Notes from the dressing room – Fightstar drink Red Bull or water, and appear to consume Cool Original flavour Doritos and very little else. I realise these observations aren’t telling you a lot about the band, so allow me to expand. Fightstar are on the verge of releasing their third full length album early next year, having progressed and grown as a band since forming in 2003. Charlie Simpson remains the most well known member (I know what you’re thinking, and yes, his eyebrows are BRILLIANT close up) having left chart topping Busted after several successful years to pursue a more musically fulfilling career with Fightstar, incorporating post-hardcore, emo and rock into his new direction.

I don’t know how familiar you all are with using digital recorders, but they’re great for interviews, particularly when you’ve realised that your own version of shorthand appears to be a page of wavy lines. The only problem arises when you have more than two voices within a room at any one time. I mean, I know my voice, horrifying though it is to listen to yourself asking questions (“oh my god, why did I say that? I sound like an idiot. Why am I laughing. Nobody made a joke! I’m never talking to a human again”) but after that, I’m basically lost.

What I’m saying, in essence, is please accept my apologies if I attribute a quote to a member of Fightstar when in fact it was a different but equally lovely member of Fightstar who happened to speak it. I talked to Charlie, along with guitarist and vocalist Alex Westaway and bassist Dan Haigh before a gig at the Newcastle Academy.

PB : How’s the tour been going so far ?

CS : Yeah, really good.

AW : It’s a good tour, really nice people so far!

PB: You’re playing with Feeder tonight. What’s that been like ?

CS : Yeah, we get on really well with them. We’ve never had such good hospitality on a tour before. We got a bottle of champagne the first night

AW : I think because they’ve been going for a while, they’ve kind of really got a really good way of touring.

CS : I’d give then ten out of ten. Top notch.

PB : Do you think you’re picking up new fans as you go along, or are you seeing familiar faces when you tour ?

CS : It’s funny, because most of these dates were sold out before we even started the tour, but probably about 30 of our fans are here tonight, and everyone else is a Feeder fan. I think that’s exactly why we wanted to do this tour. It’s a chance to get in front of a whole new audience.

PB : It’s a very different sort of crowd with Feeder. They’re a different sort of band to you.

CS : Yeah, I think so. They’re totally different. I mean, back in the day, they were a lot rockier I think. I was a big Feeder fan when I was younger so it’s really cool that they asked us to come with them.

PB : Did you ever think you’d be playing with someone you used to buy tickets to go and see ?

CS : No, not at all. I used to go and see them a lot.. I must have been five times when I was younger, so it’s all pretty cool.

PB : Where’s your favourite place to play a gig ?

CS : I think if i had to pick one venue in Britain it would be the ABC in Glasgow. It’s massive, it has a great sound, and... erm... the best dressing rooms? No, also, it’s an awesome city.

AW : Obviously Newcastle, as well...

PB : Don’t feel pressured to say that. I won’t hold it against you.

CS : No I do like Newcastle as well.. But if there’s one venue that pops to mind, it’s the ABC in Glasgow.

PB : What’s your favourite song to play live ?

CS : On this tour or ever ?

PB : Ever.

CS : The one that’s always guaranteed to have the crowd going crazy is 'Palahniuk’s Laughter', so that’s always a fun one to play. But you know what, when 'Mono' is good, then I love 'Mono'. When we really nail it, because night to night songs vary in quality, but when we hit it bang on, it’s amazing. Two nights ago in Manchester, we hit it bang on.

PB : How’s the new single, 'The English Way', been received so far?

CS : Yeah good man. They’ve been playing it on Radio 1 for the first time, so reaction’s been good. It’s a slight step in a new direction. We were listening to a lot of 80's music when we were recording, playing with synths and stuff, and we’ve always wanted to work with a choir and we got to do that. I think our next album is going to be the ultimate. Basically everything we’ve ever wanted to do, we’re just doing.

PB : Were you listening to Radio 1 earlier on this afternoon ? Because Scott Mills mentioned that he’d buy a bottle of wine for everyone in Britain if Busted got back together by the end of this year, kind of like how Dr Pepper are going to give away a can to everyone in the US when ‘Chinese Democracy’ is finally released.

CS : Yeah. I don’t think he’s going to get his wish there.

DH : Scott Mills... Fuck him! Oh wait, is this a radio interview?? I meant Scott... Thompson. He’s, erm, a Nazi. Yeah.

PB : Do you read your own reviews?

CS : Album reviews, I read.

AW: Only if someone tells us they’re good. If not then I don’t bother!

PB : I read one on the BBC website that seemed to have some bad reactions because it didn’t generally mention the songs very much.

CS : I haven’t read it, but yeah, the BBC... It depends what media we’re talking about, because the mainstream media I think are shit. Specialist media like 'Kerrang', 'Rock Sound,' other music magazines, I’ll always read those.

