With not one but a pair of 10-year anniversary shows scheduled for December, we decided it was high time we got frontman Charlie Simpson on the phone to see what exactly is going on in camp Fightstar...
Before we get into it, here are those London dates again...
15 - LONDON Brixton Academy
16 - LONDON Forum
Right then, what have you got for us, Charlie?
SO WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND THESE TENTH ANNIVERSARY SHOWS?
Says Charlie Simpson (vocals / guitar): “We’ve been a band since the end of 2003, and released our first EP, ‘They Liked You Better When You Were Dead’ at the beginning of 2005. I’ve always wanted to do something to celebrate the tenth anniversary, so this has been a while in the making. The problem has been knowing where to put it! In the end we’ve decided somewhere between those two dates is probably the best bet. I was on holiday in France this summer and asked the guys if they’d be up for doing a show. Everyone was totally into the idea. I’ve seen quite a bit of them over the last few months while I’ve been touring, and we decided to go for it. I’m really pleased by the reaction the announcement has had.”
HAVE YOU BEEN TAKEN ABACK BY THAT RESPONSE?
“I’ve always felt that we’ve had an amazing fanbase who’ve supported us through everything. Over the past four years while I’ve been concentrating on my solo stuff, I’ve constantly been asked about whether Fightstar would do shows again - whether we’d make some new music - and every time, I’ve said that in time, it’ll happen. But even so, I’m surprised by the sheer outpouring of love! It just shows that our records still resonate with people.”
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN PREPARING?
“Al [Westaway, guitar / vocals] and Dan [Haigh, bass] live in London now, and they have this cool kind of creative space for their film production company, Horsie In The Hedge. The whole thing started with us taking our gear out of storage and moving it there. The photo that we tweeted, that got people talking again. We’ll be up there for a week before the show, going through all the songs. I think the last time we played together was in 2009, so it’ll be interesting! Dan and I went on holiday together this summer. We ended up getting the guitars out, going over some of the tunes... we hadn't played together for so long. Now we’ve got to make sure we can still play this stuff!”
GO ON, THEN. WHICH SONGS WILL YOU BE PLAYING?
“The original plan was to play ‘Grand Unification’ all the way through, but seeing as this is a one off for now, it makes more sense to give people what they want to hear. It’ll be the longest set we’ve ever played as a band, covering songs from all three albums and the EP, too. We’ll cram as much stuff in as possible.”
“I love to play ‘Deathcar’ live, because the crowd always goes crazy for it. The toughest choice for us is knowing what to open with. We want everything to go off with a bang, you know? At the moment we’re considering giving the set a chronological slant, so it’d move through the songs in order. That’s not necessarily what we’ll do, but it’s being considered. ‘Paint Your Target’ is another favourite, and ‘Palahniuk’s Laughter’ holds a lot of resonance for me; it’s the song that started it all.”
YOU STILL FEEL AS CONNECTED TO THE OLDER MATERIAL, THEN?
“I’ve been listening back over those songs a lot recently, and they still mean a lot to me. The beginning of the band was such a crazy time, being put under an incredible amount of pressure, the media spotlight glaring over us from day one. Those songs represent a very difficult time in my life and career, and I’m excited about playing them again. They marked a turning point for me. Anyway, we always put a lot of energy into our shows, and this show be a real celebration. We’re not doing this for any other reason than to celebrate a milestone with our fans.”
DOES IT FEEL LIKE YOU STARTED THIS BAND 10 YEARS AGO?
“It’s pretty incredible that we started a decade ago, when I think about it. It definitely doesn’t feel that long ago. I can remember writing those songs and recording ‘Grand Unification’ really vividly. As time has passed, it’s been great to see how many people are still into this. That’s become the best thing about this: the love that there is for this band.”
SO WHAT COMES NEXT?
“As soon as we announced it, we started getting questions about what would follow; people wanting to know if there’ll be a new album or more shows. Some fans are disappointed that we’re not going around the country, but that’s not the aim at this point in time. We had to choose somewhere to do this, and London seemed to make the most sense. We definitely have plans to make music again and in the not too distant future we’ll start writing again, but right now I want to keep the emphasis on the journey we’ve been on as a band. When it’s done, we’ll start thinking about the future, but not before. We’re still open to this, and partially this show is meant to make a statement that, ‘Yeah, we’re still a band, we’re still together.’ People ask me if Fightstar has broken up a lot, and this is meant to assure our fans that it’s not over at all. We still love making music together, we want to write more.”
HOW ARE YOU GOING TO BALANCE THE BAND AND YOUR SOLO PROJECT GOING FORWARD?
“It’s a great balance, and I can’t even compare the two. Rightly so! If I’d come out with solo stuff that was remotely reminiscent of Fightstar, there’d have been no point doing it. If Fightstar has two sides, I do too. My musical makeup is divided into those two sides, the heavy stuff and that acoustic, harmony-driven sound. I love both of them equally, and will always keep them separate. I just played my biggest solo show to date at the Roundhouse, and loved every minute. Equally, I can’t wait to walk out at the Forum. I’m so lucky to have the support that allows me to do both. At first wasn’t sure how people would react to my solo material because it was so different to Fightstar. Now, I’m in a position where I can pursue both things, the two separate parts of my life.”
Interview by Rob Sayce.