Fightstar Frontman Charlie Simpson on Comebacks, Reunions and New Projects
UK alt metal band Fightstar’s frontman Charlie Simpson on their new album ‘Behind the Devil’s Back’ and returning to his pop rock band Busted after a decade
When UK singer-guitaristÂ Charlie Simpson leftÂ pop rock band BustedÂ at the height of theirÂ fame in 2004, it was becauseÂ he felt “the music wasn’t really fulfilling.”Â He then turned to his alternativeÂ metal side project Fightstar, formed inÂ 2003 with guitarist/vocalist Alex Westaway,Â bassist Dan Haigh and drummer OmarÂ Abidi. More than a decade later, SimpsonÂ seems to be a notable example in outgrowingÂ a certain kind of pop music [take note,Â Justin Bieber].
That teen who sang “What I Go to SchoolÂ For” and “Air Hostess” in the early 2000sÂ was soon screaming his throat out withÂ Fightstar, which was influenced by bandsÂ such as American metal band Deftones andÂ post-hardcore band Thrice, along with clearÂ rock influences by the likes of The Cure.Â Simpson says over the phone from London,Â “I’ve always loved Deftones ”“ they’re one ofÂ the best bands around.”
But even after one EP and three albumsÂ that put them on the UK AlbumsÂ Chart in six years, Fightstar took aÂ break in 2010 and the band membersÂ began concentrat ing on theirÂ individual projects. SimpsonÂ went mellow again, releasing two indie/folk albums while Haigh and WestawayÂ formed electro/synthwave project Gunship.Â It was only after playing sold-outÂ shows to celebrate their 10th anniversaryÂ that Fightstar reunited to write theirÂ fourth album, Behind the Devil’s Back,Â which released independently last year.Â Says Simpson, “We had very much reachedÂ a free state of mind when we did it,Â so we weren’t really thinking aboutÂ whether it’d be something people wouldÂ enjoy listening to. No one had any otherÂ agenda apart from making a record thatÂ we love. We didn’t want to worry aboutÂ whether a song should be a single or gettingÂ played on the radio or anything. TheÂ aim was to make an album that made usÂ happy and I think it’s come out best amongÂ all the records.”
A straight-to-the-riffsÂ album, Behind the Devil’s Back includesÂ Westaway and Haigh’s love for synth thatÂ came from Gunship. Simpson adds, “IÂ started using a seven-string guitar for theÂ first time. That gives a lot of power to theÂ guitar sound.” But in the midst of all theÂ breakdowns, there’s still real emotive energyÂ in Simpson and Westaway’s vocals onÂ the album, something that makes FightstarÂ one of those timeless metal bands noÂ one ever outgrows. Simpson says, “That’sÂ what we strive to do…Not to be part of anyÂ scene. The bands that we love like [AmericanÂ rock act] Thrice, Deftones ”“ they’veÂ always done that. Their stuff hasn’t goneÂ in phases.”
After the release and success of BehindÂ the Devil’s Back, Simpson has gone backÂ to the start, reuniting with Busted membersÂ James Bourne and Matt Willis in NovemberÂ last year. He is going to have quiteÂ a year touring with Busted and a few otherÂ projects. Simpson says, “I’m gonna be releasingÂ a project with my brothers, calledÂ Once Upon a Dead Man. That’s more sortÂ of electronic-y stuff, which is going to beÂ cool. I’m also releasing a few solo things,Â but it’s mainly touring. There’ll be a BustedÂ album coming at the end of the year.”Â He adds, “Fightstar will definitely be backÂ in the future to record more stuff. It’s goingÂ to be a busy year.”
This article appeared in the February 2016 issue of ROLLING STONE India.Â