Fightstar Interview with Charlie Simpson – October 3rd 2007

Circa October 2007 – Fazer Magazine

On their new CD One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours, Fightstar have raised the bar for both themselves as a band, and for their listeners. Jam-packed with stellar riffs, chunky bass, and some fine song writing, the band are poised for a big year. One Day Son can be purchesed in North America on both iTunes and eMusic, but there is no CD release here yet. HMV in the UK will ship it out to you for about $25. It’s well worth it for the bonus DVD and extra-fine CD liner notes.

Charlie Simpson took the time to field a few questions on the third night of their tour for One Day Son, just a few hours before taking the stage in Dundee, Scotland on October 3rd.

Mike: Thanks for doing this interview. I just today got your new CD in the mail from the UK. I’d been playing a download, and wanted the real deal for my collection.
Charlie: Oh, sweet man. What did you think?

I think it’s the best you guys have done – and I’m a fan. I love your other two releases. One Day Son is really an excellent recording.
Thanks very much. We’re really proud of it.

I really like the artwork in the booklet too. It’s very high end. It’s got the nice little vellum overlays on the inside. Very well done.
Yeah, you know, it’s done by a guy who’s only 22 years old. It’s by a guy named Dan Conway. We’re all really pleased with the way it turned out.

So tonight you’re playing Dundee?
Yes. In Scotland.

Did you sell out the show?
I think we did man.

How big of a show is it? What’s the capacity of Fat Sam’s (the venue they are playing)
Well, let me see… I think about 650. Yeah, that’s about right. It’s a cool little venue. This is only a club show.

It would be awesome to just get to see you play Charlie. Especially in an intimate venue like Fat Sam’s sounds like it is.
Yeah, for sure… we’re excited to play tonight.

Earlier this year, you guys did about ten shows with Funeral For a Friend in The US. I would have loved to have seen the New York show… but it was too far away for me to get too…
We played a few with Madina Lake as well… that was a really fun tour man. It was pretty grueling but it was awesome to play to some American fans.

So you are about to play your third official gig on the tour for the New CD. How have the gigs been going so far? Are the fans digging the new material?
Well, it was officially released here last week, but the CD was leaked over a month ago. So, there seems to be some familiarity with the material, yeah? (laughter). It’s certainly easier for us to play material that fans are familiar with, rather than a whole bunch of new tracks that the kids haven’t heard yet, y’know?

That’s fair. Were you able to find some cool bands to tour with?
Were on tour with The Sleeping, Emanuel and then a British band called You Me At 6. So it’s two American bands and one UK band. They’re all great man. It’s been really great playing with them and partying with them. It’s cool.

What made you guys decide to come over to the pond and record One Day Son in North America? Um, well, we really wanted to use Matt Wallace as a producer. And he’s based in L.A. and he’s got a family there and stuff. So he doesn’t really work away from home. So, we kind of had to go to him if we wanted to use him. And we really did want him to produce the new material. So we decided to go over there and we rented an apartment in L.A. and made it happen. It was cool man. We really enjoyed the experience.

So how was he to work with?
He was really awesome. He really knows his stuff. He really wanted to involved with the structure of the songs and stuff, you know? We wrote the album, and then went out there (to L.A.) and when we got there, we spent a week together ripping the album apart and reworking it together. He’s really up for trying stuff. It didn’t matter how crazy it was, he really wanted to try it. And I think that when you get someone with that mentality, they always push you to do better things. He really challenged us as musicians.

Do you have an example of something you could easily explain that Wallace might have suggested and added to a song’s end result Charlie?
Yeah, for sure – he’d suggest some of the simplest little things. For instance, on ‘Floods’, the kind of bridge section before the chorus kicks in never used to be there. He listened to the demo and it used to just go from the verse to the chorus and he said he thought we needed to have something there like a break in pace. And so we wrote that little jam interlude that turns into the bridge – and it made the song sound so much broader. It’s little things like that he really brings to the table. He’d say “try this there or move this piece here”. And he’s be right. To us, it just made such a difference to the final product.

