Jake Bugg: "I’m the one I have to answer to…"
Tuesday 26 August 2014
Fresh out of his teenage years, singer-songwriter Jake Bugg has achieved the kind of success that most aspiring musicians can merely dream of. Since skyrocketing to number one with his eponymous debut album in 2012, the Nottingham-born guitar star's brand of inner-city blues has captured a colossal fan base, enticing favourable comparisons to veteran music legends including Bob Dylan.
What do we love most about this platinum-selling pop sensation? He doesn't seem to care much and isn't afraid to rock the boat with his matter-of-fact musings. Very old school rock 'n' roll. Between dating supermodels and ridiculing the world's biggest boy band, he has become the talk of the tabloids - but the stories in the press aren't enough to overshadow his exceptional talent. Taking a break from performing hits from his latest album Shangri La to UK festival goers, Bugg put some time aside to talk to StubHub UK about fame, fans and football (in his characteristic monotone, of course.)
What are your favourite cover tracks to perform, and why?
Anything by Johnny Cash and ‘Like Dreamers Do’ by The Beatles. I’ll cover a track that means a lot to me, but I have to put my own slant on it. To cover something in the exact same way as the original seems a bit disrespectful to me.
What are the most personal songs on your latest album Shangri La?
‘Two Fingers’ means a lot to me. ‘Messed Up Kids’ was also an important track, and the video represents a lot of what it was like growing up.
Where do you find inspiration for your songwriting?
It’s a cliché, but it’s all about real life. I know I’m young but I’ve had and seen some pretty profound things happen, and it’s all a result of being able to put that into words and music – that’s what makes the whole process special. I wouldn’t want to write about something I had no knowledge of… I’d feel a bit of a fake if I did that.
What about this argument about authenticity, your use of co-songwriters and so on?
I don’t care about that. People are always going to say things. And most people who say that, they’ve never met me. So they can’t comment. It don’t bother me, man, I don’t read the press. The people I write with, they aren’t random chaps. They are people I know, cool people. I’m young and by being open and playing with other people, you learn so much that will only develop your own songwriting. Look at old ‘60s records. A lot of those tunes were covers.
Do you think the public and critics expect too much of you?
That doesn’t really concern me. What motivates me is what I produce. I judge and criticise myself – I’m the one I have to answer to.
Do you get nervous before performing live? If so, how do you conquer your nerves?
I do get nervous but much of it is still so new to me that there’s not much time to get nervous about it. You know, before I toured America, I’d hardly left England, so that was my first real taste away from Blighty, and there was so much to take in.
Then you have somewhere like Japan. I mean, I never thought I’d be going to a place like that in my whole life. But I have to tell myself to enjoy it and not get lost in it.
Coming to a country without any concept of how well things are going is a bit strange, so it’s nice to turn up and see a lot more people there at the shows. But for a long time I couldn’t get too nervous about it because I didn’t know what to expect.
Do you think it's difficult to cope with fame if you're not a natural extrovert?
Not really – it’s quite a private life once you’re off stage. A lot of performers are introverts, most in fact.
You've travelled all around the world: do you still feel connected to your home town of Nottingham?
Yeah I do, but there is a sense of working class guilt from doing well for myself. Y’know, the fact I can go out and buy myself a new pair of trainers whenever I want, I feel guilty just because of that. Lying in the sunshine, playing music, touring the world - my mates back home are doing a 9-5 job. I’ve learnt that making everyone happy is a difficult task, but I can try.
We hear that you're quite a football fan, even considering this as an alternative career! Do you still play? Which team do you support?
I grew up supporting Notts County and you can’t ever really leave your first football love. There’s not a lot to mention in terms of their recent success!
I still love my football, but I’ve fallen out of love with the game. I sometimes think ‘what if I do the same with music?’ But once it’s in your blood, I don’t think I could do that now.
You seem to take this whole thing very seriously – do you relax much?
Of course I relax, yes. I imagine in a lot of interviews, I probably seem like a bit of a d**khead. But what people don’t realise is the guy interviewing me is the biggest d**khead of all a lot of the time. But you don’t see that. I’m probably quite tired and the guy is asking terrible questions about stuff that’s not even relevant, so, umm…
I don’t care what people think of me. If I meet someone face to face and they seem like a nice genuine person, we will get on. I’m an average, normal guy just getting on with things and enjoying the opportunity that’s come my way.
Find out what else Jake Bugg had to say to StubHub UK – including his thoughts on growing up in Clifton and his idols - by checking out the rest of their exclusive interview on the StubHub UK blog.
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