“Do you know what?” Matt Willis asks, turning around to his bandmates at a Swansea hotel. “This is fucking brilliant right now. It feels really good in Busted. Is that just me?!”
The answer is unanimous: no, it’s not only Matt who’s enjoying all things Busted. Neither are the good vibes reserved just for his two pals Charlie Simpson and James Bourne, either. Currently on the road enjoying a sold-out 26-date run (the biggest UK arena tour of 2023, they’ll announce onstage in London a few days later), there are quite literally thousands of people totally wrapped up in Busted fever at the moment, as the pop-rock trio celebrate 20 years since their first two albums: 2002’s Busted and 2003’s A Present For Everyone.
“The thing that’s weird, actually, is it’s more than the last 20 years – the way that it’s positioned right now and the way that it feels at the shows, it feels like we’re on the precipice of something really big,” grins James. “You have to come to understand. I can’t really explain it, but there’s a vibe…”
“It feels amazing,” agrees Charlie. “The stars have aligned, and everything’s just really cool. When Busted came out, we were lucky enough to find our way in people’s lives at a point in their lives that’s really stayed with them. Twenty years have gone by, and some bands are really scared of doing things that are nostalgia-driven, but I think it’s awesome; nostalgia is a very powerful emotion, and I love listening to all that throwback stuff. We just did a Spotify playlist and I put in Fenix TX, Matt put Finch in… it just takes you back. I can see what I was doing at 15 years old at that moment, and it brings back so many memories. What an awesome thing that is.”
And not only is this milestone being appreciated all across the country in-person between band and fans, but there’s also an equally impressive audio feast coming, too: Greatest Hits 2.0, a double album of re-recorded Busted classics, and a star-studded compilation featuring everyone from Dashboard Confessional and Simple Plan to Neck Deep and Charlotte Sands.
Here, Matt, James and Charlie talk us through Greatest Hits 2.0 and inspiring today’s pop-punk bands, hoping to work with Bring Me The Horizon one day, and growing up wanting to be blink-182…
The three of you have been doing your own thing for the past few years, but did you have the 20th anniversary of Busted earmarked, and whose idea was it to go, ‘Okay, we’re gonna come together and do a massive arena tour and a greatest hits album’?
Charlie: “We were aware that the anniversary was coming up and that we’d never done a greatest hits, so those two things were always floating in the background. But I think Matt was the first person to suggest doing the greatest hits with other artists, which I thought was really interesting. With the playlist generation you can make your own greatest hits, so it’s a bit pointless, so we definitely wanted to re-record the songs, and then it just snowballed into this crazy thing where we also ended up working with 15 artists.”
Matt: “Which was a logistical nightmare!”
Charlie: “We have personal connections with a lot of the artists, but to go through everything and get it all over the line was a really tough thing. But we got there in the end, and it’s amazing.”
Matt: “I’ve never really been excited about any band doing a greatest hits, because it just feels like you’re selling the same old shit again. I like the idea of going to watch a band play their greatest hits, but the idea of just releasing a greatest hits album didn’t excite us. But going into the studio again, and re-recording the songs as we play them now, that felt fucking exciting, and something that we really wanted to do. And getting different people to feature on them just sounded really fun, and we wanted to work with all these people and we were stoked they said yes. It’s been a really cool experience.”