Three years since his last album, James Blunt has spent the last year locked in a studio writing and recording with the likes of Ryan Tedder and Steve Robson. Now he’s back with new album Some Kind Of Trouble and new single Stay The Night. We caught up with the man himself recently to talk music, his jetset life style and the fact that the Atlantic Records reception has James Blunt-branded tissues scattered all around. “I think I’ll grab some, just so when I’m old I can show my grandchildren just how crazy life was…”
Your new single Stay The Night is a jaunty number – but you’ve said before that you’re a specialist at miserable songs…
“Yes, that’s just the way it is – put me in a room with an acoustic guitar and I write sad songs. But put me in a studio with other people and instruments, more upbeat tracks come out – that’s what I’ve learnt. The new material is the album I’ve always wanted to write, it’s the kind of stuff I’d listen to.”
You reckon it’s a lot more optimistic in vibe – tell me about the process of making it…
“For this album, I went into the studio and played around with electric guitars, which I haven’t done for years, working with some great people. We just wrote on the spot, recorded demos and got it done within a year. My last album was very insular, but this album is about experiences and emotions that everyone can relate to – I love the innocence of it.”
You’ve said it captures the mood of the early 80s – for me that conjures up velour and Dallas. What does that time recall for you?
“Ha, I like it! The 80s for me conjures up optimism and a sense that we could achieve anything – there wasn’t so much cynicism around back then. The 80s is also about being a teenager for me, discovering my identity and this album feels like I’m doing that again. Also, if we can invent velour, what can’t we do?”
Your reputation is of a playboy – is that fair or does it make you laugh?
“I thought I had a reputation of being a delicate singer-songwriter – the two don’t seem to go hand in hand do they? (Laughs) I have all different sides to me, but the fact is I live in Ibiza, I like to live life to the full and I like to share it with other people. Plus I think you need to live shallow moments in order to write deep songs.”
You still live in Ibiza?
“Yes – Ibiza’s home, London’s my office and Easyjet is my car.”
You’ve said that you don’t like Twitter – is that right?
“Not exactly – I do it, but I wouldn’t if I wasn’t in music and didn’t find it useful to let people know when my music’s out, when I’m touring, that sort of thing. What I had for breakfast is just not terribly interesting is it?”
You rose to fame pretty quickly with You’re Beautiful – do you still enjoy singing that song?
“If I were to play you three songs now I’d play Stay The Night to show you my new direction; 1973 because it was a global No.1 and it’s great to play live; and You’re Beautiful because that’s where it all started – it’s the cornerstone of my career and a valid part of my back catalogue. I never tire of playing it, but if I did it’s not a terrible problem to have is it?”
You really like touring – you’re off again soon aren’t you?
“I’m starting next year and going off for two years – 12 men on a tour bus, oh the glamour. It’s an amazing experience though – I’ve played in every country bar India. Places like Kazhakstan and Serbia – I was bombing that as a soldier, now I’m playing gigs there. Beirut was the standout place though – such a beautiful city, so fucked up from war and such an incredible mixture of religions. And yes, all the people know that a bomb might go off at any time, so they really live life to the full.”
What’s the most played song on your MP3 player?
“Embarrassingly, my own album – I’ve been in a studio forever and at night I drive my mates mad listening to different mixes. They can never tell the difference.”
If you could be the love child of any artist alive or dead, who would you choose?
“Elton John and Jimi Hendrix – I think they’d make a lovely couple.”
James Blunt’s album Some Kind Of Trouble is out now.