■ The Busted star, 33, on leaving the band, rejoining the band, being wary of twitter and whether talent is genetic
You have a new Busted album out. What’s the deal this time?
This album was made with Busted fans in mind. We’ve gone back to basics on this. If people had never heard of Busted before, this is the album I’d give them.
Was it a challenge to go back and write the same sort of pop songs you were writing 20 years ago?
It wasn’t a challenge. We wrote a load then wrote the song Nineties, which was the catalyst track — the rest of the album came pretty quickly. We wrote on acoustic guitars, which is how we used to write back in the day.
Why did you rejoin Busted?
Matt [Willis], James [Bourne] and I hadn’t spoken for a long time, then I started hanging out with James again in 2014. We started writing songs, ended up liking what we were writing and decided to do the band again. It just evolved gradually over two years. The last album, [2016’s] Night Driver, was quite different. This album is the album I wish we’d made 15 years ago. There were parts of the early records and the way they were marketed that I had issues with, which is why I wanted to leave in the first place. All that’s rectified with this record. We have full control over what we do. It’s a much more liberating experience this time.
What did you have issues with in the past?
The label would want us to do things we didn’t want to do and because we were so young we were talked down to. Now I have ten years’ experience of doing my own albums and we have full control. It was just things like me wanting to have the drums up in a mix and the label saying it wouldn’t work for radio. Now we give the label the record the way it is and they promote it.
Was there much resentment when you rejoined the band, given it was you leaving in 2004 that caused the split?
There was never any resentment. When I left the band it was due to creative reasons — it was nothing to do with the relationship we had. We drifted apart and didn’t talk for a long time but there was never any animosity and I’m really glad about that. Matt and James were so supportive when I left to do [new band] Fightstar. They understood why I wanted to do it and never said to me they were p***ed off — and at the end of the day my decision ended the band.
What was your run-in with The Rock about?
I said to a fan on Twitter I wasn’t a huge fan of the new Jumanji because I loved the original and didn’t realise the fan had put The Rock in on the tweet. The Rock wrote something back but it was tongue-in-cheek. He seems like a lovely guy. I just wasn’t a fan of the movie but I couldn’t believe how much blew up from such a tiny thing — it was in the papers and everything.
Has it made you a bit more wary?
Definitely. It’s made me not want to be on social media. I see it all the time, stuff that’s said quite innocently is blown up into the most outrageously big thing. There are two trains of thought — if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it, which I think is a good way to live, but you should also be able to express yourself. As long as what you’re saying isn’t ill-judged or abusive you should be able to say it — but with social media you have to be prepared for a backlash.
Is your new baby, Jago, doing anything cute?
He’s ten months, crawling around, he’s a happy little chap and my eldest [Arlo, three] is becoming interested in drums and guitar. Having kids is a change of pace but I love it. It changes your perspective on life — it’s not about you any more, it’s all about your children.
Is musical ability hereditary?
I think so. I taught myself drums and piano without lessons. There must have been something that enabled me to take to it naturally. If it’s not in your genes you can still learn to be a great player but maybe it makes things easier and more natural to learn, which I found when I was growing up. I started playing guitar when I was six and then piano and drums when I was eight.
Why did you start playing the guitar?
My dad used to play Jackson Browne and The Beatles, and my older brothers bought Nirvana and Metallica albums, which really made me want to play — I started with a Spanish guitar when I was six and my first electric when I was seven.
What has your career in showbiz taught you?
Be yourself and follow your instincts. Whenever you wonder what the best thing to do is, just trust your gut and think, ‘Does this make me content and can I get out of bed in the morning knowing what I’m doing makes me happy?’ Follow your intuition.
Busted’s album, Half Way There, is out now and their arena tour starts on March 23