DH : Those are the ones that really matter to you. The others are talking about everything else as well. Gossip crap, which we don’t care about.

PB : Did you leave your record label because they were pushing for a new sound from you ?

CS : The first one (Sandwich Leg-Ed)we did. Our second record company (Institute Records-Ed)were going bust so we moved before they did. Luckily. The first one though, they kind of wanted it to be more mainstream, and I told them it was never going to be like that, but they wouldn’t stop trying to make us do it. I basically had to say if you’re going to keep insisting we change there’s no point us working here anymore. We’re a lot happier now. We get full control which is all we ever wanted.

PB : Are there any bands you’d like to play with in the future who you haven’t had the chance to yet ?

CS : I’ve always wanted to do Warped Tour. I know it’s not a band, but it’s something I’d really like to do. There are very few English bands who ever go on it so it’d be really cool if we got the chance to do it.

PB : Where do you get the inspiration for your music ? How do you tackle songwriting ?

CS : I don’t know really. Basically, it starts with an acoustic guitar. But the actual inspiration of what’s written comes from anything – other music, films, something you see on the news. Like 'Deathcar' (from previous album 'One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours') came from a documentary I saw about these cars in China.

PB : Yeah, I read about that. Is that a true story ?

AW : Yeah it does happen. There are these death cars in China, and they drive to a prison, pick up an inmate who’s about to be executed for whatever crime and on the way to the hospital they cultivate their organs so they’re fresh for transplant when they arrive.

PB : What was the 'Deathcar' video like to film ? It looks quite intense.

CS : Yeah it was really quick. We were given £500 and told to make a video. We didn’t know why, because it was never meant to be a single.

AW : It was more of a viral thing on the internet, and then a couple of music channels picked it up.

CS : Unless you bought the record, you didn’t really see the real dark side of Fightstar, so by putting 'Deathcar' out there we showed people the harder side.


PB : What’s your biggest ambition for Fightstar ?

AW : At the moment ? To finish the next record !

CS : It’d be cool to do a tour in Europe. We’ve never done that. Which is crazy, we’ve been going for five years, but yeah. I think we’re really going to push internationally with the next record, which is something we’ve never really done before. And then... Who knows man ? We wake up every day with a new goal, and do all we can to achieve it. And then we make new goals !

PB : You’ve had to change the name of one song and delayed another because they both referenced floods and at the time there were some natural disasters happening...

CS : Tell me about it. You know about 'Palahniuk’s Laughter' (originally titled ‘Out Swimming In the Flood’ before the 2004 tsunami)? I think we probably would have been fine with that anyway, but I just didn’t want to take any chances. I mean, I knew people who had family there at the time and it just seemed insensitive to release that at the time.

DH : Just unfortunate timing I suppose.

PB : Do you have any thoughts on people who use reality TV programmes to launch themselves in the music industry?

CS : I don’t have an opinion on them, I have an opinion on the actual machine that does it.

DH : 'The X Factor' represents the most refined, high level thought out architecturally driven mechanism for distributing music to the masses possible. Take a bunch of people, put them on TV for an amount of time and then sell the product. It’s high level genius design on how to peddle tat to the masses.

CS : I don’t have a problem with the kids, you know, because they’re just kids. I think it’s a big world and if you’re a kid at school you’re going to think "where the hell do I even start with this ?"

AW : You do get diamonds in the rough, like Leona Lewis.

CS : Leona Lewis – she’s a phenomenal singer! But it’s the machine, it’s so calculated. The judging is ludicrous because they have no qualifications – Simon Cowell does, okay, but the other ones ? It just makes anyone have a thirst for fame, beyond any desire of talent or creativity, which is an awful thing. Kids now, when they’re asked what they want to be when they grow up, will say "famous", and that makes something seriously wrong with our society. Fame is like a by-product of something you do, you can’t be famous for doing nothing, because what’s the fucking point ? Fame isn’t glamorous anyway. It’s shit !

AW : It’s the worst aspect of what we do. It’s invasive.

DH : The major labels spit out and control sales by saturating the mass media with manufactured songs, and then think why not take this one step further and have it on TV once a week ? They’ve taken it to the nth degree of cramming it down people’s throats. They’re destroying their own industry.

AW: They don’t even like to be called record labels anymore. They’re called “entertainment companies”. They’re clutching at straws. Very weak straws!

Miscellaneous additional information includes that the album is out in the spring next year, Dan’s granddad has in fact got a Penny Black stamp, and Fightstar made me promise to send them the link to this interview, but that pales in comparison to their obvious passion for the industry they work in and the belief and drive behind their work. A few more bands like Fightstar, a few less X Factor winners - that sounds like a plan to get the British music scene back on track now, doesn’t it ?















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