Matt, Charlie and James on their upcoming 20th anniversary tour. Also baked beans, alien lobsters and Jim Carrey.
“Do people still care? Is this the right thing to do?” wonders Matt Willis, squashed into an office with the same two guys he’s been making music with since he was 16. Between 2000 and 2005 Busted were the biggest thing in British pop-punk, topping the charts four times, winning two Brit awards, and selling over 5 million records.
A split, a reunion, and another hiatus later, Busted are now meeting their 20th anniversary with what feels like the biggest wave of support they’ve felt since they started. Matt needn’t have worried.
“This is the best we’ve ever felt as a band,” he admits, now prepping for the band’s biggest arena dates yet in September 2023. “We’re in a really good place. And it feels like the right time to celebrate Busted. I think everyone can kind of feel that. The response has been f*cking amazing.”
“You feel the significance of your band a lot more when you’re doing a 20th anniversary,” adds James Bourne. “Because you hear everybody talk about their memories, and the things that they associate with the band…”
“It’s the ‘memory’ tour!” yells Charlie Simpson, leaning into the microphone. “Everything about the world and the music industry was just so different back then. It’s like looking back at a different life, you know? But it’s nice to see the influence that it had now that a lot of our fans have grown up. It’s funny, when we go on TV and radio promoting this now, so many of the people working there are telling us Busted was their first concert. It’s very cool.”
Not just marking the anniversary with a tour, Busted are also rerecording some of their biggest hits with all their friends as featured artists (McFly, Simple Plan, All Time Low…), something Charlie dubs “a double edge of coolness”.
“Also it’s been 20 years since we recorded them and we’re much better now!” laughs Matt. “We f*cking love playing those songs live. I feel like there’s something magic in the way we play them now. We know the songs better than when we first wrote them, so we really wanted to kind of bring them to life again.”
As Busted get ready to celebrate their twenties all over again, we got stuck in a lift with Matt, Charlie and James to ask the band’s big questions.
Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Charlie: I’d most like to be stuck with Jim Carrey.
James: I second that. I’ve never met Jim Carrey but I’ve always wanted to be stuck in a lift with him.
He seems like he might be a difficult guy to talk to.
Charlie: Good point. Okay, maybe I’d want to be stuck in a lift with Jim Carrey 20 years ago.
Matt: No I think he’d be better now. He’s so cool now.
James: Yeah he’s definitely way more interesting than he was.
Charlie. Okay fine. I’ll take Elon Musk instead though actually. That’d be a hell of a conversation.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
Matt: I’m struggling to think of a fun answer that’s not “my stepdad”. But I’d f*cking hate to be stuck in a lift with him. It’d be the worst thing ever.
How would you all cope if you were stuck in a lift?
James: We did get stuck in a lift once. It was on Top Of The Pops.
Charlie: Oh yeah I forgot about that. It was horrible. There was about 30 people in the lift and you couldn’t really move at all. And we were stuck there for about 40 minutes. They had to get the fire brigade out. And it was about two in the morning. It was the last lift down I think to leave.
Matt: That wasn’t how we wanted that night to end.
Do any of you have any phobias?
Charlie: I’m weirdly getting vertigo in my older age. I’m starting to struggle with heights, and I never used to.
Matt: I’ve always been a bit freaked out by baked beans. Do you remember in the 90s there was this big thing of sitting in a bath of beans for charity? I can’t think of anything worse. That just grosses me out.
Charlie: Beans are funny man. Look at beans outside the sauce and they’re just little white things.
James: That’s weird isn’t it? That the sauce makes them orange?
Charlie: It’s weird that baked beans don’t come like that. You’d think they’d be their own thing.
Matt: You think you can grow baked beans?!
Charlie: If I was a farmer I’d grow baked beans.
Matt, do you believe in ghosts after starring in 2:22?
Matt: I don’t know if I do believe in ghosts. I believe in aliens though. I think everything’s kind of pointing towards that being f*cking true. Big alien fan. But not ghosts. I’ve been to random haunted places to do all that stuff and it just feels a bit like bullsh*t to me.
James: I believe in aliens here on Earth.
Charlie: [singing] I believe I can fly…
You believe aliens might be living among us as regular people?
James: No I mean like lobsters. They look like aliens.
Charlie: That’s true. And if an octopus isn’t a f*cking alien, then what is?
Matt: I think we’re the f*cking aliens.
Matt: [laughs] No I mean all humans.
James: If anything’s not meant to be here, it’s humans.
Matt: And Busted.
Who would you all want to play you in a Busted biopic?
Charlie: I’d get Leonardo DiCaprio, because he’s my favourite actor in the world. Ray Winstone for Matt.
Matt: I’d probably end up with Danny Dyer.
James: I’d want Jim Carrey to play me.
Matt: Jim Carrey, Leonardo DiCaprio and Danny Dyer. What a movie!
Congratulations on winning The Masked Singer Charlie. Are you going to be bringing the Rhino outfit on tour?
Charlie: I’m not allowed the outfit. They cost like a bajillion dollars to make.
Matt: I can’t believe you weren’t allowed to keep the outfit. What are they gonna f*cking do with it?!
Charlie: They keep them all in storage.
Matt: Really? What, to reuse them?
James: If we ever did make a Busted movie, that’s how it would start – with Charlie in the rhino costume with a freeze frame and a voiceover, “so you’re probably wondering how I got here…”.
Charlie: It would actually be a really cool thing to do a Busted movie. Not even joking.
Did the rest of you guess that Charlie was inside the rhino?
Matt: Instantly. My mate sent me a clip of him on the TV and he was like, “That’s Charlie, right?”. Absolutely. Absolutely that’s Charlie.
Have any of you kept any of the early Busted merch?
Charlie: Matt still has his school jacket from the ‘What I Go To School For’ video.
Matt: Yeah I wore that in a photoshoot the other week. Hauled that out the f*cking wardrobe. I’ve got loads of stuff. There was this old ‘Air Hostess’ leather bag… I’ve still got that.
Charlie: No way! You still have that?!
Matt: I do. My nan died a few years ago and we found that bag when we were going through her house, the bag from ‘Air Hostess’. It was filled with all the CDs she bought.
James: That was a cool bag. Very retro now. We should make them again for the new tour.
Matt: Do it. Text the merch guy now.
Do you remember your worst rock star moments from the early days? Have you ever chucked a TV out of a hotel window?
Charlie: I’ve done exactly that.
Matt: He got arrested for it.
Charlie: It was very stupid.
Would you still go to the year 3000 if you had a time machine?
Charlie: No, I’d find out who killed Kennedy.
Matt: I’ve got this affinity with the 1950s. The rock and roll era. I’d like to go back to when Elvis came out. I’d be Marty McFly, going back to 1955.
Charlie: I’ve literally just showed my boys Back To The Future for the first time. Arlo, my eldest, absolutely loved it.
Matt: The moment I decided I wanted to be a rock star was watching Marty McFly play ‘Johnny B. Goode’.
Charlie: They loved that scene the best. That, and when the speakers blast him off his feet at the very beginning.
That must have a been a scary moment though, showing them that film for the first time. What if they didn’t like it?
Charlie: Well, I’ve shown them a few recently. I showed them The Goonies and they loved that. So far I’ve had a 100 per cent hit rate.
What’s on the cards after the anniversary tour?
James: World domination.