Interview: Jack Foley
JAMES Blunt has certainly had a rich and varied life - so it
is little wonder that he has put his experiences to good use by
becoming a songwriter and musician.
A former soldier, his Army career saw him stationed in Kosovo
as part of NATO’s peacekeeping force, before he then spent
time protecting the Queen on horseback and the Queen Mother, while
she lay in state.
Yet he always had his eye on a career in the music industry and,
a week after leaving the Army, James had secured himself a manager.
Three weeks later, a publishing deal was inked and he soon began
courting the attention of Linda Perry.
Here he chats with IndieLondon about the story so far - giving
a brief, but frank and funny insight into his hopes for the future
and thoughts so far...
Q. From soldier to singer seems quite a transition. Can
you quite believe it? Does it still seem like a dream come true
and are there pinch-me moments?
A. I've been very fortunate, it's taken thick skin, luck
and a good manager.
Q. When did you first know that you wanted to become
A. At school I saw a boy in the year above playing the
electric guitar. It wasn't him it was the guitar!!
Q. Who are/were your musical inspirations?
A. My Mother, she made me learn the piano aged seven.
Q. Why the military? And how long did you spend in Kosovo
as part of the Nato Peace-Keeping Force? What sort of work did
you carry out?
A. Daddy. Six months. We stopped people killing each
Q. What sort of skills do you think you acquired from
your military career that might stand you in good stead for a
career in the music industry?
A. In the Army, I hid in bushes. It wasn't very useful.
I'm not nervous on stage; perhaps the Army helped with this.
Q. What’s harder to
accept – a tough drill sergeant, or the corporate game-playing
of record companies?
A. There's no arguing with a drill sergeant!
Q. How much has your military influence and the things
you’ve seen/helped with served as an inspiration for your
A. Cry and obviously No Bravery are
influenced by those experiences but otherwise I try not to bring
the army into it.
Q. The album, Back
To Bedlam, is an intensely personal listen, driven by quality
songwriting and heartfelt sentiments about love and life. How
long did it take to write?
A. The bulk of it was written in the two years leading
up to going into the studio.
Q. What are your favourite tracks? And why?
A. Goodbye my Lover, because it's miserable.
So Long Jimmy, because it's fun!
Q. What did you think when first approached by Linda
Perry, and then, similarly, by Atlantic Records?
Q. And what did you take away/learn from working with
someone as established as Tom Rothrock?
A. To believe in the process and experience of others;
he took my most valuable possesions and made them into a album.
Q. What do you think of the critical and commercial reaction
to the album so far, both here and in America?
A. People have been incredibly positive (thank god) but
most importantly I like the album. It's just good to have made
something that I am happy with.
Q. And what are your plans for 2005, having burst onto
the scene so spectacularly in 2004?
A. You're too kind.. I intend to enjoy every moment of
the ride, if I can sustain this as a job then life is good.
Q. And finally, given your background, what are your
views on the war on Iraq? And do you agree with what a lot of
artists have united to say about it?
A. If the local people of Iraq don't want you there,
you shouldn't be there...