When their first U.S. single “Somebody to You” featuring Demi Lovato slammed one million YouTube views in 24 hours last month, British teen music sensations The Vamps were ecstatic.
“We [had just] gotten back from Australia -- we were so tired and jet-lagged, we had no idea what was going to happen,” guitarist James McVey said of the group who has 2.2 million Facebook likes, 4 million combined Twitter followers and amassed more than 85 million views on their YouTube/VEVO channel. “I remember waking up and seeing a million views, and being like ‘whoa.’”
But there’s an extra spark that brings The Vamps -- McVey, 20, drummer Tristan Evans, 19, bassist Connor Ball, 18, and singer Bradley Simpson, 18 -- together. The four, who were joined together by social media in 2012 and signed with New York-based Island Records last year, share a passion for health and fitness. It’s a common interest they hope will motivate and provide a positive influence for their large youth following.
“I think it’s very important to keep fit and exercise, especially when younger,” Simpson said. “Make it enjoyable for yourself.”
Evans, who used fitness as a way of channeling an abundance of energy, agrees: “I think it’s important for health to be fit from a young age -- you will be able to achieve more,” he explained. “[I’ve seen] a change in look and tone. You feel better about yourself.”
And Ball added that since he has been going to the gym he’s noticed a real improvement in his health and well-being. “I used to get pains in my back and neck, but they have subsided since I’ve started going to the gym,” he said.
Other members of the group say it was McVey who inspired them to focus on fitness.
“We have all been into sports since a young age,” Simpson said. “It started really with James getting us into health and fitness in a big way. I’ve known James for three years and to see his progression over that time is very motivating. It regiments you and your dedication towards it.”
Simpson also credits his father for getting him involved in an active lifestyle at a young age. “My dad is a golf pro and has always been heavily involved in sport,” he said. “He got me into golf and football from an early age.”
For exercise, Simpson said he enjoys running and football and dislikes suicide situps. But In the gym, he also realizes the importance of cardio workouts for his trade.
“It helps me onstage,” Simpson said. “I try and do a bit of cardio each time, even if it’s a 10-minute run. … Other than that, I train a different muscle group each day.”
McVey enjoys working out his chest and back -- especially doing weighted dips -- but his least favorite is legs. Evans focuses on rowing and boxing, which provides upper body strength for drumming, while Ball likes using everyday gym machines to hit all his muscle groups.
“For me, the gym is fundamental -- it’s where I get my own head space,” McVey said. “I’m generally happier in myself. I’m stronger and in better shape. You need to be fit for all the running around onstage, too.”
The Vamps -- who performed on Father’s Day at MTV’s 2014 Artist to Watch concert at Manhattan’s Highline Ballroom, will be live on "Today," July 24, and debut their first U.S. EP on Aug. 5/ They realize the importance that a solid strength and conditioning program has on staying away from negative, unhealthy influences.
“Being in the gym with the other guys and all wanting to work hard is a very positive feeling,“ Simpson said. “It is paramount to maintain well-being while on the road, and staying away from [the] negative things.”
“When you have such a busy schedule,” he continued, “it gives you a good constant throughout busy times.”
Brian T. Dessart is a nationally accredited Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, a New York State Critical Care Emergency Medical Technician and an FDNY firefighter. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter: @briandessart.