Charlie Simpson: My solo debt to dad, the future of Fightstar, and why Busted will NEVER get back together

HE may be going solo for the first time but music star Charlie Simpson has told how his father has played a big part in the latest stage of his career.

The singer-songwriter is preparing to release his debut solo album, Young Pilgrim, in August, following the glowing reviews of his first single, Down Down Down.

It’s now 10 years since Charlie, from Woodbridge, found fame as a member of the pop group Busted before quitting at the height of their chart-topping success to form the rock band Fightstar in 2003.

But the 26-year-old has gone further back into his childhood to find inspiration for the new album, and the music he listened to with his father, Mike, 61, a chartered surveyor who was a founding partner in Clarke and Simpson estate agents.

“I can remember the music playing in the car when I was being driven to school or when I used to go sailing with my dad at Ramsholt – Jackson Browne or the Beach Boys or Crosby, Stills & Nash,” he said.

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“Those songs made such an impression they have stayed with me through my life. So when I was getting my solo stuff down that influence came through.

“The album is really rooted in Suffolk. The cover shot is of me at Sutton Heath and some of the promotional pictures are at Thorpeness beach. It’s because of the fond memories I have of growing up.”

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Charlie has showcased his new acoustic, harmony-laden direction at a handful of gigs and is about to go out on tour.

He is due to play in Suffolk at the Harvest at Jimmy’s music festival on September 11 and also has hopes of booking a show at Snape Maltings.

Charlie, a former pupil of Brandeston Hall and Framlingham College, said he was enjoying the freedom of a solo career.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always known what it would sound like and it seemed like the right time.

“Fightstar had done three records in a row and we all felt a bit burnt out, so it was the perfect opportunity.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’ll keep it going for as long as it goes, there’s no shelf life. I’d like to take it to different countries.”

He started writing for the record last summer. “The real difference was the writing – there’s no-one to bounce ideas off. But you push yourself harder and get to grips with your inner songwriter. It’s also nice to be able to do what you want, when you want to do it.”

The recording of the album was funded through the Pledge Music website, where fans donate funds in return for bonus gifts, from signed memorabilia to private concerts in fans’ homes. It has been licensed through Pias.

Charlie said Fightstar were still together as a band, even though there was no set date to get back together. He is also working on a side project with his musicians brother Edd and Will, writing together one night a month with the end goal of 12 songs in 12 months.

But one group that is definitely finished is Busted, despite persistent rumours in the press. “It just makes me laugh now,” said Charlie. “The amount of times I’ve put out statements. I can’t put any more of a full stop to it. It’s never going to happen.”

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