“It’s just fun, energetic, good quality pop music,” explains Matt, 20. “We’re not trying to heal the world with this music. We’re just trying to have a good time.” Their rockin’ sound is created as punk meets pop with upbeat tempos and lyrics full of humor and levity combined with distinctive tunes and an edgy style. The music is catchy and engaging, with an infectious nature that leaves listeners wanting more. “We’re kind of rebelling against manufactured music,” notes Charlie, 18. Each one of these performers is a triple threat - each can sing, write and play guitar (among other instruments), but they all want to make one thing clear - they’re quite different from the other pop groups out there. “We really do write and we really do play!” states James, 20. “The band’s sound comes from all of our different musical backgrounds combining into one. We may lean towards the popular side, but we’re not a boy band.”
By blending James’ passion for pop, Matt’s preference for punk and Charlie’s alternative music talent, they’re able to write music with a sound that is certainly one-of-a-kind. “When we write, we sit down as a group and write and don’t get hung up on who wrote what,” says James. “We all have the same ambitions and we all want to go long term.” Matt adds, “Three heads are better than one and with the three of us, it’s perfect.” Their writing is an equal partnership and they always make the time to create new music and lyrics, even while on the road. “We’ll do a gig, go back to the hotel and just write,” explains Charlie. “Some nights we just stay up all night writing and see the day break in the morning.” The end result is a perfect blend of humor, high energy and creativity that is most certainly bringing an edge to the world of pop music.
“We have a reputation in England of being the rebellious kids of pop," admits James. “But I actually hate that title. We’re just out to have a great time and have a laugh.” And that’s crystal clear when you watch their wild concerts - no choreographed dancing, no costume changes, just three fellas who explode with personality and perform their edgy pop tunes with a rock ‘n’ roll attitude. “We just do what we want on stage,” explains Charlie. “Fans can expect a lot of energy at our shows. We’re all over the place! It’s cool because we use any part of the stage we want and climb onto things. It’s wicked!” Matt adds, “I think of it as my personal job to make sure every single person there has a good time because I feel a person has to be connected to the band to have a good gig.”
Busted may have only hit the scene in 2002, but their story begins a little further back. About five years ago, Matt Willis and his musical talent earned him a management team, but he was really searching to form a band. At his manager’s suggestion, he met up with another talented bloke named James Bourne, but coincidentally, they already knew each other, having met a few times at local gigs. Both the products of failed local bands (Matt from “Sabotage” and James from “Sic Puppy”), they had a similar goal and instant chemistry and over the next few years, they were writing songs together whenever they could. “We started writing some really good stuff and we really connected,” explains James. “That’s when we decided to start a band.”
Wanting to bring a third member on board, they put a small ad in NME (New Musical Express) in October, 2001 announcing an audition in London, hoping a few kids might show up who had a bit of talent. “About 60 people showed up and we were really surprised,” laughs Matt. Among them was guitar-playing Charlie Simpson who blew them away with his audition and charming personality. Charlie recalls, “The ad said ‘Two singer/songwriters seek a third singer/songwriter’ and I thought it was cool because I’ve loved music ever since I was six and I always liked playing and writing.” James adds, “He was the best singer, the best guitar player and basically, he fit the bill perfectly.” And so Charlie joined the band and their journey began.
Their first decision - a name for the newly formed trio. With a list to run by Charlie, Matt and James tossed out several names, among which was Busted. “It was the best of a bad bunch,” laughs Charlie. “But the name kind of suits the attitude of the music. It’s about having a laugh.” Matt continues, “So we called ourselves Busted and people started knowing us as that and it sort of stuck. We thought it was cool.” With a name secured, these three guys immediately went to work, writing new tunes and recording a demo in London’s Brick Lane, a shabby studio with a leaky roof. “There were two curtains instead of a vocal booth and it was raining out, so as James was recording, water was dripping onto his face,” laughs Matt.
Despite the circumstances, they produced sensational music that started catching people’s attention, namely label executives. In December 2001, they found themselves in front of famed music producer Simon Cowell at BMG, who told them to come back in January after they’d finished up their demo. They did, but when he wanted to sign them, Busted had to turn him down because as luck would have it, several other labels in town wanted to sign them as well, including Universal Records. Exec Paul Adam gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse, so they took it. The deal was complete by March 2002 and in September of that year, Busted released their first single, “What I Go to School For,” which earned rave reviews from the critics and debuted at number 3 on the charts.
Two weeks later, their self-titled CD was released and the group with a pop-punk sound and rocker personality was on its way to the top. The record debuted in the Top 40 and over time, with the release of their second single in January 2003, “Year 3000,” the CD worked its way into the Top 10 and has now gone triple platinum, consistently remaining in the Top 20. Busted has since had a successful tour in the UK, chart topping hits with “You Said No (Crash & Burn)” and “Sleeping with the Lights On” and have written a book (Busted: The Official Book) which was published in July 2003. Their sophomore CD, A Gift for Everyone, debuted at #2 on the charts in October 2003 and has joined their first CD as a permanent fixture in the Top 10 of the UK charts.
Busted has now become the second highest selling recording artist in the UK and most recently won Best Pop Act and Best Breakthrough Act at the 2004 Brit Awards. They also hold a Guinness record as the only UK group ever to have their first singles debut at number 3, 2 and 1. Currently on a six-month European tour, Busted also has major plans to invade the American music scene.
These British babes are headed across the Atlantic Ocean with high hopes and determination. “Our goal is just to be successful here,” explains Matt. “America is such a big challenge and 99% of English acts fail here. We want to be that 1% who makes it.” James agrees, “We’re really hungry to do well here and we’re really looking forward to it.” So watch out because when Busted arrives, pop music will never be the same again. This trio is vivacious, clever and full of energy with the passion and talent to go far in the music world and most certainly, this is just the beginning.
“We’re amazed by everything that’s happened so far,” says Matt. “Our families are proud that we’ve actually achieved something at such a young age. But there’s definitely more to come!”