An interview with ... James Walsh (Starsailor)

James Walsh has had various levels of success as frontman to one of the most iconic British indie-rock bands and as a solo artist. Starsailor are set to continue to impress not only their loyal fans but also a new wave of fans of all ages and following the annoucement of their UK tour and ahead of the release of their next studio album, James was able to spare some time to speak to me about what got him into music, the evolution of the Starsailor sound and advise to all up and coming bands:

You have been on the music scene for while now with your solo work and with Starsailor. Is music something you alway wanted to do?

Yes, music is one of the few things I have tried my hand at and excelled in. I love football and I love watching it and playing it but try as I might I cant quite seem to get any good at it. Or certainly not when i was growing up. Whereas music was something that I enjoyed but also got better and better at the more work I put into it. You are taught as a kid that if you work hard at anything you can achieve it which isnt entirely true. Its about finding what you are good at and what you excel in and then concentrating your efforts on that.

Was there a key moment in your life that cemented the fact that this is what you wanted to do and that this was going to be a full time career for you?
I think watching The Verve. I had been passionate about music before that and enjoyed playing in different bands and I was already studying music at college. But I think that seeing The Verve on that huge stage in front of all of those people, that was the catalyst that made me think thats what I want. It almost became an obsession after that, this was the be all and end all and I’ve got to get there basically, Iv got to get on one of those big stages and communicate how i feel about things to the world through my songs 

Is there something that you use to give you inspiration  for your lyrics to help you commuicate that message about how you feel about things?

Its varied over the years, I was 20 when we signed and I am 37 now. So back in the day it was a combination of the ultimate contradiction that exists in most teenagers or those in their early 20s, where  on one hand you are supremely confident and think you can take on the world but on the other hand extremely insecure particularly around relationships and girls. There is a lot of songs about all the ups and downs of that and just generally feeling a bit of a misfit until all the music fell into place and i had somewhere I belonged.

I know with Starsilor particularly you have had a lot of success, some fantastic songs have come out and great albums, your new Starsailor album is due for release 1st September. Just from speaking to people you can sense that this is highly anticipated by your fans, is it a great feeling to finally get it out there?

Yes definately especially after such a long time away. Its good because you can gauge a bit. We have put out a few songs and had a good response. In the old days people wouldnt know anything about the album apart from reviews and maybe one song on the radio  so a lot of people who have downloaded the 2 songs we have put out there have given us great response and we are maybe not as nervous as we would normally be that people enjoy the album.

All This Life-

And its fifth studio, are we still going to get the Starsailor sound we are used to or is there any surprises on there?

A bit of both really. Its the most difficult thing as an artist is staying true to yourself. What drives you and inspires you but also paying some respect to the audience that got you where you are. So hopefully we have stuck a decent balance between staying true to the sound thats got is where we are and also enhancing it a bit. Songs like “F.I.A”., “Caught in the middle” and “Take a little time” are probably the furthest away from traditional Starsailor sound. Whereas the other tracks are maybe slightly more in keeping with the essence of “Love is fear” and going back to the original sound.

You have also announced your UK. tour throughout the whole of October, what can be expected of those shows?

A bit of everything. As much as we would love to get on stage and play the new album in its entirety there is a lot of people who would  have listened at the time when the first and second album came out and would represent a key time in their life like it does for us. Maybe they were at university or college and they want to go back there, they want to go back and hear those songs that they remember so we want to give people that warm nostalgic feeling but hopefully impress them and keep them with us for the journey on the new stuff aswell.

I last saw you play IOW festival and you drew some incredible crowd numbers, do you prefer a festival crowd or are you more into your own shows?

Our own shows are great because people have gone to the trouble of coming to see us but the advantage of a festival and the best feeling is when you have gone down well at a festival because the advantage of a festival is that little bit of friendly competition. But there is definitely that element that you want to be one of the bands that people are talking about, seeing those messages and getting that crowd response that you were one of their highlights. It gives an extra incentive to really put on a great show and give it all you have got. 

Being on stages such as the Hard Rock stages, you must get to see a lot of fantastic up and coming bands and artists, is there anyone that you think stands out as one to watch for the future?

There is loads of great acts out there. There is a lad called Will Morgan who we have worked with recently he is fantastic. We have been fortunate to have some great bands support us on the road. Paves who are a great little rock and roll band, Bang Bang Romeo, also Sigrid, she hasn't supported us but that is definitely an artist that I'm excited about for the future. She has come out of the blocks pretty strong with a great EP. 

Since getting the chance to speak to many bands and artists both established and new,  I have noticed that everyone has admirable commitment and passion for what they do and how they do it. Do you have any advise for those up and coming bands who are really trying to make it?

I think its imporant to do it as early as possible. Form a band, concentrate on the songs and enjoy it as early as possible. As soon as bands become too desperate for a deal I think the sound becomes fake, they chase it too hard. Whereas a band should be about being young and enjoying it and having that passion to make the best music you can possibly make. Not just the passion to be successful to get a deal and to sacrifice the sound you naturally make in order to make a living from music. That was a key thing that changed for us, as soon as we stopped chasing the record deal too hard and concentrated on the songs and doing our own thing instead of trying to fit in the scene thats when ironically it all came together.  I think its better for the audience if they see a band up there doing something new that has a smile on their face instead of thinking that the next showcase has to be the one that gets a deal or a tour. Just enjoy it. 

The new album “All This Life” is available to pre-order now with tracks “All this life” and “Listen to your Heart” available to listen to with your pre-order. 

Tickets to the UK tour can be found at