Busted’s Matt Willis on his plans for an ‘amazing’ Dubai gig

The biggest boyband from the Year 3000 are back

Busted’s Matt Willis on his plans for an ‘amazing’ Dubai gig
Busted’s Matt Willis on his plans for an ‘amazing’ Dubai gig Image #2

It’s been some 14 years since one of the biggest pop sensations hung up their skaterboy Vans sneakers, baggy jeans, frosted tips (that’s blonde highlights) and, of course, guitars, in search of ventures new.

If you remember Busted from the first time round you’re probably one of two types of people. Those who were a tad older and cynically looked down on tracks like Year 3000, Air Hostess and What I Go To School For, and those who couldn’t help but get whipped up into a frenzy over this uber fun-loving three-piece who just made music lively again, in an age where the pop industry was an oh-so-serious, well-oiled machine.

Having taken a break, grown up, had kids, launched other careers and everything else that happens over the course of a decade and a half, the boys are back, and it’s not just for nostalgia’s sake. There’s a new album, Half Way There, wildly reminiscent of Busted 1.0, but having quite clearly been written by older, wiser heads.

The band is also going to be making its Dubai debut at The Irish Village on Thursday March 14 – so how did the reunion come about, and what has made it such a successful comeback? (More on that later.)

“Well James and Charlie spoke again after a long time, and we all just said ‘let’s just meet up, man’,” says Busted’s bass player Matt Willis.

“We said ‘why don’t we just have a go, meet up somewhere, no pressure, and just see what happens?’. We flew to New York, which is sort of mutual territory for us, went on a road trip to Philadelphia and sat in a little studio for a week. We recorded some songs, hung out and played some of the old songs, and by the end of the week we were saying ‘I think we could make something fun happen here’.”

And something fun has indeed happened – met with incredible response by the UK public. Half Way There hit number two in the UK album charts, with only 900 sales separating them from top spot, thanks to another massive band making a long-awaited comeback – The Specials.

“If we’re going to lose to anyone, it’s okay to lose to some old, old, old-school legends,” he jokes. “But the new record is about us being a bit older, a bit wiser. The title is a bit of a joke about the seventh album reference in Year 3000 [Half Way There is Busted’s fourth studio album], but also about the fact we’re all in our mid-30s now, so we’re about halfway through our working lives.”

With the benefit of age and time, Willis also says the pressure is off now, following a whirlwind experience at just 19, back in 2002.

“We were only around for three years, back then,” Willis explains. “But it was a very formative time in our lives. It wasn’t real life, it was very strange. We were basically kids when we signed [aged 16], then started releasing records when we were 19. We were part of this big money making machine. We had toilet breaks scheduled for us – it was chaos.”

“After the first album came out, everything changed. Year 3000 was a smash hit, and all of a sudden we were flying off here there and everywhere. Once everyone involved with the band started making money, we knew there was a limited shelf life. There’s a reason why pop bands explode, then disappear again – because nobody can take that level of stress. It causes resentment, it causes fractured relationships between bands, because it’s an unsustainable lifestyle. I had a job in Tesco, and now I’m having to deal with all of this – fame, pressure and all that.”

Ahead of playing live in Dubai for the first time, what is Willis’ key message for fans?

“Busted is a gift, it really is. Life can get a bit serious at times, and we don’t take things so seriously. I love it, and I love that people love it. Busted means something to people because it takes us back to a time when we had less responsibility. Don’t worry, we’ll play the hits – I want to put on an amazing show, and physically crawl off the stage.”

We won’t see you in the Year 3000, but we will see you at The Irish Village.
Dhs175. Thu Mar 14. The Irish Village, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Garhoud, www.800tickets.com.

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