We speak to James Blunt ahead of the inaugural Bath Cup @BathRacecourse , plus you can win two tickets to see the show
Singer/songwriter and King of Twitter, James Blunt, closes his European tour at Bath Racecourse on September 15th. Having recently released his fifth album ‘The Afterlove’, where collaborates with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Ryan Teddar, Blunt takes time out about the fun he had making the album, teaching Ed to ski and in return, helped him become a better songwriter.
HOW ARE YOU?
I’ve been well, actually. You know, excited. This is a quite different album, which is really fun. My band are excited by it, the record company are excited by it too and then we’ll see if the most important people are.
DID YOU DECIDED TO REINVENT YOURSELF IN A WAY?
I’ve done four albums that I loved, all of them, but to repeat myself would be boring. If you want those songs, it’s easy to hear those songs. It’s nice to do something new and fresh and something that excites me. I’m on my fifth album, so I took longer doing this rather than the year I might take, I took two years. Rather than the 25 songs I’d normally write, I wrote 100 songs and I wrote them with a great deal of energy, without a concept or a theme. I just wanted to do something that was fun and maybe, as I say, a little different.
I met with some really exciting people from Ed Sheeran to Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic, Stephan Moccio who writes for The Weeknd, and MoZella who wrote ‘Wrecking Ball’. And fl ying out and doing these things with these people just gave an energy. When we had two ideas, we’d look at the one in one hand that was like the other albums or the one that was different and we’d say, ‘Let’s do the one that’s different,’ because it’s going to make us have fun and if we’re having fun, it will turn into a song that other people we hope will enjoy as well.’ That’s why I’m really excited by the result. This is not just an album that I want to put out, it’s an album which I enjoy listening to myself.
WHEN YOU WRITE A HUNDRED SONGS INSTEAD OF 25, DOES IT MEAN IT’S FOUR TIMES AS GOOD?
Well, it means we have lots to choose from. By the end, by the hundredth song, which we only finished last week, the one we did with Ed and Ryan, together, called ‘Time of Our Lives’. Like I said, we only finished those a week ago. It just means that the options are greater and greater, so the bar and the level I hope is better and better. So in the songwriting and the production, I feel confident. This is a confi dent album.
ARE YOU ALL IN ONE ROOM WHEN YOU ARE SONGWRITING?
Absolutely. It’ll work in different ways. Ryan and I have lots of experience writing together. I’d call him up with two ideas, play the two to the record label.
The label would say, ‘Hey, go for the safe one.’ Ryan would say, ‘Get on the plane. Let’s play the exciting idea.’ And I’d fly out and work with him for three hours before he gets on stage at the AMA’s. Ed came on a holiday with me to Verbier to go skiing. I was his ski instructor during the day and by night he taught me how to write songs. So we had fun.
HOW GOOD ARE YOU AS A SKIER? AND HOW GOOD IS HE?
I’m very lucky. I’ve skied all my life. And I have a place in Verbier. I live there in the winter, so I’ve been very lucky to ski a lot. He has only skied a couple of weeks in his life now and he’s coming on strong.
HOW DID YOU AND ED SHEERAN BECOME FRIENDS?
We met through Elton John, really. That’s a nice thing to say, ‘Elton John introduced us.’ He owns a management firm who’ve managed me for many years and that management firm started managing Ed and we met through that firm. I suppose we have a mutual friend in Elton, who helped both of us at the start of our careers.
ANY COMPETITION INVOLVED? LIKE WHO’S WRITING THE BETTER SONG?
I think I know [laughs].
BUT YOU CAN BEAT HIM ON THE SLOPES?
Yes, exactly, I’ll beat him at skiing [laughs].
People often ask about competition in music and it’s easy to make it into a competition but it’s not. This album, for me, shows exactly why not. It’s about a collaboration of great talent. The people I worked with have made this incredibly exciting album. They’ve been really exciting to work with and a real inspiration. You can see that music is my passion, because I’ve worked with those people. It’s not a competition.
If I was just working on my own for this album, I would have repeated the same four chords. Instead, I made something I love, so that collaboration meant something special.
You know you can buy more than one album in your life, you can buy the OneRepublic album as well as the James Blunt album as well as the Ed Sheeran one.
YOU DO HAVE A GREAT SENSE OF HUMOUR, ESPECIALLY ON TWITTER?
I would like to think so. Sometimes I’m portrayed as quite serious, which I’m not.
IS IT LIKE YOU WANT TO CORRECT THIS PORTRAYAL?
No, I don’t have an issue with it. I mess around on twitter and I think you can hear the humour in this album. Defi nitely in some of these songs you can hear, which, again, made it really fun to make.
DO YOU HAVE SOMEONE WHO EDITS YOUR TWEETS OR IS IT LIKE DONALD TRUMP WHO’S IN THE MIDDLE OF NIGHT TWEETING SOMETHING?
I hope that’s the only compassion you’ll give me today [laughs]. I have no editing, no.
SO WHAT IS THE ‘AFTERLOVE?’
It doesn’t exist, maybe that’s the point. I think it just fitted. Is it a heavenly place? I don’t know. Is it better than now? Is it worse than now? I’m not entirely sure. It seems to fi t all the songs, but all the songs in a different way. The afterlove of having achieved love or when a love is dead, when the love is fi nished, or when a love can’t exist, or after popularity or anything like that. It seems to fit in many different ways. It seems positive or it could be negative. That’s why I liked it.
YOU MAKE FUN OF ‘YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL’ IN THE SONG ‘2005’ , YOU SAY, ‘I REALISE ALL I DO IS APOLOGISE FOR A SONG I WROTE IN 2005.’
Yeah, and I put it on the extended version because I thought it was a good song for maybe fans of mine to have, but I didn’t want that guitar based song on the main album, because the main album is something more confident than that, but yeah we enjoyed writing it. It’s amusing.
HOW IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THAT SONG NOW AFTER TWELVE YEARS?
It’s great. I know that when I reach it in a concert it’s almost time for a beer [laughs], so it’s always a happy moment for me [laughs].
BUT YOU ONLY HAVE A BEER AFTER YOUR CONCERT? YOU ARE QUITE EASY GOING WITH IT AREN’T YOU? YOU’RE NOT LIKE ROCK-N-ROLL, PARTY LIFE STYLE?
I have, definitely, along the way, and you can hear that in some of the different songs. Yeah, come on, I live in Ibiza, don’t write me off [laughs]. This isn’t an album just about party songs. They’re deep, rich, and meaningful songs, absolutely. My second album might have been oriented about Ibiza clubs. This isn’t about that so much. But if you’re asking me if I no longer go out at night, no, I do go out at night. I’m still alive [laughs].
NOW, WITH FAMILY AND EVERYTHING. HOW SETTLED DO YOU FEEL? DO YOU STILL HAVE A WILD SIDE IN YOU?
For me, I don’t think I’ll ever settle down in the sense of calming down. Hopefully you meet someone who comes with you on the journey. That’s what life’s about. You don’t meet someone and stop doing what you do. My band and crew are my family, but my real family will come and join me on that. I’ll miss them when I’m not with them and they’ll come and join in. So, no, very much alive.
Ed came on a holiday with me to Verbier to go skiing. I was his ski instructor during the day and by night he taught me how to write songs. So we had fun.
Win two tickets to see James Blunt at Bath Racecourse on 15th September.
For a chance to win, simply send us your name and contact details, on e-mail, to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing date: Fri 31 August
Usual T’s and C’s apply.