Henry Lewis caught up with James Walsh at the end of what has been a triumphant year for his band, and as they look ahead to a date at LiVe Preston, we spoke to him about their triumphant return, Liam Gallagher's tweets and plenty more.
2017 marked the release of the first Starsailor record in almost a decade, with the last, All The Plans, landing in 2009. Before that, the band, who are assembled with members from Warrington, Wigan and Chorley, had released records consistently with four in just eight years.
In 2001 their debut, Love Is Here was met with critical acclaim, and peaked at number two in the album charts, and the band ended the year by winning the "Brightest New Hope" award at the NME Awards. Three albums, a five year hiatus and a greatest hits package later and the band are back in business, with All This Life dropping back in September, and proving very popular with fans and critics alike.
Couple that with a UK tour, and some big name festival dates penned in for 2018, and it's all systems go for the band, who seem to be taking it all in their stride - we spoke to guitarist and singer James Walsh as Starsailor look forward to a date at LiVe Preston on Wednesday 20th December.
You released your first album in 8 years this year - what prompted the return to recording?
We’d started writing again but the support from Cooking Vinyl was a big factor. We didn’t want to cobble something together without the support of a decent label to get it to the audience so their backing really gave us the impetus to make an album we could be proud of.
How much has the music scene changed since your debut in 2001?
Massively. Spotify didn’t exist & now it’s most people’s first port of call to listen to music & discover new stuff. Gigs used to be a tool to sell records now it’s the other way round for most artists.
Would you say the things that inspire your writing have changed massively since your first record - what sort of things prompt you to write your lyrics?
It’s changed a lot. Obviously the first albums lyrics were written between 18-21 so the lyrics are quite angsty and emotional. What ifs. I’ve been through a marriage break up and various career ups and downs so the new album is drawn from real life experiences rather than imagination and longings.
Back in 2001, Love Is Here was number 5 - behind The Strokes, Spiritualized, White Stripes and Jay Z, in NME’s best albums list - how did you feel about that at the time? Were you fans of the other records?
Hugely honoured. I love The Strokes & Stel our bass player plays regularly with Spiritualized. I never saw The Strokes & White Stripes as the ‘antithesis’ of bands like us or Coldplay. There’s room for everything. They were going down their own path entirely. If you pigeon hole your tastes youre missing out.
What was it like entering the indie scene post britpop - did it feel like an uphill task? Or did those bands really help to pave the way for the bands that followed?
I think they paved the way. Before that dance music was the big thing where I grew up. Everyone wanted to be a DJ. All of a sudden everyone wanted a guitar again when Oasis, Blur etc came along. Like most 14 year olds I was a little too inspired at first but once we added the Jeff Buckley, Neil Young and Free influence we created something new.
What have been some of your favourite releases this year?
Julien Baker ‘Turn Out The Lights’, Lomelda ‘THX’, Paradisia are great too. We did a few shows with them
You’re on a huge bill for Neighbourhood next year - how did that feel to be announced alongside Noel G etc?
Great. Two of the band are Warrington born and bred so it’s something of a homecoming for us.
Have you paid much attention to all the Gallagher based malarky this year?
Oh yeah. I follow Liam on twitter. He’s a comedy genius. Perfect timing. I think he wears his heart on hissleeve and his new stuff is great.
Are you finding there to be a lot of young fans, discovering you for the first time since all This Life came out?
Yeah. I think we’re finally at an age where the fans at university on our first tour have teenagers now who they’re bringing to gigs and getting into the band.
I believe Peter Kay joined you onstage at a christmas show 15 years ago - what was that all about? Is he a friend of the band?
I think it happened through his agent. We were obsessed with ‘That Peter Kay Thing’ and ‘Phoenix Nights’ at the time so it was a dream come true. I think it was the Lancashire connection that swung it (Chorley/Bolton)
What are Starsailor's plans for the future?
See how this album goes and take it from there. The last thing I’d want to do is drag it out and ruin the legacy and respect that we’ve built. But watch this space!