"The boobs are bigger!"
Over a decade on from when they first split, a lot has changed in the world of Busted. Once regarded as a pop act for the early teens only, their recent comeback tour saw reworked versions of old classics, appearances on previously unreachable festival stages like Isle Of Wight and a crowd of fangirls who, as Charlie points out, have grown up a fair bit since their early Noughties heyday.
And now, with new synth-heavy, '80s-inspired album Night Driver ready to drop, their music has changed too, the pop punk sound Charlie, Matt and James became famous for now firmly left in the past. Much like Fall Out Boy and Panic! At The Disco before them, they have moved on from the scene they emerged from to explore some new musical paths...
Charlie: I think we knew what record we didn't want to make and that was an extension of what the band was 10 years ago. I think a lot of people would think I'm coming back so it's gonna be a heavier version of what it was - that would have been the worst thing to do...
James: And also way too obvious. Like, way too obvious.
Charlie: I think we wanted to do something that none of us had done before. And so we discussed a lot of the music we were listening to even before we got back together and we sort of all agreed that the golden era of the '80s had a lot of untapped glory that you don't hear in today's pop music. There was a golden era of bands doing amazing pop music and we all wanted to tap into that.
James: And also, the other thing was when we listened back to the music we made with Busted all those years ago, you listen to it now - it doesn't hold up as much as you know you'd like it too...
Charlie: It sounds dated, really dated...
James: I think with this album we have a chance to listen back to this in 10 years and go "oh that holds up".
Charlie: If you listen to Genesis it sounds awesome now. And it sounds current now.
PopBuzz: One of the definite album highlights is the title track "Night Driver", surely that is a potential single?
Matt: In some ways, I really wish we'd released that first. Because I think it would have blown people's heads off! I mean people found "On What You're On" unexpected - don't get me wrong, I love "On What You're On", as soon as we wrote that song I thought "this is our first single" - but "Night Driver" is so out there that it would trip people out.
James: And it's the same name as the album so for that reason it should be a single really!
PB: Just from a basic promo point of view that helps...
James: It's the right message, it helps make people aware of the thing that you're actually trying to get people to hear which is the album. You've got The Weeknd on the radio like *sings* "ah ah star boy, star boy..."
Charlie: What's the album called? Oh, Star Boy! (laughs).
PB: On the McBusted record you had a track called "What Happened To Your Band"...
James: To be honest, I always saw that as a Busted song.
PB: Did you not think about doing a song on the new album where you look back at the old days?
Matt: There's no bad blood to deal with here, there really isn't. We didn't break up because we hated each other, we broke up because we weren't into the same kind of music anymore and we didn't want to make the same records. So that's why we broke up and we're back together because we do wanna make the same kind of records and we are into the same kind of music and we're all creatively in the same space. I don't feel like we need to have any kind of therapy.
That creative solidarity is even more remarkable given the huge amount of other eclectic projects each member has been involved in over the years. James has just completed work on the Busted musical for Youth Music Theatre UK, Matt has appeared in a number of acting roles on stage as well as TV presenting and Charlie has tried out all manner of musical styles across solo albums, emo-rock outfit Fightstar and family band Once Upon A Dead Man. Although perhaps his earlier bands had the better titles...
PB: Your brother Edd told me you were once in a band called Spleen...
Matt: I've seen photos of Spleen!
James: I think it's a brilliant band name! Honestly.
Charlie: I actually don't think it's that bad...
James: If you'd named Fightstar "Spleen" I reckon that's an extra million albums! I wanna hear Spleen.
It certainly sounds more promising than Matt's former garage crew Million Dollar Players, or MDP as they liked to be known. No wonder the trio aren't spending too much time focusing on the past. Still, as a longtime fan, I couldn't help but fire out a few questions I've been holding onto since the grand old days of 2004...
5 Questions I Would Have Asked Busted In 2004
1) Is the song called "Crash And Burn" or "You Said No"?
Charlie: It's called "Crash And Burn" - we had to change it because we thought it was a bit insensitive around 9/11.
James: So many things happened to us in those early days where we had to change names or we almost weren't allowed on TV with our song "What I Go To School For" because something happened at a school...it was weird stuff.
Matt: We almost didn't actually have a first TV performance, the only thing we had in our diary was one CD:UK performance. And that's all we had. We had a Smash Hits cover and it was all kind of going on this one performance. And then it got pulled. For about a week of our lives we were like "our band's ended!". But then they just put us on the next week (laughs).
