>> Biographies
>> Band | Charlie | Matt | James | Drummers

Click to read my version of the biography

Biography taken from busted.com - June 2003:

With a Number One single, a double platinum album and a sold-out UK tour under their belts, Busted have established themselves as one of the most important chart acts in the UK. And if this all seems to have happened quickly, it has: while it might seem difficult to imagine the charts without them Busted’s debut single was released in September 2002. Thing is, the story goes back a little further than last summer..

Mattie Jay, 20 grew up in Surrey on the border of East Molesey and West Molesey, just where the West bit goes posh, and the East bit goes working class. His early years were a catalogue of broken bones and tree-climbing – not totally unrelated – and by his early teens his older brother’s record collection was informing his own musical tastes. At the age of 13 he managed to win himself, much to his neighbours’ disgruntlement, a full-size drum kit, and formed a Green Day covers band with a couple of mates. One night, while on holiday with his parents Mattie was coerced into a karaoke contest: one rendition of ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ later he’d been spotted by someone whose eye for a budding popstar eventually led Mattie to meet a music management team. They suggested he get together with a guy called James Bourne.

As it happened, James and Matt already knew each other. They’d met a few times at auditions and gigs, and writing sessions soon took shape at James’ parents house in Southend. James had been obsessed with music since he first laid eyes on Michael Jackson, and still maintains that seeing the King Of Pop on his ‘Dangerous’ tour was one of the most important moments of his life. When he was 17, James had chucked in a music technology course at a local college in order to actually pursue a career as a musician, having laid the groundwork in his teenage band Sic (sic) Puppy, whom he formed with friends at the age of twelve. James brought a smart, pop sensibility to Matt’s punky background, drawing on his love of Swedish uber-producer Max Martin as a cue for some of the poppier moments in the Busted catalogue. But you can’t have a band with two members, so Mattie and James placed an ad for a third member in the NME.

Flicking through the NME live ads one afternoon was a 16-year-old Ipswich boy by the name of Charlie Simpson. When he passed the audition – Mattie and James still say there was no competition - Charlie found Busted to be a slight change of direction. Through his early-to-mid teens he’d been more at home behind a set of drums, in bands going under names like FUBAR (which stood, he cringes, for ‘Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition’). But if it’s good for the Grohl it’s good for the Simpson, and before long Charlie’s role as one of the trio’s three frontmen was cast in stone. Where James brings the pop to the Busted table, Charlie throws in his encyclopedic and sometimes terrifying knowledge of the alternative world, from global acts like The Deftones and Jimmy Eat World to the output of tiny indie labels like Fierce Panda and Chemikal Underground. Charlie recently bought his first Porsche, and has yet to receive a parking fine.

The band demo’d and recorded dozens of tracks in London’s Brick Lane, in a dodgy studio with a leaky roof. James, Charlie and Matt were determined to get the sound right – they’d written these songs themselves, and wanted to make sure the songs which had been in their heads all these years made a good transition to CD. They needn’t have worried: the punk pop sound of the Brick Lane sessions perfectly complemented the band’s music and after signing to Universal Island at the start of 2002 chose ‘What I Go To School For’ – an infectious, Blink-182 style homage to extra-curricular rumpo and one of the songs they’d performed acoustically when touring record labels in search of a deal – as a first single. The single drew in rave reviews everywhere from Smash Hits (“Crashing guitars, head-bopping beat and a catchy chorus make this a sure-fire winner”) to NME (“Big-balled, big-chorused, big-eyebrowed… Ace.”), and debuted at Number 3 on September 23, 2002. Wondering what the real Miss Mackenzie made of the whole thing? She’s very flattered, she says, but she doesn’t like to talk about it. So now you know.

Released two weeks later, Busted’s debut album established the band as that rare breed: a pop act not afraid to rock out, and a rock band not afraid to embrace the finer points of pop. Once again, the reviews spoke for themselves. The Times were impressed by its “catchy punk-pop tunes with a sense of humour”, Q went for the “inspired one-liners and clever gimmicks”, and Smash Hits concluded that the boys were “set to kick some boyband butt [with this] rock-inspired masterpiece.” But it didn’t go double platinum overnight, and its beginnings were rather modest. ‘Busted’ debuted in the Top 40, but swiftly disappeared from view and spent a few weeks meandering around outside the Top 100. Gradually, however, the album began to thrive on good word of mouth and by the time second single, ‘Year 3000’, was announced the album was back in the charts, eventually nesting in the Top 10 for months on end. To date the album has sold over 600,000 copies in the UK alone.

