In the basement of the Leadmill, Sheffield, we arrive half an hour late, to find Fightstar chilling after their sound check. The camp dressing table, with lights running up the side of the mirror that wouldn’t look out of place in Liz Taylor’s home, is overrun with the bands rider; a veritable food mountain, including a student favourite, Smartprice gin.
We have Charlie Simpson, preparing a skyscraper ‘Scooby doo’ style sandwich, and Alex Westway, looking like an art boy, on vocals and guitar; and Dan Haigh, who admitted to us having a penchant for sex up trees, on bass. The illusive drummer Omar Abidi, who was catching up on beauty sleep at the hotel, was substituted in the interview by the presence of one of their entourage to make up the foursome.
The boys introduce themselves to us and are relaxed and friendly, answering all questions with an easy air and joking among themselves. Definitely a group of people you could easily have a drink with in the Charles.
Fightstar were able to handpick the other bands accompanying them on various dates of the tour: Laruso, Dan’s mate’s band; Brigade, Charlie’s cousin band; and Amour for Sleep, a band the guys have huge admiration for from the States. This is clearly a tour for up and coming bands, putting their sound out there.
Typical of any new band Fightstar have much of the rest of the year planned without a holiday in sight. The tour will help promote their new single, Paint your Target released on the 13th of June along with the de rigueur appearances on T4 and cd:uk, which you may have caught recently. They will be performing over the summer at Reading and T in the Park. The tour finished about a week after we met them and they were to going straight into the studio (and to sleep) to complete writing and recording their album, which will no doubt be followed up by another whistle stop tour.
Having said that, they did have the day off after the gig in Sheffield and were looking forward to a day of paint balling, if only to escape the stench of the tour bus. That following evening they were to return to the Leadmill to see The Disasocatives, Daniel Johns’ of Silverchair fame (or Natalie Imbrulia’s husband for those of you in the know), new band. They still have a healthy love of other band’s music and were eagerly awaiting the release of the Deftones album and admire such band as Taking back Sunday and Team Sleep.
The gig kicked off with Laruso, not the easiest slot to fill, but they rose to the occasion, followed by the American band and finally Brigade. Fightstar are greeted by the crowd and get straight into the set, obviously including Palahnuik’s Laughter, their first single and Paint your Target. Some songs are from a previously released EP and if you listened hard enough you would have heard some exclusives and if the crowd’s reaction is anything to go by they should make the final cut on the album.
As for Paint your Target, imagine a fusion of rock, heavy guitars and plenty of masculine screaming with feminine male harmonies provided by Alex. This may sound like a recipe for disaster but strangely enough it works. There’s just enough guitar riffs and talented guitar solos to entertain even the dubious of Fightstar admirers. And this coincidently, roused an already charged and highly diverse crowd into a frenzy at the venue!
It can’t be denied that the band had something to prove. With the aftermath of Busted still looming over Simpson like a bad smell, Fightstar needed to use these gigs to their advantage and effectively flash the middle finger to a select group of music critics. And that they did. From their highly obliging answers and plying us with free beer to their crowd pleasing performance on stage.
The band were keen to highlight the fact that they were in full support of the Make Poverty History campaign and were hoping to be in the crowd at the Live 8 concert in London at the beginning of July. We suspect that along with many other people all over the country they may have been disappointed with the results of the lottery for tickets.
When we asked what the band’s philosophy is, do we get answers of “we just love the music” or “we’re just in it for the girls, man”? No. The band hesitated before answering “Chastity of Wisdom”, make what you will of that people!
Charlie has an affinity for York as it plays host to his girlfriend’s home, who he managed one too many times; clearly a man smitten or scared we were about to jump him. So Fibbers may hold the perfect venue in the near future on their continuing quest for success in the music industry.
Unfortunately Fightstar’s current tour is coming to an end, but those of you who are heading to festivals this summer, Fightstar can be seen at the Reading/ Leeds festivals and at T In The Park. Go find out for yourselves if Charlie has shaken off the Busted image.
(Selcan Kayihan and Jennie Meakin)