“This feels like a very different band, more like a new band…” - hmv.com talks to Busted
Some band reunions seem obvious, the time seems right, everyone is on good terms and there’s money to be made. Some seem less so, especially when one of your members has openly admitted that “not in a million years” would he ever return to the band and felt so depressed when he walked out in 2005 that he was on the verge of getting lost in drink and drugs.
But, late last year, what seemed more unlikely than almost any reconciliation you could think of, happened. James Bourne, Charlie Simpson and Matt Willis announced that they were back together again as Busted and a new album was on the way.
The album in question, which is titled Night Driver, arrives today (November 25th) and we sat down with the trio to find all about making the album and coming back together again…
How are you finding promoting a new Busted album again after 13 years? It must feel a bit odd...
Charlie: “It’s not odd anymore!”
Matt: “It genuinely doesn’t, it’s not been nearly as strange as I thought it was going to be. You build these things up in your head. We went away to Philadelphia for a week to work together and to see if this could really work again and I was a bit nervous. I thought it’d be really weird and we’d have no idea what to say to each other. But it was really easy.”
Charlie: “That’s actually what we wrote the songs about, that feeling.”
It would have been quite difficult if that time hadn’t worked out though, that would have been the end of everything...
Charlie: “I don’t think so. Not only did we keep it secret, but there was nothing on the table and we had an easy way out.”
Matt: “We had no record deal on the table, no financial ties, there was no incentive to do this. We only did it to see if it felt right and if it could work.”
In the years you’ve been apart the music you’ve made has been very different, not only from Busted but from each other, how easy was meeting in the middle?
James: “We didn’t have to meet in the middle when it came to writing songs or making the record, we’d settled on where we were going and what kind of music we wanted to make. We were united, if that hadn’t been then it wouldn’t have worked.”
Matt: “We broke up in the first place because we weren’t in the middle anymore, we were on different sides of a triangle if anything, but we’ve come back together now.”
How did recording compare? You’ve got all a lot more experience now...
Charlie: “The studio experience was like nothing else we’d done before. First time round we were young and we weren’t accustomed to making records. This time we were completely in control of everything and we weren’t back then, we’d have the record company telling us what songs had to sound like, even if we thought it was bulls**t and I hated all that stuff. We made this record without anybody and then took it to record companies, so they had to buy into our vision.”
James: “You pay for those decisions later on. In the short term the label gets its way, but you pay for it in the long term, you have to listen to all your favourite songs and think they sound like crap because you weren’t strong enough at the time. That does nobody any favours. This album will hold up in 10 years time, we’ve made sure of that.”
Charlie: “When I listen back to the old stuff the issues I had back then, I still have them now, I wish we’d fought harder. The years in between have been great, we’ve really honed our craft, this feels like a very different band, more like a new band.”
How did you go about picking a producer?
James: “The nature of our band suits certain producers. John Fields, who did the album, was great for us. He works very quickly and he works without anyone else, no engineer, so it was only the four of us, very neat and tidy, no deadwood in the room. He’s very talented as a player so he contributed a lot, he was the guy I most wanted the boys to meet.”
Charlie: “He did Jimmy Eat World’s Chase This Light, which is one of my favourite records, so I was already excited to meet him and he turned to be an absolute hero.”
James: “He’s very versatile. He does Miley Cyrus and then he does Jimmy Eat World and then he does Blind Melon.”
Matt: “He was very into the same influences as us.”
Charlie: “He became a fourth member of the band, the same way George Martin did with The Beatles, he became part of the furniture. Not that I’m comparing us to The Beatles…”
Matt: “I’d like to second that…”
How did it work when it came to putting the lyrics together?
James: “It was a real joint effort. It’d be hard to say who came up with what, there was no dividing it up evenly, it was a proper team.”
When did you settle on the title of Night Driver? Was it an easy decision to pick that name?
James: “It was the last song written for the album. It wasn’t easy to agree on, it’s a big thing.”
Matt: “Every day we’d go in a studio, we’d write the song, record it and then we’d take a mix away and we’d drive around Los Angeles at night listening to our album. It was the greatest part of the day. It was a self-indulgent routine, but it was amazing.”
James: “It’s not a complicated phrase, it’s very direct, but it’s quite mysterious, it’s a door you want to open, it doesn’t tell you everything you need to know.”
The new material is quite different, how will you go about putting it next to the old songs when you play live?
Charlie: “We haven’t tackled it yet. There are some songs where we don’t even play guitar, we’re on synthesisers.”
Matt: “That’s going to be weird actually, thinking about that live.”
James: “There are loads of bands who’ve made very different albums from what they’ve done before, we’ll figure it out. It’s way down my list of worries.”
Charlie: “Coldplay play ‘Yellow’ next to ‘Viva La Vida’, it totally works. Also this is the Night Driver tour so we’ll be playing a lot more new songs, the hits will be there, but they’ll be cherry picked. We won’t just play the album and walk off.”
This must all be very exciting, like a brand new band...
Charlie: “This feels like the first album of a brand new project.”
James: “It’s easily the most excited I’ve ever been about a new album.”
Are you thinking ahead much? Matt, the last time we spoke to you for the McBusted DVD you said you couldn’t think beyond the next two weeks…
Charlie: “That’s because you knew you were doing this.”
Matt: “That’s true. I did know.”
Charlie: “We’re definitely going to make another album.”
Matt: “We’re looking to get time and go back into the studio already. We haven’t even released this one yet and we’re already planning the next one. For me, that’s very exciting.”