James Bourne ex-Busted, now Son Of Dork, is proud that pop music no longer has to mean the insipid boy bands of the late '90s. Thanks to bands like Son Of Dork, starting with Busted and via the likes of McFly, pop music is going back to its roots - accessible, catchy, unashamedly populist music played by actual musicians.
It's no coincidence that in every town, you'll see young kids with guitars strapped to their backs, on their way to rehearse in their very own bands that they've formed with friends at school. After months of searching for the right band, finely tuning the songs and working out a plan to take over the world, Son Of Dork have released their awesome debut album, Welcome To Loserville with their debut single, Ticket Outta Loserville going straight in at number 3 in the UK charts.
I LIKE MUSIC caught up with the Son Of Dork boys a few weeks before the release of second single, Eddie, to find out how they're enjoying life, the auditions and their lyrics.
"I like music because… it's a good method of personal expression." Danny, SON OF DORK
ILM: How has this week been?
David: I'm quite tired and smelly, but it's been good.
ILM: Your debut single Ticket Outta Loserville did well and is a real energetic number. Can you give us your own personal description of its whole vibe?
David: The song itself is very upbeat and fast-paced and catchy. I'm rubbish at reading into songs though.
ILM: Your debut album, 'Welcome To Loserville' is out now. Which track on the album did you have the most fun laying down in the studio?
David: I'd probably say Slacker. It's a lot more fast-paced than the other songs and stays up all the time, that's my kind of thing. I really enjoy playing that one, I started doing my guitar and I remember doing that one in the studio really late. We started on it about 11pm and I couldn't finish it that night, so I was really gutted, because I wanted to finish it that night because I like the song so much and I wanted to get it done and hear it. We had to wait until the next day to get it finished and when it was done, I was like, 'this song is awesome!'
Steve: Murdered In The Mosh because the lyrics are really cool, it's a fun song and I think the majority of them are, so I really like it.
ILM: You had Gil Norton, the man behind albums for the Pixies, Foo Fighters and Jimmy Eat World working on it. What did you learn from Gil?
David: Man… that guy! I mean, walking into a studio with a producer with a name like that, you don't know what to expect, and I had an image in my head that he'd be really high pressure, fast-paced, but he was really patient, really nice and knows exactly what he's on about, so you walk in and he's just so patient, he's like 'what can you do with that bit,' and he's not over-analytical on tuning, everything has to be perfectly tuned, but every time you hit the note he's like, 'let's just tune that up again,' and it's exactly the same tuning as it was before, but he's like, 'we'll just do it again just in case.' And he'll sometimes pick up your guitar and do the tuning himself, he's so up on that. He was so amazing to watch working. Years and years of music experience, he's just so smart. He's a great musician but overall as a person, he's just such a good guy man. He's funny.
ILM: James wrote all the tracks on the album. Can you describe the Son of Dork process of making such energetic poprocktastic music please?
David: When we were doing the songs, James showed us some in practice, and basically he gives us the bones and we all put the flesh on it together (if you think of it in a really sick and sad way), so you get the basic structure and then we add everything into it to make it better. For the upbeat songs, like Loserville and Slacker, I like those songs because I'm a big fan of pop punk bands like Blink 182 and they have these fast bits and fiddly things, and I'm really into all that kind of stuff, so my aspect of it will be to add bits like that into some of the songs. And Danny just chills and listens to it, and whatever it needs, we'll just chuck it in; if it sounds like it needs to be more upbeat in this part, Danny will just go a bit mental and we'll play around with it, so everyone brought their own thing into it, because everyone's influence in music is slightly different. We all have mutual agreements on certain bands we all like, but we all have different favourites, and we all have different influences and they shone through in our music. The slower ones you can see Chris's influence coming through. On Sick where he does a bit fat solo, that's like Chris's input; he's really in to Guns N Roses and stuff, he's a big solo guy. So that's what we did, we took the basic structure and then made the song based round our own influences. It gives the songs colour. I think that's my smartest line for a while.
James: I racked my brain to write the lyrics and I think people listening to the album must think, how the hell did they come up with all the stories, because I don't write songs and won't even bother finishing them if there's not a strong lyrical meaning, because that's what a song is - a three and half minute story. All the best songs and my favourite songs have great lyrics and stories and they've all got a message in there somewhere. It's good when you can listen to a song and forget about the music and just read the lyrics. I think you can read our lyrics, you really can, you can open up the album cover and read the lyrics like a book, and it's interesting. You could sell them as poems. Maybe there should be a Son Of Dork poem book?