‘Year 3000’ came next – released in January with a syper-stylized, Roger Rabbit-esque video propelling us forward into the next millennium with some nifty live footage from a special shoot at London’s Garage. The track stormed the Top 5 in January 2003, going one better than ‘What I Go To School For’ by romping in at Number 2, and bringing the world of mathematics to its knees. “When we wrote it,” James explains, “we knew that ‘great great great granddaughter’ didn’t actually work over the period of 1000 years. We did rather hope people would get the gist though – it’s not literal! Like 'Walking On Sunshine' isn't actually about walking on the Sun, because you’d die.”

In May, to tie in with their third single ‘You Said No (Crash & Burn)’, the band set off on their first UK tour. Being a Busted tour it was always going to be a bit different, but the audiences (teenage, but with a respectable showing of adults attending of their own accord) found a pop show like nothing they’d ever seen. Partly because it came with none of the costume changes, backing dancers, special effects and seen-it-beforeness of your average pop spectacle. But mainly because it wasn’t really a pop show at all: just the boys and their band, and a string of tunes taking on a whole new personality in the live arena. Matt’s trousers defied gravity, James moonwalked and, on the penultimate night, Charlie smashed his guitar. During the course of the tour ‘You Said No’ gave Busted their first Number One – making them the first act in UK chart history to have their first three singles hit Number 3, then 2, then 1.

Later in the summer, the fourth and final track to be lifted from ‘Busted’ will be ‘Sleeping With The Lights On’. The end of the ‘Busted’ story takes us back to the beginning of the Busted story: it’s the first song James and Mattie ever wrote together, round at James’ house in Southend. “Girl’s left you,” James summarises. “Classic excuse for writing a song.” Mattie adds that sleeping with the lights on is “useful if you come in pissed. Put the lights on, keep one hand touching the floor, and it stops the room spinning.”

In July Busted publish their first book (it’s a little like this, but rather a lot longer and in the band’s own words), and tickets for the 2004 arena tour are already shifting like cakes which are hotter than Mattie’s pants. The lads are keeping busy, but then they’re hardly the types to rest on their laurels. While their contemporaries might see the four singles mark as an excuse to whack a couple of b-sides on the end of the album and repackage it as a so-called ‘special edition’, Busted have already begun work on their second album. Once again, the album will be written by the band themselves. A lot of work was done during the course of their tour, and the successor to ‘Busted’ is already marking a clear progression in the lads’ songwriting capabilities without jettisoning any of the cheek, style, humour or spunk that made them so unique. As you read this the boys are block-booking studio time here, there and everywhere, and James is even talking about the second album being released as early as November.

In less than a year, Busted have smashed the mould of pop. They are one of the defining new acts of the past five years; treating pop audiences with the respect they deserve, selling their music without selling out their musical beliefs. Busted are the alternative. Now wait until you hear the second album…

Biography taken from busted.com - June 2002:

If you live in the semi-posh London suburb of Finchley, the chances are you'll already be aware of Busted. They're the three lads who moved in down the road in March - the ones responsible for the all-hours parties, the distant thump of top-volume music, and the gentle scent of unwashed dishes drifting through the spring air. If you're new to Charlie, Mattie and James, hold onto your hat: Busted are finally ready to do to the charts what they've already done to North London, armed only with their own brand of infectious, boysterous, balls-out guitar driven pop, with the axe-flailing cheek of Blink 182, the pop nous of Max Martin, and the best line in haircuts since Kelis last went for dinner with Lily Savage. (Which, in case you're wondering, was last Friday. Kelis had pie and mash.) Time for some introductions.

First up, James Bourne, an 18-year-old Virgo from Southend-On-Sea with two brothers and one sister. He's delicately, carefully spoken - but don't let that fool you, this boy can party with the best of them. He's as obsessed with *NSYNC as he is with Blink 182, while the alarmingly athletic chap's spare time is spent surfing, playing tennis, and shooting pool. His dream is to sit down and write a song with Michael Jackson.

Then there's Ipswich boy Charlie Simpson, the youngest of three brothers, with the sort of modellish good looks you'd usually expect to find staring out from a billboard fronting a well-packed pair of Calvins. With tastes centering on the Deftones and Jimmy Eat World, Charlie's still only 16 (note to publicans in the Suffolk area: you've been had), and is Busted's resident posh crumpet. He dimly recalls being busted for smoking. The punishment: detention.

