As Busted gear up for their anticipated comeback tour later this year, the group have looked back at their initial heyday – and why they’re more excited than ever to release reworked versions of their greatest hits.
The group – James Bourne, Matt Willis and Charlie Simpson – announced last week that they will return with a UK arena tour later this year to mark their 20th anniversary.
In addition to the tour, the band will also release a 15-track album featuring fresh re-workings of their classic hits – the first being a brand new take on Loser Kid (Loser Kid 2.0) featuring Simple Plan on April 14.
“We did our comeback tour in 2016, but the focus there was on just breaking the ice so it just felt different,” Simpson told Rolling Stone UK.
“Now, we’re celebrating something that everyone understands. It feels like this is the tour that would have happened had we never gone away. For a Busted fan, they would be stupid to miss this. If there’s any Busted fan that ever wants to see us again, this is going to be the tour to see.”
As for that anniversary, it’s easy to forget just how unique of a proposition Busted proved when they first arrived at the end of 2002. The youthful good looks and charm of James Bourne, Charlie Simpson and Matt Willis may have mirrored their boyband contemporaries, but here was where the similarities ended.
They were a chart-friendly group that dared to play their own instruments and had more in common with the likes of Blink-182 than anyone else on the UK music scene at the time.
“You have to remember that at the end of the nineties, pop was in a dreadful state,” reflects Busted’s Charlie Simpson.
“It was super manufactured and bands like Atomic Kitten and 911 gave off the impression that it was full of cast members in a band that was owned by a record label or someone like [music mogul] Simon Fuller. It felt very much like a product and I think Busted was a dose of realness that was just void at the time.”
That dose of realness was immediately latched upon. They inspired a generation of youngsters to pick up guitars, while picking up a slew of Brit Awards. To date, their debut has sold over 1.3 million records.
But at the same time, the band were still subjected to label demands. In some ways, they admit the reworked tracks provide them with a chance to deliver the production and sound that some tracks were never capable of achieving.
An early exclusive listen of ‘Loser Kid’ reveals to Rolling Stone UK that the group have taken a heavier approach than their heyday.
“I look back now and I’m just very pleased that 20 years later we’ve got the chance to do it again and, and we’re lucky to be in that position to be able to have a fan base that are now, you know, still with us. It’s a really fun project and to get people that we love on it, I just think it’s all cool, man,” says Simpson.
Looking back on those twenty years, Matt Willis remembers the first time he met Charlie – and wasn’t entirely sure of how to take the singer’s upper class accent.
“I remember Charlie speaking in an audition and going ‘is he joking?'”, Willis recalls.
“I was like, I didn’t realise people really spoke like the Queen! I mean, it’s like when you see those received pronunciation plays!”
James adds: “I felt I like I bridged the gap a bit. I’m not terribly posh, but Matt was quite cockney and Charlie was extremely posh! He’d come into rehearsals and say ‘what we are doing on July 31? I have to be at the Commodore’s Ball! ‘I’m just like, what the fuck is a Commodore?” It sounded like some next level posh shit!”
And while their friendship may have been rocked by Charlie’s departure, which led to the band’s split in 2005, they insist that they’re now stronger than ever.
“Over time, you live and die by your songs and our songs have stood up for a reason,” says Matt.
“We may not have been together for a lot of the last 20 years, but when we do come back together, the thing that has really been a factor in allowing us to return is that our songs have been there and held their place, even when we haven’t been performing. That’s the thing, our songs can do their thing when we’re not a band. The plane flies when we’re not flying. But now, we’re back and we can’t wait.”