An Interview With: Busted’s Charlie Simpson

In 2005, at the tender age of 10, my young heart was broken by Charlie Simpson.

In fact, Charlie broke thousands of hearts when he announced his shocking departure from Busted, the band behind the early-noughties classics such as “Year 3000” and “What I Go To School For”.

When I’m asked to interview Charlie, flashbacks of ripping Busted posters off my bedroom walls suddenly hit me but time is a great healer and I’m prepared to forgive and forget and it seems many others are feeling the same.

“Yeah, it’s all been forgiven I think,” Charlie says with a laugh when I remind him of the fury he caused years ago. He adds: “People do come up to me from time to time and say I hated you ten years ago but now it’s fine because you’re getting back together.”

The 2015 Busted reunion came as a huge surprise to fans, with Charlie himself even admitting he never seen it coming. For years he repeatedly told journalists the reunion would never happen. “I honestly think I’ve lost count of how many times I said I would never do this again and I genuinely meant that. There was a time where I said I couldn’t do this again and I wholeheartedly believed that,” said Charlie at a press conference in November 2015, announcing the reunion.

So what changed for the man who left the band due to musical differences? According to Charlie, it was all down to time.

He said: “When I left the band James, Matt and I were very, very different creatively. We were so far apart and I think we could not have made an album that all of us were happy with so I felt like the only way was for me to leave because we would have ended up driving our friendship into the ground which would have been awful.

“But we preserved our friendship which allowed us to come back now and I think the time in between has just changed us and evolved us as musicians and now we very much are on the same page – it’s like we had to go away to come back.”

When Busted first burst onto the scene back in 2002, their pop-punk sound made the band a hit with their predominantly teenage girl fanbase, many of whom – including myself – are now older but still delighted that they have managed to come back together and the returning fanbase is something Charlie now notices at gigs.

“It’s been funny to see the wide span of ages because now there are 15 year old’s that were Busted fans, I mean they must have been about five years old. And also, you’ve got people who are like 35, so we’ve crossed a huge demographic and it’s amazing to see the difference, it’s nice to see.”

However, Busted’s new sound – which Charlie describes as “just good pop music” – has also attracted a new legion of fans. “I think that because it is quite a big departure in sound there are people who might not have been into Busted first time around but they’d listen to this record and be into it so that’s something that is really exciting for us,” said Charlie.

Although they’re no longer writing songs about school teachers or air hostesses, with Charlie noting that the new album is very different to back in their early days and features “introspective tracks looking at the way this whole thing happened”, fans can rest easy because their classics will still be featured in the new tour.

Charlie said of the Night Driver tour, which is coming to Usher Hall in Edinburgh on 25 February and Glasgow’s O2 Academy on 26 February, that there will be a good mix of new and old, adding: “It’s going to be amazing. I think this will be the best tour we’ve ever done because there’s just a freshness and an enthusiasm to go out and play these new songs which I don’t think we’ve had before playing Busted shows and some of these venues are much more intimate so I think it’ll be such a fun night, we’re really excited for this new tour.”

It seems Glasgow will be a particular highlight on the tour for Charlie, as he added: “Honestly Glasgow’s one of my favourite places to play – I’ve played a bunch of times in Scotland with my band Fightstar and every time I come I find Glasgow to be one of the best cities to play in because of the crowds – you just don’t get crowds singing louder than a Glasgow crowd.

“And they are so passionate, there’s so much great music that has come out of Scotland over the years and you can just sense how passionate the crowds are about music when you play there.”

Discussing tour life now that all of the band members are in settled stages of their lives – Charlie is married with a young son, Matt’s married with three young children and James is in a long-term relationship – Charlie admits that all of their priorities are now different but he wouldn’t change it.

“Ten years ago we would have been like ‘Yeah fine, send us anywhere for any amount of time’ but now we can’t just go off for months on end because we need to come back and see our families so you just have things that you consider more than you did ten years ago.

“But I think in general I prefer it now than I did back then. I think now we are old enough to really appreciate it and I know so much more about the industry that I’m in and I’ve had a lot of experience now, doing different things, so I feel like this is so much better now this time around than it was last time.”

Although I was fully obsessed with Busted way back at the beginning and I’m still partial to belting out “What I Go To School For” now and again, I think I’ll have to agree with Charlie. With their new grown up sound, Busted are definitely so much better this time around.

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