The road to music wasn’t exactly straight forward for talented singer-songwriter James Blunt. Before he became a rising star supporting the likes of Elton John and Katie Melua, James led a more ‘respectable’ life as an Army Capitan stationed in Kosovo and a protector of The Queen. But even though he wasn’t encouraged to enjoy music in his younger days it was always in his soul. While in the army he would write songs, a form of expression that helped him make sense of the senseless world around him. Shortly after leaving the army he got himself a manager, secured a record deal with Linda Perry and found himself in the Hollywood Hills recording his debut album Back to Bedlam with producer Tom Rothrock. How is that for a career change? The album is a beautiful culmination of all these experiences mashed together – his songs are both uplifting and powerfully tragic all with a personal touch and heartbreaking melodies. I reckon 2005 is going to be a great year for James Blunt, have a listen to his album and you’ll understand why.
FF: Your debut album Back to Bedlam shares a lot of your personal experiences – was it hard for you to record?James: Um, I guess there was self induced pressure because I had been dreaming about this since I was 14 years old and you want to get it right, not for anybody else but I had these thoughts, ideas and later on the songs and it would have been an awful shame to have this opportunity and not make the right album. So yeah hard in the sense that I wanted to get it right – hard in the personal things? No that’s what songs are all about for me, it’s the only form of expression I really have.
FF: You recorded the album in LA what was that like?James: It was amazing. I lived in Beverly Hills 90210, I drove down Mullholland Drive everyday and went to Tom Rothrocks studio which is under the Hollywood Sign… it was great fun, I lived the life out there.
FF: Any plans to go back?James: Yeah I’m off to Texas next week to do the South by Southwest music festival, which was where I first met Linda Perry and originally got my record deal.
FF: Is it true you recorded the track Goodbye my Lover in Carrie Fishers (Star Wars) bathroom?James: Yeah, she had a piano in there, they do that kinda thing in Hollywood.
FF: You have been compared to the likes of Damian Rice, Beck and a young Elton John what do you think of these comparisons?James: Those are all huge compliments really aren’t they; I think they may be a bit over generous with those associations….. Its weird, I guess any singer-songwriter gets put into the next singer-songwriter bracket but I guess those sort of comparisons are necessary so people know what the hell the album is going to sound like before buying it. But yeah they are great compliments.
FF: Your song So Long Jimmy reminds me of a Doors track, is this an ode to Jim Morrison?James: Um yeah it’s really a tribute to him [Jim Morrison] and Jimmy Hendrix. I wrote it with my friend Jimmy Hogarth and I get called Jimmy occasionally. It was the last song I wrote before heading off to LA so it was like saying goodbye to Jimmy my song-writing partner, you can obviously hear the nod at the end to Riders on the Storm by the Doors. I was enjoying making all those associations.
FF: What is your favourite track on the album?James: I think Goodbye My Lover is the most personal on there, it really reminds me of the thoughts that were in my mind at the time so I am really happy about that song but also really sad about it too.
FF: You wrote the song No Bravery while stationed in Kosovo – how does it feel to sing this track now you are totally removed from you old life?James: It does always bring back vivid memories from those times. The song is very descriptive of the sights, sounds and smells that are out there so yeah when I am singing it I definitely find myself in that place again.
FF: Is that hard for you to be back there?James: No not really it’s a frame of mind you get used to very quickly out there, so no it’s not hard but not really very pleasant either.
FF: Do you think your former career as an Army Captain has made you more resilient in the music business.James: I am pretty independent and maybe you have to be as a solo artist….you are out on your own so its put me in pretty good stead for that, also I have performed in front of soldiers who have given me all sorts of abuse so I can face any crowd now, its much easier in comparison.
FF: You are still listed in the army, how does it feel knowing you could still get called up at any time?James: In reality I don’t think the army would dream of calling me back up, looking at me now I’m far to scruffy, but if I get a call out I would be very willing to go – unless I’ve got a big gig that night.
FF: Your tour kicks off in April are you looking forward to it?James: Yeah its great fun, for me live music is what it’s all about
FF: What can people who might not have seen you play live before expect from the tour?James: Well I am touring with my band we make up a five piece and there are some really lively songs in there but some miserable songs too we’ll also be road testing a few new songs.
The last tour was great fun, the audience were really enthused by everything and for me it’s what I’m really enjoying at the moment and the audience seem to turn up and sing all the words so it’s really exciting.
FF: Yeah I have noticed people seem to be genuinely touched by your music.James: For me it’s doing all it possibly could do. Some people can be so isolated and if you can communicate or connect with anyone through music it can be really magical.
FF: What do your friends and family think of your music?James: My dad was really nervous when I said I was going to leave my ‘proper’ job and get into music but now they have heard it on the radio, got my album and seen me supporting people like Elton John they are my number one fans – I think my mother is actually stalking me.
FF: What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?James: Doing lots of live shows, the tour, possibly some festivals, it’s all about the live shows for me at the moment that makes it worth while. I am living this wild lifestyle and travelling a hell of a lot but sometimes you don’t get time to stop and look around you so the live shows are where we get to stop, take a breath and enjoy it all.
FF: Do you have a message for your fans at FemaleFirst.co.uk?James: Thank you for all your support and if you haven’t already got it go out and get the album.
James Blunts album Back to Bedlam and new single Wiseman is out now.