Minutes before his soundcheck at the UK Festival Awards, James Walsh of Starsailor found time to chat with Annabelle Loveday about writing songs with Suzanne Vega and wanting to see Take That play Glastonbury...
Virtual Festivals: You played the Isle of Wight Festival as a solo act, is this a new direction?
James Walsh: “Yeah, definitely. I’m having a break from Starsailor and I’ve become involved with a film called ‘Powder’, which is coming out next year and hopefully another film, which I’ve got a meeting about today.”
VF: So is this a new direction for you? Are you taking a break from music altogether?
JW: “I’m writing the music for these, I’m not going into acting or anything. But it is an area that interests me and it doesn’t do any harm to have a break from the band. We’ve had a good innings, as they say, and sometimes it is about knowing when to stop and let other people have a go and knowing when to come back as well.”
VF: And are you enjoying this new path?
JW: “Yeah I’m putting together a solo album as well. It’s very early days at the moment, but it is going very well. I’m did some writing with Suzanne Vega the other day.”
VF: And how was it?
JW: “It was really thrilling; she’s a bit of a legend. I think it’s a good relationship because she’s so amazing with words and, as an area, writing lyrics is not my favourite thing. I’m much better at melodies and chords and things – we’re a good match in that way – like a Bernie Taupin and an Elton John. Maybe we need a few more sessions to get up to that level but it’s a similar sort of dynamic.”
VF: With you’re energies focused and writing for films at the moment, have you got any festivals planned for next year?
JW: “Hopefully yeah. I want to just rock up and do a bit – I’ll definitely be at the Isle of Wight Festival again.”
VF: As we’re at the UK Festival Awards, I’ll ask a few more festival related questions. You were at the Isle of Wight Festival this year, how was it?
JW: “I loved it! I think I’ve been every year for the last five years and I’ve played five or six times as well. So I have a particular fondness for that festival.”
VF: Would you say it’s your favourite one?
JW: “That’s a tricky one. There are some great points to that one, but crowd-wise, T in the Park takes some beating. But as an overall experience the Isle of Wight Festival is a great one to go to – it’s got the fairground and it’s very family orientated. But for that buzz stepping on stage it’s got to be T in the Park.”
VF: Over the last year, what festival acts that you’ve seen stick in your mind?
JW: “[Bruce] Springsteen last year at Hyde Park. He showed a lot of the young ‘uns how it is done.”
VF: What is most memorable moment at a festival?
JW: “Probably Blur around the ‘Blur’ album in 1997. I remember that was an amazing gig when Graham was still in the band at one of the V [Festivals], when they still had one in Leeds – that’s possibly my favourite festival highlight. As was watching David Bowie at Glastonbury – they’re all coming back now. We played below [Paul] McCartney at Glastonbury as well. So I’ll say watching Blur as a punter and playing below McCartney at Glastonbury as a band.”
VF: Sticking with Glastonbury, it’s their 40th anniversary in 2010, who would be the three headliners you’d like to see play?
JW: “Fleetwood Mac, Springsteen – we’ll have Bruce back and someone quirky. It might sound mad but I’ll say Take That.”
VF: Would you have Robbie Williams playing with them?
JW: “It would be interesting to see Robbie and a few of his songs as well, to be re-worked to fit the whole band. The Robbie and Take That reunion package would be a big draw.”