"We had to change some lyrics for legal reasons…" – hmv.com talks to McBusted
When it was announced last year that McFly and two members of the long-split up pop trio Busted were merging to form the supercharged supergroup McBusted, most people (including some of the band) assumed this was a live thing. They’d create the biggest and best arena tour they could, have lots of fun, make a fair few bob and then return to their lives. Maybe, in a few years’ time, they’d reunite and do it again, but hardly anyone would have called that just a few months after the whole idea of McBusted was announced they’d already be releasing their debut album.
But they are, it’s self-titled and we called up bassist Dougie Poynter to find out how they got the album written and recorded so quickly, why they had to change some lyrics due to legal reasons and just what do you do with two bass guitars…
You’re about to release your first album as a member of McBusted, does this feel any different to putting out a McFly record?
“It feels better. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed listening to ourselves as much as I do now. I’ve got our album on high rotation at the moment. I really, really like it. Even though we didn’t have nearly as much time as we normally would, I feel like that was on our side because we sometimes end up taking a year to make an album and getting sick of it. This time we only had three or four months to put it all together, not long at all.”
When did you decide that you wanted to make an album together? Or was it always the plan?
“It was never the plan, but Tom and James do write songs all the time anyway, whether that’s for McFly or for different projects, so the songs would always be coming round. I think it was ‘Air Guitar’ that sparked it all off, that was very much the seed for the album.”
“From there we ended up working with some of our idols and people in bands we grew up listening to. We thought if we were going to use outside writers they might as well be in legendary pop-punk bands.”
How did you end up working with Mark Hoppus, Rivers Cuomo and Alex Gaskarth?
“We were already friends with Mark Hoppus from Blink and he hooked us up with Alex from All Time Low. The track by Rivers Cuomo from Weezer was written a couple of years ago, it was originally a McFly thing. But we didn’t end up using it.”
“They were all literally the nicest guys. Mark Hoppus is the nicest bloke in the universe. Alex is naturally incredibly talented and has a real knack, he writes like we do, sitting around with acoustic guitars, starting with nothing and building it up, which feels a bit old school. Lots of songwriters these days go in with a beat and work from that, but that feels quite foreign to us.”
It sounds like the album came together quite quickly…
“We were writing whilst recording, normally we go in knowing what songs we’re going to record, this time we’d write during the day and then go over to our other studio and lay down what we’d done. It was fun, it was thrilling, it was actually a really enjoyable way to do things.”
Did you not feel rushed?
“No, it was like doing a painting, you can’t rub anything out. Normally you sketch it all out, work on it, rub bits out, this was going straight to the painting, so you’d better know what you’re going to paint.”
How does it work with recording? You and Matt both play bass, how do you record two bass guitars?
“Me and Matt have two different bass sounds, we don’t have the same one and we try and work something out on each song. Usually Matt takes all of the top end, all the clank and all the fuzz, we’ve got a lot of distortion pedals we mess around with, he takes all of that, I take all the low end, so it sounds like one giant bass. There are two or three songs where we do have two separate parts, something you can’t play with one bass.”
Is that weird? You’re used to being the only bass player…
“Yeah totally. We listened to a few bands that had done it before. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, they had two bass players, we listened to how they did it and a lot of their stuff is rad. We looked at it as this weird pop, pop-punk and rock collective thing and tried to make the most of having all these guitars.”
Is there a tendency to do too much? There are six of you…
“Totally, there’s a couple of songs that don’t really lend themselves to having more than the bare bones on them, so I don’t know who exactly will end up on that, probably just who played it first. The biggest tracks have lots of intricate parts and there’s enough space for everybody.”
How did you write the lyrics? Did you all do them together?
“It depended on which track. We did a couple altogether, but sometimes we ended up splitting them up. A lot of the writing was done in groups, we’d mix them up everyday. Some of us are better at certain types of lyrics, Matt (Willis) is better at the smuttier stuff, Tom (Fletcher) is great at everything, I’m better at the pop-punk stuff. This was the easier one to write though, apart from one lyric. We did have to change some lyrics for legal reasons.”
What was that?
“I don’t think I’m even legally allowed to say what it is. Fans will know what it is, they heard the original and then we got told we had to change it. I think it was more not wanting to risk it.”
Did you have a producer with you?
“Steve Robson, who worked on the first Busted album, he really took the reins and was quite strict with us. We needed that because we can just go off on one and he had to be the one to go ‘Right, that song’s done now, don’t ruin it’. He’s a really good keyboard player too, so he did all the extra parts.”
How are you planning to bed the new songs in with your older material live? You’ve got lots to pick from…
“It’s going to be really hard. I do love every song on the album. Normally there’s one or two songs which you know everyone will love, but this will be hard. I’ve no idea how we’ll narrow it down. They’re all so different too.”
Do you all listen to quite different music now? And are there many crossover points?
“We do yeah. Danny (Jones) is really into dance music and very current stuff in that regard, it goes from there all way to any kind of rock, Tom and James (Bourne) are quite into musicals, then there’s all the pop-punk, we take stuff from everywhere.”
Finally, was it always going to be called McBusted?
“There was a whole list of titles, we did a whole list and a lot of different set ups for the photo shoot. I wanted to call it Hot Singles In Your Area, but sadly that didn’t make the cut…”
McBusted’s self-titled debut album will be released on Monday (December 1st). You can pre-order it now.
The band will be signing copies at hmv 363 Oxford Street and hmv Manchester. Click here to find out more details.