Charlie Simpson on marrying music with family life, and irrelevant singles

From Busted boy to bona-fide chart topping solo man renowned for heartfelt lyricism, deft guitar work and two highly acclaimed albums. Charlie Simpson has come a long way since his formative years as a teen idol, as he proved when we had a chat with the best-selling star about his work-life balance, how nobody buys singles anymore, and his forthcoming acoustic tour.

Hi Charlie, hope all’s well today. How was your Christmas?

“Yeah it was great, thanks. I spent it over in Kenya with my wife and her family, and then we got back a few days ago and straight into rehearsals for the new tour.”

This was your first Christmas since getting married. How different was it?

“Yeah, it was the first Christmas where I have spent actual Christmas Day away from my family, and Kenya is an awesome country- really enjoyed it. We went on safari and stuff, it was great. And now I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and hitting the road.”

This tour is very lo-fi, just you and an acoustic guitar on stage. What made you decide on that?

“One of my favourite artists is Jackson Brown, and he did a similar thing with Bo Diddley, who he wrote with for years and years. They did a show at the Royal Albert Hall where it was basically just a guitar. At the time I thought: ‘Oh, man, that is really cool’. The whole thing just really blew me away. That got me thinking about the idea, and I wanted to be able to show the songs in the format they were written. I write everything in acoustic, then add instruments later, so in the beginning it’s all very stripped back. That means the audience never gets to hear the tracks in their rawest form, so I’m looking forward to changing that with these dates.”

The experience sounds like it will be more intimate than your usual gigs. Does that make you more nervous?

“Yeah, definitely, man. When I go on stage there’s a camaraderie about it. This time it’s just me, by myself. But I think the experience should be liberating in a way. Having that really intimate connection with the audience.”

People often talk about the difficulties in balancing life on the road with life at home. How are you finding it now you’re a husband?

Charlie Simpson in Busted

Charlie Simpson back in his Busted days

“Yeah it’s hard, I mean, it’s hard enough as it is, but then when kids come along you don’t want to be away from them for very long. But it’s definitely workable, you just need to plan tours so you’re not away for the huge block periods of time.”

You released Comets as a single towards the end of last year, taken from your second album. Are you pleased with the reactions?

“Yeah it has been good. This is one of the hardest records I’ve ever had to make, and you always get nervous when you release new music. But the reactions from the crowd have been great and we have had some fantastic reviews too. So I think it has been a real success, I couldn’t be happier with it to be honest.”

Obviously, music sales are low these days, especially singles. Do you think singles are still a relevant format?

“I don’t really see singles as a relevant format at all, no. It might not be the lead track people are downloading or streaming- the idea is irrelevant and it will only become more irrelevant over time. Things will go the way they have in America, where the album gets released and then the fans just pick and choose what to listen to, what to download and so on. We will always make videos for lead tracks as promotional tools, but that’s really as far as it goes now.”

Finally, what’s next once the tour is done?

“Taking time off to catch up on things, recuperate. I have some festivals coming up once summer starts getting going, but no plans for any more studio time at the moment. It should be a good year, though.”

‘Comets’ is the second single taken from the Top Ten album ‘Long Road Home’ and was released on November 24th through NUA Entertainment and ADA. ‘Comets’ showcases Charlie’s distinctive vocals, described by the Independent as containing an “impressive depth and character”. The accompanying video is live on YouTube now: on January 24th in Dublin, he will visit thirteen cities across the UK including Glasgow, Manchester, Nottingham, Brighton and London. Tickets go on sale Friday October 17th at 9am from The closest he gets to Leeds is playing in York in two days time on Saturday night!

29 January 2015    Glasgow    King Tuts
30 January 2015    Manchester    Gorilla
31 January 2015    York    Fibbers
01 February 2015    Nottingham    Rescue Rooms
03 February 2015    Cardiff    Globe
04 February 2015    Bristol    Thekla
06 February 2015    Oxford    O2 Academy 2
07 February 2015    Brighton    The Old Market
08 February 2015    Colchester    Arts Centre
10 February 2015    London    Islington Assembly Hall