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Busted: "We’re definitely doing another record"

They were the biggest pop stars in their class, then overnight they were no more. But why, after reforming for a brand new album, do Busted sound like a whole different band?
Published: 9:00 am, November 25, 2016
Busted: "We’re definitely doing another record"
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Nostalgia is easy. Making people care about something new, though - “That’s when it becomes a challenge,” starts Charlie Simpson. He’s a person who knows a thing or two about that. “It’s not easy to build something new,” he continues. “That’s why when people say you’re just doing it for the money, that’s crazy. We’re changing the branding, changing the sound, changing everything. We’re making it much more difficult for ourselves. And that’s the reason we’re doing it for the right reasons.”

Yup, Busted are back. Properly, actually back. There’s already been the victory lap of an arena tour taking in all the hits of old but more interestingly, there’s new music. In place of the goofy pop band who played guitars and jumped at the same time, they’ve returned as something completely different. Effortlessly cool, lit up with neon lights and sounding timeless already, Busted haven’t matured - they’ve grown into something new entirely.

“It’s a terrible commercial decision,” grins Matt Willis as all three members burst out laughing. “The only thing we’ve kept is the name Busted” - “There are no one-word band names left. Everything’s taken,” reasons James Bourne - “Everything else has gone out the window, but it’s what we want to do and for Busted to have a future, we have to do this.”

“We have to build again,” adds Charlie, before Matt finishes: “We have to treat this like a new band.”

"pull" text="The only way for it to work was to be who we are now, not who we were then.

From the moment they got back together in a Los Angeles recording studio and started playing, it felt like a homecoming. But it also “felt like a brand new thing,” to Matt. “It felt like a completely new experience to what Busted was like all those years ago. It was a totally new way of creating for us as a band.”

Back in The Old Days, the band would write on acoustic guitars and head into the studio with a finished product, ready to be copied and created. This time, they went in with nothing. Collectively listening to more electronically driven music, from Phil Collins to Daft Punk, as well as drawing tones of nostalgia from the era the trio grew up in, the band’s blank canvas took on colour and shape “after spending a few days in the studio playing around with instruments. It all happened really naturally,” offers Charlie. “There was not much pre-thinking going in.”

One thing they did know was they “wanted it to be a different record. We would never have come back and made an extension of the last two albums ‘cause we’re not in that place anymore,” starts Charlie.

“There’s no way that could have possibly worked,” continues James. As for the people asking ”Where the fuck is Busted?” in reaction to the new material so far, they’re right here in 2016. Sleek, stylised and with something to say. The Busted of old is exactly where it should be. “The only way for it to work was to be who we are now, not who we were then.”

With their new material, the concept was simple. “We’re going to make the album we’re going to make now and if people want to come with us on that journey, welcome. We want it to last. We’ve made something we’re happy with and if other people warm to it and start listening to it over and over then it’s a win for them and us. This band, it’s become our lives again.” There’s an album, a tour and plans beyond both. “We’re going to keep making new music beyond this album. It’s like, it’s a real here to stay thing. It’s not going to just disappear.”

"pull" text="There’s a lot riding on this album.

Before they rush off into the future though, Busted need to introduce the world to ‘Night Driver’. Their third studio album, and their first in thirteen years, is a tightly woven trip. Delicate soundscapes and blistering hooks lock together as the record shows off self-assurance without ever getting in your face. It’s so far removed from the likes of ‘Air Hostess’, ‘Crashed The Wedding’ and ‘Year 3000’ that it doesn’t even need to try for distance.

“In a way, there’s a lot riding on this album,” offers James, as Charlie reflects: “I think we did have things to prove. We wanted to show ourselves that we’ve done a lot of stuff since Busted finished the first time and now we’re all collectively doing it the way we want to do it. We’re a unit. We were quite fragmented at the end. We were all doing our own different things.” Now though, “It’s a new journey, it’s a new voyage and we want to really establish that and go forward with it.”

