Busted: 'People will have to get over their perceptions of us'
As former boyband Busted return with a surprising new sound, channelling Daft Punk and 1980s movies, they tell us why its time for people to change their perceptions.
Charlie Simpson, Matt Willis and James Bourne found fame and legions of young fans as Busted in the early 2000s, thanks to hits like What I Go To School For, Crashed the Wedding and Year 3000. But once a punk rock boy band, not always a punk rock boy band, apparently.
"Yeah we have a past," admitted Busted at the recent press launch of their first new album in more than a decade, Night Driver. "But we have a future too."
After an acrimonious split in 2005, when Simpson left to concentrate on his other band Fightstar, the band patched things up last year to announce 2016's Pigs Might Fly reunion tour. But they also decamped to LA to try and write a new album, channelling 'grown up' influences like Skrillex and the 1980s movies they watched as kids.
"I'm very glad we did," Charlie Simpson told the BBC. "It was the first time we'd really just been together without any pressure from anyone and I think we're just really proud of the result."
The influence of Daft Punk's collaborations with Nile Rodgers is also clear to hear on new single On What You're On, while the video (and the album's name and artwork) owes plenty to Nicolas Winding Refn's stylish Ryan Gosling movie Drive.
"Back in the day, we made the music that we made because that's what we were into at the time," added Matt Willis.
"We made this record because that's what we wanted to make right now. We didn't aim it at anybody, we just kind of made it."
Did you feel like you had nothing to lose by getting in the studio together?
Charlie: That was it - we were all so happy just to be in a room. I mean that was a big step for a start, just for us to be in the room together with some guitars. It was all just very natural, just a free flowing process, we didn't really stop to think about it.
James: If we liked the way it sounded we just kept going. If we weren't feeling it in the moment we didn't finish it.
Charlie: We were getting in the studio at 10am, coming out at 8, 9pm and these songs were really being recorded on day-by-day basis.
Who are you most nervous about hearing it?
Charlie: I think it's the old fans I'm most apprehensive of - seeing if they're going to come with us on this new journey. I've got a feeling that they are. The people I've shown that were Busted fans back in the day absolutely love it. It's always nerve-wracking releasing any music, regardless of what it is. But you can't make music for other people, you have to be happy with yourself.
Matt: This is the exact album that I want to be on. Sometimes I listen to bands and I'm like, 'man, I want to be in that band!' And now I can hear my album and I'm like 'I want to be in that band'. And it's the coolest thing, it's like 'that's me!'.
Without wanting to sound rude, there's definitely an element to your new sound that's a bit more 'musically credible' than Busted in the old days?
Charlie: We have 10 years of experience and this album is who we are now. I don't feel it's like we're 'trying to do' anything. People's perception of what Busted is and was - obviously people have to get over that initially, because this is a very different thing.
But the music is our weapon, the music is what's going to do the talking and people either will come with us or they won't, but I believe in this music enough to believe that it will change people's perceptions.
James: They will come or they won't, but you know what? The door's always open.
Did you ever think about changing your name and doing a different project entirely?
Charlie: That is an interesting question. We never actually thought about that.
James: No. For all of us, being in a band that wasn't Busted would be weird. The whole point of a band name is so that people know who you are, and we are Busted. The three of us together are Busted, so that's the label - it's just a label.
Charlie: If you think of any bands that change their sound, they didn't change their name because of their sound. Many bands have gone on huge musical journeys.
I'm not comparing us to Coldplay in any way whatsoever, but if you listen to their album now and you listen to Yellow, they are effectively a different band. I guess the difference with them is they've evolved over time.
James: We weren't there to evolve in front of people's faces. You didn't see a transition.
Charlie: But we still evolved as people though - we evolved hugely.
You are planning some more live shows later this year - how do you think 'the two Busteds' are going to gel?
Charlie: Good question! We should have thought that through earlier!
Matt: That's going to be a real sticky point - how do we make these two bands co-exist?
Charlie: That's going to be the hardest part of this whole process, but with the old songs we are going to reinvent them a bit. We did for the [reunion] tour, the songs sounded different on the tour.
James: Songs are songs and they can be done so many different ways. People cover songs every day, but the songs exist always. So maybe there's a way that we can make some of them not feel like they're completely alien to what we're doing now.
Charlie: We will always play some of the old songs. We're not just going to not play old songs. But there will be a transition period as we move on.
We're going to start writing our new record soon.... in the next six months. And before long, there's going to be two albums, and then you've got the same amount of albums that are new and old. And then you do a third one and suddenly your new stuff outweighs your old stuff, so you end up just becoming that band anyway.
So you're already thinking about your third new album together?
Charlie: We are in a way, because we finished this album six months ago and we're going on to think about new songs.
Matt: If you listen to this record there's a progression. We were discovering new things as we were making it. So the next record's going to be even more fun again because we get to explore a few other avenues which we kind of touched on.
We can't wait to go back into the studio, we had such an amazing time. This is the most excited I've been about anything I've done creatively ever, so I can't wait to do more.
Busted's album Night Driver is out on 11 November. On What You're On is out now.