One Day Son is a bit of a departure for Fightstar. It’s a very ambitious disc with material that I dare say is flirting with radio play. Would you agree?
Yeah, definitely. I think it was intentional enough. We kind of wanted to re-think ourselves. And I think that there’s more diversity on this record than the last one. We wanted to make the heavier tracks like Deathcar and Tannhäuser Gate, but we wanted to play around with some electronic ideas as well. It was very fun working on the album, and having it spanning such a wide and sonic sound from song to song.

Who contributes the female vocals to the last track on the disc ‘Unfamiliar Ceilings’?
It’s a girl called Rachel Haden, she’s in a band called the Rentals. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of them or not. And she sang on Jimmy Eat World’s record on the tracks ‘My Sundown’ and ‘Hear You Me’. And also… she sang on a Weezer track – I think it’s called ‘I Just Threw Out The Love of My Dreams’ which is on a kind-of Special Edition Weezer CD. She’s awesome man. I heard her voice on the Jimmy Eat World record, and I thought it would be so sweet if she could sing on our record. Matt (our Engineer) knew her sister or something, and he just rung her up. We sent her over the track and she said she loved it, and she came over to the studio and she just sang it. It took like an hour. She nailed it so easily. It was awesome.

Another moment I really like on the new CD is the piano intro to ‘Floods’. It’s a lovely little intro to a song which is really quite heavy.
Neat man. Thanks.

Are you touring with a piano on stage then? Will you play that track live?
Absolutely. We’ll be playing that song tonight. I will be playing the guitar, but will switch to the keyboards to do the piano bits. On Grand Unification there’s a song called Grand Unification pt 2 that is a heavily dominated piano song as well. We play them both live.

If I had to pick a track on the disc I like the most, I’d have to say it’s Deathcar. I really seem to go back it and replay it the most when I’m playing the new recording.
That’s my favourite track too.

Who does the intro vocals Is that you or Alex?
That’s me.

So that little inhale before the song kicks in…
Have you got the dvd that comes with the UK cd?

I just got it in the mail an hour ago Charlie. I haven’t watched it yet.
If you watch it, it actually shows me doing that whole thing in the sink. I put my whole head under water. Basically I just put my submerged my head, and they put some microphones around me and I held my breath for as long as I could and then just came up and breathed in. And they recorded it.

I love it. It’s a cool little que-in before the rock kicks in. It really sets up the power of the song. 
Yeah. It sets the mood.

When you guys are writing your material, you and Alex, how would you start a song like Death Car? Is it just a riff that you add vocals to? Or do you tend to write your materials lyrics first?
Well, basically, me and Al will come up with stuff on acoustics. I’ll try something on an acoustic and then send it over to Al and he’ll kind of work it in. A lot of it is actually done over email. Actually this album in particular, I’d just start on an idea – and then send it along to the guys, and they’d add their thoughts and parts to it, and then send it back. We kind of built the album that way. We all had our own space and could build the album in our own time. We could just think up our own parts. And then we took it into the studio and fleshed it all out from there. It was a cool way of doing it, really.

How do you and Al pick which parts of which songs you are going to sing when you are putting them all together?
It’s pretty natural like. It’s… we never really think about it to much. It really just seems to happen on it’s own. Although, someone might come up with a part while we are writing that the other winds up singing.

I’d like to mention some of your cover songs Charlie. You’ve covered ‘My Own Summer Shove It’, ‘Leper Messiah’ and ‘Breaking The Law’, and done them well. Are there any other songs you guys would like to put your signature on down the road?
Oh wow… I dunno. We’ve been thinking about covering ‘Propaganda’ by Sepultura live. It’s just… the drop downs in that song are sooo good, y’know? We’re big Sepultura fans, and I think that
‘Propoganda’ would be an awesome cover to try and do.

Do you have any plans to come back over to tour in North America again?
Yes. Definitely. We’re going to get on it for next year. We’re going to tour the UK for the rest of the year. Then we’ll head over to Europe in early ’08. And then we’re trying to set up coming back to North America and doing some more touring there. I’m excited for kids to hear our new songs. I that our listeners who got into grand unification are really going to embrace this new record. And I’m really looking forward to coming over to America with the new album and getting a chance to play some of the new track live there.

Will One Day Son get a proper release in North America then?
Fuckin’ A man. We’re sorting out all the logistics of that now. It should be all sussed out in the next few months, and then we can really look to booking some firm dates and coming over to tour.

Thanks Charlie. I hope to see you play here in ’08.

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