin” is a poignant celebration of enduring friendships and the cherished memories of growing up. With roots in a small village in Dorset, James draws from personal experiences and heartfelt connections, creating a song that resonates with listeners on a deeply emotional level. As we delve into the inspiration behind “Thick and Thin” and explore the themes of the upcoming EP “Letters Home,” we uncover the stories, collaborations, and heartfelt moments that have shaped this remarkable journey. Join us as James McVey shares insights into his creative process, the significance of brotherhood, and the powerful emotions that drive his music.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your new single ‘Thick and Thin’? What personal experiences influenced the song?

“‘Thick and Thin’ is about the friendships you have when you’re younger. I had a small group of friends I went to the football pitch with every day after school. We would ride our BMXs and talk about everything in our lives. The world felt really small back then, and we never really ventured further than a couple of miles away. ‘Thick and Thin’ is all about those years of simplicity before we grew up and moved away.”

‘Thick and Thin’ is described as celebrating the enduring power of brotherhood. Can you share more about the friendships that inspired this track and how they’ve impacted your life?

“I grew up in a village in Dorset on the south coast. There wasn’t much to do, so we made our own fun by digging BMX jumps, kicking a ball around on the old bobbly football pitch, and playing the same four chords over and over in my friend’s garage. We were bored a lot of the time, but looking back, there was a beautiful innocence and naivety in not really knowing what was going on outside of our primitive surroundings. We were there for each other as we experienced new things for the first time—first relationships, school exams… everything. Life has twisted and turned, but I’m lucky to still have relationships with some of those friends.”

The nostalgic tone of ‘Thick and Thin’ is evident. How did you capture the essence of your childhood in Dorset through the song’s music and lyrics?

“I knew this song needed to be simple lyrically. I wanted to avoid obscurity and tried my best to conjure specific images, such as the football pitch and the first time getting drunk. I hoped people would be able to relate to ‘Thick and Thin,’ and I tried to pick elements from my childhood that I thought others might have experienced too.”

You mentioned that ‘Thick and Thin’ brings an irony of wanting to leave your hometown but now longing for its simplicity. How do you feel this sentiment resonates with your listeners?

“I always used to say that most people I know talk about leaving their hometown, but as soon as they get to the city, they count down the days until they can move back again. There’s definitely a sense of ‘the grass is always greener’ with that, but I think growing up teaches you a whole new level of stress and complication that you can never truly escape again. For me, that innocence is all tied to where I grew up.”

You wrote and produced ‘Thick and Thin’ with Alex Stacey. Can you tell us about your collaborative process with him and how your shared experiences influenced the song’s production?

“Alex and I toured with Henry Moodie around the UK and Europe earlier this year. We started writing songs with our other band member Joshua ‘Quad-Zilla’ Lines every night on the tour bus, and before we knew it, we had six songs. There was never the intention to create an EP on the road, but it had always been my dream. Recording on tour meant that we were limited in where we could track instruments and vocals. At first, we tried our best to get the cleanest takes without any interference, but we quickly realized that having the odd slamming door or chatter in the background kind of added to the whole production. Instead of trying to omit this live-sounding roughness, we decided to embrace it and truly create a ‘Tour EP.’ It was liberating to let go and lean into this. Ultimately, we became less precious, and I’m over the moon with how vulnerable ‘Letters Home’ ended up sounding.”

How does ‘Thick and Thin’ fit within the broader themes of your upcoming EP ‘Letters Home’? What can fans expect from the rest of the EP?

“‘Letters Home’ explores a couple of themes I’ve never written about before. We touched on ‘Thick and Thin,’ but there’s another song called ‘Hold On To The Times’ that’s about grief. I’d never written about that before and found it both strange and rewarding. There’s a sense of immediacy with this EP in a way I haven’t conveyed before. Everything was genuinely written within a couple of weeks. Instead of pondering over certain lyrics for months, I put pen to paper without much thought, and ‘Letters Home’ fell out. I’d love people to listen to the EP and notice a certain emotional transparency; I wasn’t cryptic with how I was feeling at the time. ‘Letters Home’ is truly a capsule from two weeks on the road in Europe.”

