Vaccines don’t succumb to sophomore slump 

click to enlarge Touring to promote their second recording, the Vaccines are going strong, despite the fact that lead singer Justin Young had three operations on his vocal cords. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Touring to promote their second recording, the Vaccines are going strong, despite the fact that lead singer Justin Young had three operations on his vocal cords.

When frustrated ex-folkie Justin Young met equally cynical guitarist Freddie Cowan, a brilliant little combo called The Vaccines was born, later releasing their fiery, punk-forged 2011 debut, “What Did You Expect From the Vaccines?” After working with The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr. for the single “Tiger Blood,” the band — brimming with more than 150 new songs — bounded into a similarly exuberant, Ethan Johns-produced follow-up “Come of Age,” featuring indictments of the members’ own 20-something generation such as “No Hope,” “Teenage Icon” and “Lonely World.” Frontman Young brings the band to The City this week.

Was there sophomore pressure surrounding the second album?

We trusted ourselves on the first record, and I think we’ve done that on the second record, as well. We’ve just gone with our hearts and put our faith in what we think is good.

A health scare made it seem like “Come of Age” would never happen. What went wrong with your voice?

It was about Christmas 2010, and I just remember feeling like I constantly had to clear my throat, and I wasn’t able to reach certain notes. And I thought it was just loads of mucus or whatever, but then I thought, “No, this is something weird.” Something told me to go see the doctor, and he took a look down there and found that it had been bleeding and there was this lump in there. And over the course of the year, it happened three times, which is why we’ve never toured the states.

What was the diagnosis?

It was a hemorrhaging of the vocal cords. They were bleeding, then it scars, and then the scar gets in the way and the vocal cords couldn’t work properly. ... So I had three operations in 2011, and each time they were like, “You know, you’ve got to take time off.” So we took the time off, and I’ve been OK up to this point.

Were you absolutely terrified?

Definitely. And I still live in constant fear of that, really — the danger of not even just not singing, but not talking, as well. But actually, on this record, I feel like my singing really benefited from the softer approach that I’m taking now. So I guess the dark cloud had a silver lining.

Did you hire a voice coach?

I actually had a vocal therapist. It’s not like a singing coach — it’s someone who taught me how to not completely rip my voice to shreds, when I’m talking as much as anything else. So now I do exercises and stuff, just to keep things going.

The Vaccines

  • Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
  • When: 9 p.m. Friday
  • Tickets: $21.50
  • Contact: (415) 346-6000; www.livenation.com

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Tom Lanham

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