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The Starsailor Interview - Saving the music

2006-03-29 10:58

We asked James Walsh (lead singer and guitarist) and James Stelfox (bassist) about touring with the Rolling Stones, recording with legendary producer Phil Spector and their rather eclectic musical tastes.

M-WEB: What was it like supporting the Rolling Stones at Twickenham?
Playing with the Rolling Stones is like the biggest honour you could possibly (have) - it doesn't really get any bigger than that as far as support slots go. So it's just incredibly flattering to be able to do that. We heard Mick Jagger saying how much of an honour it was to be the first band playing at Twickenham stadium and it was like...not quite, sunshine. (laughs)

M-WEB: Did you get to meet 'n greet Mick and his mates?
WALSH (bemused):
We didn't get anywhere near them really....
STELFOX: We were on the stage for the sound check, sort of near to Mick and Keith and the boys. So that was quite nice to be able to sort of see them just rehearsing and not being through the big stage show.
WALSH:'s something to tell the grandparents and the grandchildren really, that you watched the Stones do a sound check.
STELFOX (wryly): All our parents came as well and that's their area really, the Stones so, you know they all loved it?

M-WEB: Who's your ideal audience or listener?
I think it's always been important to us not to be the band that it is "cool to like" or whatever. On this album particularly we're playing to the bloke in the factory or dinner ladies or something, just anyone who can get something from the music. If people enjoy the music or get something from it it's a bonus if they know exactly where you're coming from.

M-WEB: "Music Was Saved" is a great song title, tell us more?
(It's) the most upbeat thing we've ever done. We wanted to get people's attention with this track definitely. The sort of pounding "Northern Soul" drums, the James and Motown bass line, the stabbing guitar chords and the keyboards on it. It's just a really direct track this one, you can play this about 7 o'clock before you go out for beers with your mates and you can sing it down the street at 11 o'clock when you're drunk.

M-WEB: You seem to wear your love of classic rock and singer songwriters on your sleeve. What are some of your influences?
WALSH: There's a common thread running through myself and the bass player and the drummer Ben. We all like the Stones and the Beatles and songwriters like Neil Young, James Taylor...Free, all three of us are big fans of Free. But there's also a rock background to the bass player and drummer as well where they like Slayer and Megadeth and Metallica. They went through all the Pearl Jam, that era which passed me by really. And then the keyboard player is like Charlie Watts. He's completely obsessed with jazz, loves Thelonius Monk and Miles Davis. It's quite a heady mix.

M-WEB: How did working with Phil Spector pan out?
Phil Spector got involved when we were doing an American tour we played at the Troubadour in L.A. His daughter Nicole came down and went home that night and said, "I've seen this great band Starsailor do you want to hear the album?" And he listened to it and picked out "Lullaby" as his favourite track and said "this is the band, the voice to get me back to the top" kind of thing. But we only found this out a few weeks later when we went back to America for a second tour and he invited us up to the house. And after the initial pleasantries he unleashed his master plan to make us the biggest band in history and to get his name back out there. (chuckles). So, it's an amazing experience really.

M-WEB: So has success changed your lives?
The good outweighs the bad as far as success goes. I think it's difficult at times when you try and go out and be anonymous and just have a drink or talk about the football or the weather or something and you're constantly reminded you are famous by someone in the corner going "get the beers you rich bastard". Or someone coming up and asking for your photograph. (laughs).

With their expressionistic guitar ebbs, passionate vocals and soaring, string-driven folk pop flavoured jaunts, Starsailor's restless soul rock proves there's indeed more to post-Britpop than Oasis or Coldplay. As their critically acclaimed debut album Love is Here and the recently released Silence is Easy show, their refusal to get caught up in any fad-driven scene is paying dividends, with everyone from 30-something parents to their teenagers getting into their groove.
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