Evie Kissack chats to Charlie Simpson, 1/3rd of British pop rock group Busted, following the announcement of the band’s fourth album 'Half Way There' and supporting UK tour.

Album released Feb 2019 via East West Records

Official video for singles, ‘Nineties’ and 'Radio' out now

Having spent a year working on the new tracks, Charlie proudly discusses the band’s initial intention to create the ‘ultimate Busted album’ for their fans, heading back to familiar territory to embrace the classic Busted sound. Given the opportunity to work with two industry legends, renowned photographer Rankin (Bowie, Madonna) and prolific producer Gil Norman (Foo Fighters, Pixies), Charlie explains how he, Matt [Willis] and James [Bourne] jumped at the chance, piecing together a narrative to accompany their new record that captures their zest, humour and jocund attitude of the band. 

 

“This is the seminal Busted record, this epitomises what Busted is about.”

 

So, it’s a very exciting time for Busted!

It is an exciting time!

You’ve released singles from the new album, ‘Nineties’ and ‘Reunion’ and have announced the huge supporting tour…

Yes, we have! Have you seen the video for ‘Nineties’?

I have! It’s hilarious – I LOVE the photography for the album. 

It’s all Rankin. Rankin is like ‘The Don’ of British photography, he’s the best in the business; it was amazing that he was so keen to work with us. 

He has perfectly captured the band’s playfulness. 

Yeah, I think so man. I just feel like people don’t make funny videos anymore. The music industry has turned into this process that takes itself very seriously, and everyone is trying to look super cool. I remember watching MTV and Foo Fighters’ videos; it was so nice to watch. Performance videos are often quite boring - they don’t really say anything. We wanted to make something that was fun and funny, and capture what people loved about Busted to begin with, to be honest. 


It’s definitely a move back to the ‘classic’ Busted sound, back to your roots almost. 

Yes, I think so. 


The album has a great energy – there are a few fantastical and songs on the album, for example, ‘Race To Mars’, that acts as a tribute to Elon Musk. Can you tell me a little about your decision to incorporate humour in the tracks?

So, obviously Elon Musk has been in trouble with regards to a few things he’s said recently…we worked on the tracks before all of that happened. The fact is that he is an incredibly clever man, and his outlook on the world and on space flight is just…amazing. We were excited about the prospect of what he dreams the future of the human race will be, and we thought it would be nice to pay homage to that. ‘Race To Mars’ is all about, basically, leaving Earth and flying over to our nearest planet, which will happen hopefully in our lifetime. 

It’s definitely a nod back to earlier Busted tracks such as ‘Year 3000’, and the light-hearted playfulness we’ve been chatting about. There are also some more reflective songs that feature on the album. Was this mixture a conscious decision when you set out to work on ‘Half Way There’? 

Yeah, definitely. The album went on a bit of a journey, to be honest. The last album, ‘Night Driver’, we absolutely loved and I think it was the perfect album to come back with after 10 years apart. We were in the studio not really knowing where to go after that, and we spent a bunch of time in LA writing songs, and nobody was particularly…we just weren’t feeling the direction it was going in. 

Matt [Willis] did a writing session with Dougie [Poynter] from McFly just for fun – it wasn’t really for anything in particular. They recorded this riff that’s in ‘Nineties’, and they showed it to James and I when were playing a show, and we decided to write a song around that. So, ‘Nineties’ was basically a catalyst for the entire record. Everything else came pretty quickly after that. We thought, ‘What album would Busted fans want to hear in 2019?’ and for us, it was a way to reignite the passion that people had for the band to begin with, but do it in a modern way. Working with someone like Gil Norton, who produced the record and has worked with bands like Foo Fighters and Jimmy Eat World, he was the perfect guy to take that concept forward. 

For me, this is the seminal Busted record, this epitomises what Busted is about. The songs are all really strong, and as I say, it encapsulates what the band was about to begin with. 


You mentioned working with Gil Norton – how did this collaboration come about and what was his influence on the record?

Pretty strong, man. He’s very meticulous. We took him the demo and he didn’t even want to go into the studio until we sat and had a week’s pre-production analysing every part of the songs. We would rewrite things and he’d say, ‘I’m not sure about this part’ or ‘I’m not sure about that part’. He very much works like an ‘old school’ producer; so many producers these days are just kids in their rooms with a laptop. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense, just in the sense that writing now happens on the fly. People write and record as they go, whereas  Gil wanted to sit and discuss the tracks with us and analyse everything. It took us six months to finish the album, and by today’s standards, that’s quite a long time. I think we benefitted from the process and the album is better because of it. 

Well, it seems that the intense period of working on the ultimate Busted album has paid off!

Yes! 

You’ll be heading out on tour to support the album, heading to Resorts World Arena in Birmingham as part of that. As well as playing huge arenas, you’ll also be performing in the smallest venue of your career (the 100 Club). What’s the best thing about being able to perform in a diverse mix of venues?

Yep, we did. We had our first Glastonbury appearance last summer, which was again a seminal moment in our careers. I would say it’s the best festival in the world; it’s such an iconic place to play. We had an amazing time there, and I think we are going to do as many festivals next year as possible. Now is the fun part! The album is made, and we just want to get out and play the songs as much as we can. 

All venues have their merits. One of my favourite venues in Birmingham is the O2 Academy – it’s an awesome venue. I played at the old one a lot, the one that was downstairs – did you ever go there? That was a really good venue. Playing at venues of different sizes is great, and Resorts World Arena is such a big venue that we can do more with the staging. We are going to try to put on a really elaborate show. A band – especially a band like Busted – can really come to life in a room like that. 

Birmingham is always an amazing crowd for us. I think it will be one of our best shows, to be honest. 

From what we’ve already heard from the singles, it sounds like it’s going to be an incredible set of gigs.  

Yes, hopefully we can get out there and just cause a riot! Fire and flame-throwers blowing and all that kind of stuff – you can make a real spectacle from the shows in a venue like that.  

What can fans expect from the set list?

Yeah, we are going to play all the hits man. We want to really push the boat out and we are talking about the potential for a 20/22-song set, which will be the longest we’ve ever played. We are conscious not to play too many new tracks, as the album will have just come out. Even though we are really excited to play new songs, we are wary that we don’t want to play the entire album. We will be playing all the Busted bangers and there’ll be something for everyone! 

Busted

29 March 2019

Resorts World Arena

Tickets are now on general sale via www.theticketfactory.com or by calling 0844 33 88 222 *Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company's access charge.  Tickets priced at £43.50/£49.25 (including admin fees and £1.20 facility fee) + £2.55 fulfilment fee per order. 

Pre-order ‘Half Way There’ now at www.busted.com!

@busted

 

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