James
from 

Starsailor
in depth Interview

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When did you decide that a career in music was for you?

When I realised how useless I was at everything else ha ha. Music & singing in particular was always something I enjoyed & seemed to get better at the dedication I put in. I loved playing football but I couldn’t get any better than below average no matter how hard I tried. I couldn’t get my head around maths or science either. 

Who are your musical inspirations and why?

Jeff Buckley for the vocals & quiet confidence. Nick Drake is a big influence too. It’s the ability to create magic & richness from his surroundings. I grew up with Britpop so Oasis,Blur & Pulp had an influence and The Verve at Haigh Hall was a big reason for starting the band & dedicating our lives to making it happen. Seeing another northern band from outside the big city flying so high. 

Can you tell me 3 things about yourself that people might not already know?

I’m obsessed with podcasts. Currently listening to one called S-Town about an eccentric genius. I hate cheese & I love chicken. 
 

What song of yours best describes you and why?

‘Silence Is Easy’ often I find it hard to gather my words & I think before I speak all the time perhaps too much  unless I’ve had a drink. Sometimes people think I’m being rude but I genuinely don’t know what to say next in a normal small talk conversation. 

What has been the best gig you have done to date and why?

With the band supporting U2 at the stade de france was pretty special & playing high up the bill on the main stage at T in the park. Scottish crowds are the best. Solo touring with One Republic. Paris was the best date 
 

If you could perform a gig at any venue where would it be and why?

Union Chapel. It’s a beautiful venue with amazing acoustics. 

What has been your best achievement to date?

Every recent gig feels like the biggest achievement. It’s amazing to still be here doing this. 

Would you like to achieve in the future?

Financial stability & happiness for me & my loved ones. 

Tell me a story from backstage or after a gig?

We did a gig in Moscow once & the band who supported us the singer owned a bar. He took us there after & gave us loads of vodka shots. The drummer fell down the stairs on a high stool(thankfully no serious injury) & I was so hungover but felt I had to visit the all the sites. I had to keep ducking out of Red Square churches etc so I could be sick in a bin & not on a piece of important history. The rest of the band carried on drinking the next day while I just wanted to curl up in a ball & sleep. Ben the drummer nearly got chucked off the plane because he kept shouting ‘Jimmy Walsh I fucking love you’ from the back of the place while they were trying to do the safety demo. 
 

What do you like best about being a musician and why?

I love getting to visit new places & having an outlet to express my emotions when I’m low. 

If you were not in the job you are now what would you be doing?

Work in a record shop I think. I couldn’t begin to imagine anything outside of music. 
 

What has been the best gig you have been too as a fan and can you tell us about it?

The Verve Haigh Hall. It was a magical day. I just remember the atmosphere was amazing & it showed me the power of music. Beck was superb at the same gig too & John Martyn 

What would your ideal festival line up be and why?

Paul McCartney would have to headline,Paul Simon just before,Fleet Foxes & Phoebe Bridgers. Would be a beautiful day of classic songwriting & blissed out America. 

What would you say is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Try not to leave songs unfinished too long or they’ll get lost. You get a great feeling from having something tangible to share & if you’re not 100% happy with it you can take what you’ve learned into the next creation. 

What things make you happy and what things annoy you?

Watching Liverpool win,spending time with my kids,watching indie rom coms. Watching Liverpool lose, things going wrong,flat packs,this government. 

What things do you like to do when you are away from music?

Watch films,go to gigs,watch Liverpool. The odd restaurant. I love a curry 

Do you think social media and the internet are a good thing in the music industry?

Yes & no. They are an important form of connection with your audience but it means you never get a break from it & you often bear the brunt of things that go wrong that are out of your control. People will ask you why ticketmaster haven’t refunded their transaction fee or where can they park near a venue. 

How important do you think you look and image is when it comes to being in the music industry?

It depends which area of the music industry. Lots of artists cross over into fashion particularly in pop so a sense of style is in important in that case. You should just be comfortable I think. Doesn’t mean you don’t need to make an effort. You can still get clothes that look good & feel good to wear. 
 

Can you tell us about any tattoos you have and the significance of them to you?

I don’t have any tattoos 

If you run the country for a day what would you change about it and why?

Close the tax loopholes that the very wealthy take advantage of. Bring back the universal credit uplift. Invest in the NHS. Introduce lower taxes for people who didn’t get support during the pandemic. 

What would your ideal day consist of?

A nice curry,a few films & off to play a gig in a beautiful location like Tuscany

What has been your experience during the Covid 19

situations.Can you tell us how this has affected you personally,how it has affected you professionally and maybe a story from this time or a message for people out there?

It’s been very tough but rewarding to have all that time to write & create. I’ve got a mountain to climb now because of losing so much income & getting no support but I’m up for the fight. Lots of people have ended up in the same boat so I would just say don’t let them drag you down. I think many creative people are invisible to the powers that be. That they’re jobs don’t count. 

How would you answer the question Who are Starsailor and what are the differences between you as a music artist and you away from music ?

Starsailor are an indie band from the northwest (Wigan,Warrington & Chorley) who found success in early 00’s with the critically acclaimed ‘Love Is Here’ a sensitive alternative to the more brash & upbeat sound of The Strokes at the time. Away from music I’m more insecure & quiet. 

What was the first record or song you purchased and why?

Blur ‘Parklife’ it just sounded like nothing else around. 

What would say to someone thinking about becoming a musician and getting into the music industry?

Think long & hard about it. Enjoy the creative process & stick to your guns. There’ll be a lot of criticism some of it useful but if you take too much of it onboard you’ll end up a watered down version of yourself. 

If you could collaborate with any other band/singer or musician who would you choose and why?

I’d love to work with Norah Jones because I wouldn’t have to worry about production elements which isn’t my strong point. We could just write a classic ballad. 

If you could have written one song from history which would it have been and why?

‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ it sounds like a hymn that’s been around for hundreds of years. Absolutely epic. 

What things make you uncomfortable?

When people are drunk & keep repeating themselves when they’re talking to you & have to keep telling you over & over how genuine they are no matter how many times you say

‘Honestly I believe you & I appreciate what you’re saying’ 

If you wrote a book about yourself what would it have in it?

I’d write an alternative story of my life where all the little career setbacks worked out. All the songs I pitched for big artists were recorded. Ha ha 

What has the rest of the year got in store for you?

Busy busy. Loads of solo gigs & rescheduled Starsailor shows & I’ve got an 8 month old so she keeps us busy when I’m not on the road. It’s just great to be back at it after a really difficult 18 months