James: The first time we went on CD:UK, I remember it was our first real TV thing. And there was this woman nervously hanging around where the camera was, between the camera and where we were standing...And I kind of gestured to the camera with the guitar pick in my hand and it looked like I was swearing down the camera. She went like *mouths* "Don't do that! Don't do that!". It was so weird.
2) Does it really "always looks so cool when spaceships come out of the pool" or is it just a bit impractical?
Matt: If you had a spaceship coming out a swimming pool that'd be the coolest thing on earth!
Charlie: You know Thunderbirds is massive again. It's huge again for kids.
PB: I was surprised they didn't just grab you guys and put that track as the theme tune or something...
Matt: It's still available! It's out there - go for it, talk to our publisher...
3) Be honest - what do you really think of The Jonas Brothers' version of "Year 3000"?
Charlie: I mean...if I'm completely honest...no, I'm not gonna be completely honest...
Matt: Dude, they paid my mortgage for four years, I'm stoked to bits. Thank you very much Jonas Brothers.
James: The thing about it is that...when I heard their version of it, I didn't really like it. But there has been some really good things that have happened as a result of it. I didn't like how they changed words around. But the thing is, what's mental is that "Year 3000" was synced in The Simpsons recently.
Charlie: We said they could only use it if they used the original...
James: But the thing is, when I asked them to do that, they already had chosen to use the original version. And the thing is I don't think they'd have been aware of the song if that hadn't of happened. So we ended up getting our version on The Simpsons which was cool. If someone had said to me all those years ago "if you let them do it you'll get your song on The Simpsons" I would have done it immediately.
4) If we ever leave the EU, how do you think it will affect your ability to mess your pants when you fly over France?
Matt: I think Charlie's your man for this...
Charlie: Well if we leave the EU, which I'm not sure we will anymore...well it all depends on the airfares doesn't it?
Matt: You'll just have to have a Visa...
Charlie: It'll be you'll have to buy cheaper pants 'cos the fares will be more expensive. You probably won't be able to afford pants 'cos the fares are too high so it'll just dribble down your f*cking leg (laughs).
5) Whatever happened to Ms Mckenzie?
Charlie: She's a lesbian now.
Matt: She's probably locked up for sleeping with her own students!
Charlie: Nah, lesbian. Definitely a lesbian.
It's clear that this is a whole new band from the one that first nailed those unison kick jumps on Saturday morning TV, more interested in music to cruise around L.A to rather than dive in the moshpit. Even their celebrity dopplegangers are different these days - his jet-black spiked hair matched with a shirt and tie combo may have made past-Matt (or "Beer Matt" as Charlie calls him) into the spitting image of MCR-era Gerard Way, but now James reveals a new Matt-clone - Dr Jackson Avery from Seattle-based soap "Grey's Anatomy"...
James: I have got this picture and I posted it and a lot of people, they just don't even question it...
Matt: I look nothing like him! He's a mixed race, very good looking man!
You can judge for yourselves on that one.
So a new album, a new sound, a potential new audience and a new chapter for Busted, far removed from the boys who sang about teacher fantasies and sexy airplane staff. But we will never learn how they truly view this new era until they answer the all important killer question:
PB: Sum up the new album in 3 emojis.
Charlie: It's easy. One is gonna be a saxophone. The other is going to be a car, obviously. And the other is going to be a moon - Night Driver!
Matt: Saxophone, car, moon!
PB: You are maybe the first band ever not to go for the eggplant emoji...
Matt: A girl asked me recently "Oh I'm struggling to know what to get tattooed, what should I get?" and she goes "If you tell me I'll get it done". So I told her the emoji, that eggplant emoji. And she's got it. She sent me a pic.
Charlie: Why is there an eggplant emoji?
Matt: You put an eggplant emoji instead of a c*ck.
Matt: Because it's funny. For LOLs Charlie...
Charlie: But who made that rule?
Matt: Well I think there is an eggplant emoji, there's not a penis emoji so it looks a little bit like a...
Charlie: Does it look like that?
Matt: Well...well, no...it insinuates...I'll send you one.
Maybe that cheeky pop punk past hasn't entirely left them after all...
Busted's new album Night Driver is out on November 25th.
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