ILM: The first real song you wrote was What I Go To School For, which is just brilliant. How did it feel when you heard it on the radio?
James: Me and Matt wrote that, and it was after we wrote that song that we realized this song is good enough to be on the radio and be in the charts. We felt like we'd written a hit, you know when you do something and just know it's going to do well? It was like that, and it was cool hearing it on the radio. It wasn't number one but it still did very well.
ILM: You started to learn the guitar age 7 and now look what you've done! How does it feel being responsible for more kids learning to play the guitar, having inspired a whole new generation?
James: It feels amazing. I went to buy my kid brother a guitar in town and the guy behind the counter looked at me, pointed and said, 'you're the reason we're selling so many guitars,' and I was like, 'cool, commission?'
David: I wish I'd been playing that long, man. I'd be more on top of my game. Everyone in this band is playing the guitar better than me! It's quite scary really, Danny's been playing the guitar for about ten years and he's the drummer. I started when I was 14 or so have been playing four or five years. Steve's been playing for seven or eight years. It's cool though, because you can jam with anyone in the band. It's cool though, because you see a lot more people playing the guitar these days.
ILM: James - you love being in a band rather than being solo. What's the best thing about being in Son Of Dork compared to being in Busted?
James: It's hard to sum up you know. This band isn't really like Busted where we were all so different, but we're all on the same page. We're all the same kind of people. Busted was really a one-off thing. Everyone in this band are really nice guys, so we're just five guys who really like the same music and have a good time. We have a common ground and that's what our music is, all bands will tell you that. It's very similar to Busted, but it just rocks more. It's almost like someone took Busted and put it through a rock-rock-rock machine.
ILM: Steve - your stepdad is an Elvis impersonator and encouraged you to get up on stage and play the guitar. What does he think of your success so far with your debut?
Steve: He's chuffed to bits, really chuffed with me. That's where I got a lot of my influences from because I'm really into 50s and 60s rock n roll. Elvis is my idol, but I also like punk. Green Day is my second best thing in the whole world and Billie Joe Armstrong is another idol. So it's thanks to my step-dad that I'm on stage and playing the guitar.
ILM: I hear you visited Graceland too, what was that like?
Steve: It was emotional that - really cool. It's like a different world, so much fun.
ILM: Have you met Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day yet?
Steve: Not yet, but I'm hoping to meet him when they tour next year. I hope so.
ILM: Well you never know, you might get asked to support them?
Steve: Nah, not a chance. But I just want to meet him even if it was just for two minutes, to say, 'Billie Joe - you're the reason I'm playing the guitar.'
ILM: Can you describe your favourite place on earth?
Steve: Gracelands - Memphis. I'd love to have a house in Memphis, it means a lot. Sun studios are there, where he did his first recording, and his house.
James: ….and Justin Timberlake comes from there too!
Steve: Oh yeah, and Justin Timberlake. I'd love to have a house in San Francisco too, where Billie Joe lives.
ILM: What are you doing for Christmas?
Steve: I'm going home and I might be taking a vacation with Danny, because he's like a bigger brother, so that'll be fun.
ILM: James placed ads in NME and The Stage to get you all together. Was James like Simon Cowell at a table in front of auditionees?
Danny: It was a little bit like that and there were thousands of people there. We had to go in to the room in groups of ten, and there were two preliminary auditions, the first of which was basically to see if you could play or not. Because there were lots of 16 year olds who just liked the idea of being in a band who couldn't play or who'd been playing for a couple or weeks. The first audition they got rid of people who couldn't play. The first one we had to play for 30 seconds and the second one for 45 seconds. So there were only 10 drummers left for the second audition and I didn't think I was going to get it, to be honest, and it was really mad.
ILM: Danny - you spent ten years playing with hardcore metal band Spiral Rock. How does being in Son Of Dork compare?
Danny: It's very strange to be truthful. It's just as challenging, but it's challenging in a different way from a drummer perspective. Being in a pop band is completely the opposite end of the scale to what I'm used to. It's just different. All my mates back home are taking the p out of me and that, but, at the end of the day, they'd give their right arms to do what I'm doing. And it's good music anyway. I like being in this band, it's amazing.
ILM: The name Son Of Dork came from a scene in Problem Child. What inspires you about 'loser' movies? Do you think it's important to get across the message that it's good to be different?
James: Everyone out there is so hell bent on being cool and people forget that being cool is just about being yourself and whatever makes you happy. And people get called geeks or dorks or whatever because they're different to everyone else, but everyone is supposed to be unique and different.