The band are still tied to their past. Whether it’s recognising something that looks like their old logo in a newspaper advert from across the room, or reflecting on the way music has evolved since they’re been gone (“All the goal posts have moved.”), Busted are very aware of their history. Now though, it comes with self-acceptance.

First time around, “we were at the tail end of a fucking barrage of shit pop music,” grins Matt. “When I’d be in a black cab and they’d ask me what I’d do, I’d tell them I was in a pop band and I’d feel a bit bummed out. Now though I’m like, ‘I’m in a fucking pop band!’ and that’s awesome. I don’t feel weird by saying that ‘cause pop music is fucking rad now.”

"pull" text="Pop music is fucking rad now.

Busted have always been a hybrid. First time around standing somewhere between pop and pop punk without really being accepted by either, and now Busted 2.0 are making music that lies at a point between eighties (“A golden era of pop. It’s unparalleled.”) and the future to try and “make it as timeless as we could,” says Charlie. “Pop music that doesn’t fit into a certain era. We wanted it, in twenty years, to sound as current as it does now.”

You’d think live that would present an obstacle, but “that’s the easy bit,” according to James. “The challenge is having people perceive us in this new way. The album does speak for itself and I’m really excited for the album to go out there and do the talking for us.”

“We can always adapt the old songs,” grins Charlie. “Anyway, one more album and we’ll have the same amount of new songs as old ones.”

Everything’s changed with Busted but the biggest, most obvious and powerful change comes from the fact the band are “in control of what we’re doing now,” admits Charlie. “A lot of what went on before was really the record company coming in and saying things need to be done a certain way. I’m not knocking that because Busted was incredibly successful and that’s great, but a lot of that stuff, if I’m honest, drove me away from it.

“I think what’s so nice about now is that we’re in control of it all. It all comes from us. If any of us are not happy with something, we won’t do it. We feel like a very strong unit now. Busted is presented now how it should always be presented.”

“The thing with Busted is that it became this crazy thing,” explains James. “It took on a mind of its own, a world of its own and it got a little bit out of control.” But the make up of the band, the relationship and chemistry between James, Matt and Charlie, “there was always a lot of potential there. Hopefully the reasons why we were successful, last time, those things are still there. We’ve got the experience and the ability to go back into the studio and correct things about the band and people start to look at us as a real band.”

“The ingredients are the same,” adds Charlie. “It’s just a different flavoured cake.”

"pull" text="The challenge is having people perceive us in this new way.

Despite the legacy, the interest and the size Busted have operated, and continue to operate on, there’s no fear. “I don’t really think about that, because that’s an outside question,” Charlie ventures. “It’s an outside perception, and that’s something you can’t worry about. We shouldn’t be influenced by the outside looking in, we should be the influencers, looking out. The legacy is what we want it to be. You can’t worry about that, you can’t. “

“There’s a million different people with a million different perceptions,” fires James. “The thing is, to everyone else, their perception of the band is what they think it is right now. But to us, our band is what it is. It is what we make it. We’re just doing that, we’re just making our band what it is and the other perceptions will be what they be, but the longer we keep making our band what it is, gradually the idea of what people think it is, it changes. I listen to stuff and if my ears like it, I like it. I don’t spend a while thinking, ‘Is it cool of me to like that?’ Just like what you like, listen to what you like.

“It’s like Steve Jobs said, you don’t ask people what they want, you tell them what they want. You forge your own ground. You don’t get influenced by those around you or you’ll be constantly second guessing yourself. You hope the fans come with you, and at the moment, the reaction’s been really good but you can’t worry that a fan might not like that, you just have to do it and hope they come with you. If they don’t, that’s fine. It’s only right that they come with you if they believe in your vision.”

As for the future, the door’s now wide open. “If there wasn’t going to be a future, we wouldn’t have done anything,” admits Charlie. “We’re definitely doing another record and we want to get started on that this year if possible.”

Taken from the November issue of Dork, out now - order your copy here. Busted’s album ‘Night Driver’ is out now.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link="
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