If you're after a bit of rough, Mattie Jay's every inch yer man. The 18-year-old Kingston boy's already had a garage single out ('Sunshine Lover', a collaboration with Miles Slater, on Genius Cru's label), and has got the word geezer running through him like some extravagantly coiffured stick of rock. The sort of outspoken guy pop needs more of - he's like The Streets meets Jamie Oliver meets a little Johnny Rotten. All mouth, plenty of trouser. Obviously he's lost count of the things for which he's been busted, but you can be sure of one thing - for every bust there's a whole catalogue of roguish misdemenours that will forever go undetected. A lifelong obsession with West Ham has equipped Mattie with the ability to look failure in the face; hardly something he'll be calling on in Busted.

The how-did-you-meets are fairly simple: Mattie met James at a gig. The two hit it off straight away and decided to form their own band. They needed another member and placed an ad in the music press. Enter Charlie, accepted into the fold at the end of October last year. They gelled, they bonded, they wrote, they recorded... and by March 2002 they were signed to Universal. No faffing around in 'development' for this lot: Busted came ready-formed. What you see now is what Busted are - three lads with a xxx and an ear for a killer tune. And for Matt, it fits in nicely with his haircut: "Now I can look like a dick," he guffaws, "and go 'Aha! Well it's my JOB to look like a dick!"

And there's no mistaking - if you want tunes, Busted have 'em by the lorryload. Minimalist noise fiends take note: ignore this lot at your own peril, turn away and you'll end up steamrollered by the sopisticated teen musings of these boys' aching loins. Debut single 'What I Go To School For', whose crashing guitars and high-octane pop choruses could teach Wheatus a thing or two, is a classic example. It isn't about GCSEs, an all-round grounding in society, or after-hours macrame classes. It's about teachers... Or one teacher in particular. Miss Mackenzie. "I fight my way to front of class, to get the best view of her ass / I drop a pencil on the floor, she bends down and shows me more". You get the idea. The boys are naturally reticent about naming their own individual Miss Mackenzies - they insist she's an amalgam of every single, female teacher ever encountered - though of course Mattie blows the game completely by announcing "it was Michelle! We was on first name terms and everything! She was lovely..."

'What I Go To School For' fits right in with the Busted quality guarantee: if it's no cop, it's nowhere in sight. "Sometimes you hear a song back a few months after you've written it and you just think, 'What the hell was I doing?'" laughs James. "On loads of my earlier stuff my voice hasn't even broken! You think 'What was going through my mind?'." Not that there's much chance of hindsight-abetted embarrassment affecting any of the Busted catalogue: these are perfect snapshots of life, the sound of young, bright, guitar-friendly Britain in 2002. Here's that CD you're after for that time capsule.

The rest of the band's material is just as strong. There's 'Year 3000', which sees Busted fast-forward 998 years ("...and your great great great granddaughter's pretty fine..."), and 'All The Way' which, as Charlie explains, "is about girls that lead you on". 'Losing You' (a ballad - about losing someone, hence the name) tugs on the heart strings, while 'Psycho Girl' ... Well, that's fairly self-explanatory. A catalogue of teenage trauma and adolescent angst, as if 'Hollyoaks', 'Dawson's Creek' and 'Dirty Dancing' had been put through a mincer and fed out as three-and-a-half minute pop burgers, ripe, plump and oozing with wit, style and charm. There's even a love song written for Britney Spears!

The band reckon that by the time the Busted story is committed to celluloid, the ideal actors will be Jason Biggs (James), James Dean (Charlie), and Billy out of EastEnders (Matt). Pretty spot on, all told. And more than a little appropriate - combine the Stateside, fratboy adolescence of Biggs, the nonchalant cool of James Dean and the cheeky wideboy geezerings of Billy Mitchell, and that's Busted in a can. Likewise, Matt's idea of the perfect night out is at his local (a pub called the Paddock, which has actually closed down since he left for Finchley, probably due to the loss of business), Charlie fancies a gig ("probably Jimmy Eat World"), and James would be the perfect gent: "Well, it's your night too. Where do you want to go?"

The band's ambitions are simple: to take their music to the world, maintain their cheeky view of pop, and to have fun. One listen to 'What I Go To School For' is hearty proof that they're setting off on the right foot. Anything else to tell the world? "Yeah," Mattie pipes up. His bandmates fall silent, waiting for him to conclude the Busted manifesto with a blaze of iconic soundbite architecture. Mattie pauses. "I also like Meg Ryan."

Boys will be boys. And with Busted, you wouldn't want it any other way. Charts beware: you're about to be busted.

Taken from busted.com - June 2002

Info added by myself:

Busted used to be called Buster, and they had 4 members - Matt, James, Ki and Owen. Ki and Owen left, so the remaining members looked for another member (Charlie) in the NME.