‘All The Things’ is another track from the ‘Letters Home’ EP. Can you share how these songs interconnect and what stories you aim to tell through this collection?

“‘All The Things’ was the first song I wrote for the EP. It was genuinely written straight after we came off stage in Utrecht. By the time we went to bed on the bus, we had all the melodies and had written the majority of the lyrics in the chorus. I posted a video on my Instagram of the band and I recording the backing vocals in the venue car park. A few days later, we added the song to the live set, and ‘All The Things’ was born. I loved the feeling of knowing that if I started performing ‘All The Things’ on tour, then I had to commit to the song. I’d never really had that freedom before, and it felt amazing. The song is all about missing loved ones while on the road, so it only felt right to play it.”

You’ve continued to work with The Vamps while pursuing your solo career. How do you balance these two aspects of your musical journey?

“I’m very lucky that songwriting finds me wherever I am. I’d be writing songs if my life had taken a different turn and I’d never had the privilege of finding success with The Vamps. I’m sure when schedules get busy, it may become a bit of a balancing act, but I’m not worried about it. The four of us in The Vamps love the band equally and don’t see that going anywhere. I’d like to think that all of our separate projects feed back into the band and will probably actually result in a more exciting album six.”

The ‘Meet The Vamps’ anniversary tour sold out quickly. What does this enthusiastic response from fans mean to you and the band?

“Everything. We genuinely had no idea in 2011/2012 that we’d still be making music in 2024. Obviously, we dreamt about it, but the chances were hugely unlikely. This tour selling out so quickly continues to play into the narrative that The Vamps isn’t just the four of us; it’s become something that thousands of people around the world relate to and connect with. That’s what music is all about. It’s our duty to do the best we can for the followers of The Vamps, and we’ll continue to do so for as long as we can.”

Looking back at your journey from The Vamps to your solo career, what have been some of the most significant challenges and rewards?

“Learning how to embrace and evolve through the introduction of Spotify was massive. A lot of other artists and bands didn’t make it through that transition, and that’s a real shame. The ever-changing nature of social media has always been a challenge, but we try not to overthink that side of the industry. We are very lucky that the fanbase has remained loyal over the last decade, meaning we’re still able to tour and make music without needing to focus too heavily on following the latest social media trend. That’s hugely rewarding.”

With the release of the ‘Manabi’ EP last year and now ‘Letters Home,’ how do you feel your solo music has evolved?

“I’d like to think my ability to produce has evolved over the last couple of years. I’ve learned a lot from Alex Stacey, my co-writer and producer. I’ve also learned the importance of not always trying to overcomplicate my lyrics; sometimes the best way is the simplest. I’ve tried to remain as honest as possible with my writing, and I’ve loved that experience. The more I tour and travel with my music, the more I’ll be inspired to explore new themes in my writing.”

Your music has been described as having a warm and genuine presence. How do you achieve this organic production style in your recordings?

“The truth is, this presence initially came from my limitations as a producer. When I was making music in the infancy of ‘Manabi,’ I was quickly recording guitars and vocals without thinking too much. This ultimately turned into a raw-sounding production, and I went with it, presuming I’d re-record those parts down the line. When people started commenting on how much they liked the demos’ vulnerability and emotion, I just went with it. It was never hugely intentional in the early days, but as time progressed, I leaned into it, and it became ‘a thing.’ It’s funny, really.”

What do you hope listeners take away from ‘Thick and Thin’ and the ‘Letters Home’ EP as a whole?

“I hope people take away that I’ve poured everything into ‘Letters Home.’ I worked with cellist Benedict Swindells across the whole project, and this gave us the luxury of writing real musical segments, such as at the end of ‘Eyes Closed.’ I’d love people to feel that this has resulted in a musical progression. Relatability is another aim; I hope people will listen to ‘Thick and Thin’ and feel nostalgia

, ‘Hold On To The Times’ and think of someone they’ve lost, and ‘All The Things’ and think of someone they love. For me, music is all about feeling something, and I really hope people do when they listen to ‘Letters Home.'”

Can you give us a sneak peek into any future projects or collaborations you’re excited about?

“I’m already looking towards the next EP and the album following that. I’d also love to get back on the road as soon as possible, so watch this space. Thank you!”

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