Starsailor return with their third album, ‘On The Outside’. Both their previous two albums have now sold in excess of 1.5 million copies worldwide and on the last campaign they hit number one in the French singles chart with ‘Four To The Floor’. Starsailor never stopped working, they continuously toured, only pausing to write and record their new album, and in the process have created an impassioned statement, a record of real honesty and urgency. Much of the record was recorded live which has aided the directness and captured the passion. Galvanised like never before, the band have produced their best work to date. Featuring the fantastic comeback single ‘In The Crossfire’, the band’s new album ‘On The Outside’ was produced by Rob Schnapf (Beck, The Vines, Elliott Smith) and looks set to take the band to the new heights they deserve.
We interview singer James Walsh!
What’s it like crossing the country?
It’s been pretty good.
Do you look forward coming to the states?
Definitely yes, I think it’s exciting, it’s always an adventure. You never know what to expect, we played gigs and in bars in Salt Lake City to about twenty-five people. Then we played in another place with a thousand people, so that’s the interesting part.
Does it bring you back to earth considering how popular you are in UK?
The great thing about America in terms to the UK, we reached a level but it’s going to be hard to step up to Coldplay’s level whereas there is so much to build on in the States. There’s so much progression here.
What do you think about coming over and hear what’s being played here?
It’s a pretty good of mixture. Most of American stuff gets big in the UK before Americans catch on to what’s going on in their backyard. I’m sure some bands got signed in the UK before signing in America. So, often to get on the radio to make an impact, a lot of [bands] have to go to Europe first.
You recorded in On The Outside in L.A. right? Why L.A.?
The big reason was Rob Snout, the producer, because he was the man for the job. He’s worked with the Foo Fighters and such and we liked what he brought to the table. He’s based in L.A. and it’s always a good time to spend time in the sunshine.
Do you write songs alone or do you write with the band?
A bit of both really. The ballads I write on my own with my guitar. But the rock songs are more collectively written. The melancholy soft stuff is more of the bedroom ones.
How do you know when a song is going to be good?
You just get a feeling when you hit onto something that is really good. The key test for me is that I don’t like to write things down so much or record things, so I think if something is going to work it’s just hits me while I’m playing. Whatever sticks goes on the album.
What inspires you?
Watching bands is quite inspiring. You go on thinking I’ve got to do something better than them. I saw Jeremiah and immediately went home to write a song…it just flowed. It’s like one line popped into my head and all of the sudden I got a song.
Do you find it strange talking about lyrics?
I really don’t mind how people interpret a song as long as they get something out of them. Sometimes it’s nice that people misunderstand lyrics, as long as it’s positive. A songwriter is trying to put across an emotion in a song otherwise it’s meaningless.
When you write a song you record, do you think of what it’s about afterwards?
Yeah, that definitely happens. Like “Counterfeit Life”. Someone thought it was the Enron collapse, the end of corporate glory. It just happened to be on the news, although I didn’t sit down and write a song about that. But maybe it was subconscious.
When coming as a band is it easier now, after all this time?
In some ways it gets easier and some ways harder because the expectation gets higher. When the first album succeeds the fans have something to hold the passing album up against. It gets easier because you learn different methods and learn when it’s the best mood and time to write. So we try to implement that.
I’ve heard sometimes that the stress of expectation is unavoidable.
You have to try to put it in the back of your mind. It has to be natural. If you try to force it [then] it becomes over the top. I think more so in the studio when you’re working on the sound that’s where you can become more competitive.
Who are you impressed by?
I think Rufus Wainwright. I find his lyrics fascinating. The way he manages to avoids the cliché lyrics. It’s like poetry.
And he can sing! Some of his lyrics, even if it’s happy it’s sad.
Do you find that your style is more natural now?
I’m not sure, that’s a good question.
You never know where it comes from.
The hardest thing that Bob Dylan and Neal Young have is that it’s so easy to write songs. You listen to them and there’s nothing there but them being themselves. That’s what every song writer battles with. Its one thing to write songs, but its another to make them stand up themselves.
I remember Motley Crue putting out three great albums and then death. They started releasing garbage.
I think it’s spectacular that Bob Dylan and Neal Young have been able to avoid it.
I was wondering, what are you plans after November?
Write some more songs. We’re already in the process of writing the fourth album and hopefully come back into the States. It seems as though France and America keeps on pulling us back. If we can have our way things time we’ll have a simultaneous release. It seems the interest is picking up in America. It would be foolish to keep you guys waiting.
+ Charlie Craine