Starsailor are back with a brand new album called ‘All This Life’ and from it a new single ‘Take A Little Time’. We spoke to lead singer James as he and the band prepared for the Leeds date of their latest tour, and began by asking him what people could expect from their live show.
Just a good show; a few of the songs from our new record ‘All This Life’ and a few of the old tunes as well!
How has the tour been going so far?
It’s being great. We’re only four gigs in now so it’s early days but it’s been brilliant so far; I’m really enjoying it.
Any personal highlights so far?
I think the last show we did in Bristol was really good; that was probably the best one so far.
You’re back with a new single called ‘Take A Little Time’; what is the inspiration behind the single?
I guess it’s about having a bit of time to yourself. Obviously there’s a lot of demands on your time and your attention so it’s important to take a deep breath and do things for yourself as well as other people and to please other people, taking stock of your life and relaxing for a while.
Musically how does it fit with your older material and the other songs on the album?
It’s a bit of a departure. It’s quite an upbeat, funky little number. It’s a bit different to the likes of ‘Alcoholic’ or ‘Blood’ off this album. It’s a more emotional moment. It’s one of the lighter moments on the album.
Is there a video on the way for the release?
Not that I know of the moment. We did a video for ‘All This Life’ and I think in this day and age there’s so little money in the music industry. We used to do a video for all the singles, and now it’s all lyric videos and keeping it simple! Obviously if it becomes a massive hit there might be some budget to do it, but at the moment we’ll just stick to the tune!
Your new album is ‘All This Life’. What’s the journey been like in recording that?
We did it down the road in Halifax with Richard McNamara who’s making a name for himself now as a producer. He’s got a residential studio as well so we all stayed down there which made it a good experience.
Was there a concept behind the album when you started to theme the tracks?
[There wasn’t] a particular concept. A lot of the lyrics were informed by my recent experiences and the ups and down of life that I was going through at the time.
Is it important to you as a singer-songwriter to put those personal moments into your music?
Yes, I think so. It’s difficult, obviously, when you’re talking about other people and the experiences you’ve had. It can only be your point of view so you have to make sure it’s not too harsh! I think it’s important as it’s cathartic writing songs, as you work through issues.
You’ve just celebrated sixteen years this month since the release of your debut album; what’s it like reflecting back on that album?
We certainly reminisced. It’s been a mad few years since we released that and you go through a period where the first album is really big and you try to move as far away from that as you possibly can as you try to prove that you’re more than just a one record band, but after all these years when going back to it that all these years later people still are fond of that record and it’s informed some big moments in people’s lives.
Did the break before you came back with your greatest hits rejuvenate you as a band?
Yes, definitely. I find the whole process, though a lot of it’s extremely enjoyable, like the touring aspect particularly – I really enjoy touring. But there’s certain things like pouring out blood, sweat and tears into a record and then it all hinges on one week, whether it gets on the radio [and] whether it sells anything. I find that whole process emotionally draining. I’m also working on different musical projects so the band isn’t the be-all and end-all, which you would think makes it less important, but that adds to the creativity and takes the weight of your shoulders, and it becomes more about enjoying music and four mates getting together and coming out with the best music we can really.
What is it about the live experience that you most enjoy?
I think it’s the crowd reaction. You know from the first song when you go on stage, if the crowd gives you a good reception then you know you’re in for a great night. Meeting people, seeing different cities, even for the second, third, fourth time it’s good to catch up with old mates!
What’s it been like revisiting your older material – have you done any tweaks to them?
We have to keep fairly faithful to the original versions, though ‘Good Souls’ and ‘Tell Me It’s Not Over’ take on a new life when we play them live, and they’re quite a bit longer than they are on the records as we like to go for it at the end. But generally the rest of the songs remain pretty faithful as people come to sing along and they know the songs better than us so if we take them off on a tangent we’ll get more complaints than people say they’re glad we’ve changed it up a bit.
What’s your favourite song off the album to play live?
‘FIA’! I love playing that. I just think it’s one of the best things we’ve done in a long time. It’s got quite a unique sound to it and I’m all for the sentiment of it and everything!
Finally if you had a motto from your new album would it be ‘Listen To Your Heart’, ‘Take A Little Time’ or ‘Fuck It All’?
All of them! I suppose ‘Listen To Your Heart’ is the most resonate. There are times when ‘Fuck It All’ is relevant and apt and time’s where it isn’t and you need to think about things for a bit, but ‘Listen To Your Heart’ always works at whatever level, so that’s where you should take your guidance really!
Starsailor – Live at Leeds
Starsailor certainly delivered the goods in their 95-minute eighteen-track set that covered all their biggest hits and a selection of songs from their new album. Personal highlights for me including a brilliant energetic cover of ‘Tell Me It’s Not Over’ near the end of the main set, including a smooth interpolation with MGMT’s ‘Kids’, kicking off a strong concluding triplet that included personal favourites ‘Four to the Floor’ and ‘Silence Is Easy’. Mixing in songs from all the albums, even as someone not hugely familiar with the tracks outside of their big hits, it was a powerful and fun show with the band on strong form. Supported by two great acts this was a strong and well received show that packed out the Leeds Beckett venue.
Listen to your Heart
Poor Misguided Fool
All This Life
In the Crossfire
American Girl (Tom Petty cover)
Take A Little Time
Caught in the Middle
Tie Up My Hands
Best of Me
Tell Me It’s Not Over (with Kids)
Four To The Floor
Silence is Easy
(FIA) Fuck It All