With their first new album in eight years with thought it was about time we had a chat with Starsailor main man James Walsh to find out what they’ve been up to. And to see if he thinks Love Is Here is underrated.
Hey James, how the devil are you?
I’m good thanks. Been busy the last few weeks promoting the album and getting ready for the tour.
What have you been up to today?
I’ve been in central buying swimming shorts and espadrilles for a short break in Portugal and recording a takeover radio show.
Actually, never mind today, it’s been eight years since the last Starsailor album, what have you all been up to?
I’ve been writing for other people and on TV and movie projects, Stel has been playing bass with Spiritualised & Ben & Barry have been teaching their respective instruments (drums and keys) at various music schools around the Northwest.
How would you describe All This Life in two sentences?
All This Life is a darkly lyrical but euphoric musical juxtaposition. It’s full of emotion and musicality.
What was your process for writing and selecting tunes for the record?
I wrote a few in my flat in southwest London like ‘Caught In The Middle’ and Stel came round and we kicked them into shape. Some of the others came together in the studio like ‘Blood’ and ‘FIA’. We didn’t write a huge amount because we knew the songs that came out in the initial burst were quality. Generally a song doesn’t get finished unless it’s going somewhere. We’re not a band that bashes out 60 ideas and whittles down to 10. We maybe did 14 and cut off just a couple of them. I record a lot of little melodic ideas while I’m out and about and will present the best ones to the band.
What’s the song on the album that best represents the band in 2017?
I think ‘Blood’. It’s the perfect combination of the original sound and the more expansive lush sound of this album. I love ‘Caught In The Middle’ too but it’s more of a fun detour. We were always going to come back from that rather than carry on down that road.
It’s been 16 years since Love Is Here, with the spate of ”deluxe editions” and re-evaluation of other albums, do you think it’s underrated?
I wouldn’t say so. Obviously it would be nice to get the critical acclaim but as far as the fan base and even random people I meet its clearly still a record that means a lot to people. Even Hockey Olympian Sam Quek pulled out her copy when she interviewed us recently!
What’s the biggest difference between the band in 2001 and now?
We’re older, greyer but the fire and the passion are still there. We can probably take the knocks better than before.
You can’t beat ‘Good Souls’ in my opinion, but what’s your favourite Starsailor song?
‘Silence Is Easy’. Two chords and gets everyone singing even if they’re drunk. That was one of my main ambitions in life to write something like that.
You worked with Phil Spector before his current spell in prison, what was that like?
For a short while inspiring. ‘Silence Is Easy’ and ‘White Dove’ came out of the initial session but then his mental health started to deteriorate again and obviously later what happened to that poor girl was an awful tragedy.
So 2017 for you so far, tell us about it?
It’s been good. The reaction to the album has been great. I’ve been busy on other musical projects too.
What’s coming up for the rest of the year?
Touring and hopefully more writing projects either for the band or outside. It’s the one thing I miss being on the touring circuit. The chance to be creative. We need a studio on the bus like the big American bands!
You’re out touring the album, what can people expect from your shows?
Some old songs and some songs from the new album played with passion and energy. No pyrotechnics or big stunts.
What’s more fun at a show, playing the classics or the new stuff?
New stuff. It’s great to see people singing the words where as we’ve seen people getting into the older stuff a few times down the years.
If you could only listen to one song this week, what would it be?
‘Wichita Lineman’. Glen [Campbell] passed away recently sadly and this song is perfection.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
How do you take your coffee?(or alcohol)
Finally, how do you take your coffee? (Or alcohol?)
Well done! Milk no sugar (not too much milk but more than a dribble). Ice cold wine.
To find out more about the band or see their tour dates visit their website. You can also follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook. All This Life is available now from some shops, online, and all streaming services.