Norwich band perform in national census advert

The Vagaband

The Vagaband appear in a national television census advert - Credit: The Vagaband

A Norwich band features in a new television awareness campaign for the national census after being contacted by a director who first saw them busking in the city. 

José McGill and The Vagaband can be seen on television and social media platforms throughout February and March ahead of the census taking place on March 21. 

The band filmed their take of The Zombies' 1968 classic This Will Be Our Year at High Wycombe Guildhall in October. 

Their version should be available to download on the band's White Noise EP, due for release in the spring.

Mr McGill, 46, explained how he was not able to tell anyone about the advert until it was first aired on Friday. 

José McGill

José McGill of The Vagaband - Credit: Steve Arlene

"My children have just been on saying they saw it while watching Lorraine," Mr McGill said. 

"Last October, the director Max Fisher who is a Norwich lad and an old friend from the 90s got in touch and said 'I remember you guys busking outside Jarrold'. 

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"He asked us to appear in the advert for a couple of sets just miming along. I kind of hustled it by putting together a line-up and asking everyone to learn the song. 

"We ended up doing 50 takes and played for real. By the end of the day the directors said 'you sound great' so we went into the recording studio and it kind of snowballed from there." 

The Vagaband

The Vagaband - Credit: The Vagaband

Mr McGill, who hails from an Irish musical pedigree, grew up by the beaches of Norfolk close to Great Yarmouth. He moved to Norwich in 1994 before forming The Vagaband in 2006. 

"When I got the call for the advert, I was working in a factory," Mr McGill said. "I have been a professional musician for over 20 years but took to working in a local factory cutting plastic tubes for hand dispensers.

"I was getting through thousands a day then I suddenly get this call. I was most surprised and it just goes to show 'hang in there, things can happen'." 

The White Noise EP is inspired by Covid and its message is based on the increase of screen time during lockdown, which creates "white noise and an information overload with polarised information".