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Matt Willis


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"I hadn't watched Saturday morning TV for ages," says Matt Willis rubbing his straggly goatee beard at a rehearsal space in North London. "I came back from Australia because I'd been away for New Year, I was jet lagged and I was up really early in the morning, and I was like 'Are you fucking kidding me? This is the best Britain has to offer?' I couldn't believe it. I was watching it wanting to cry!"

Hang out the bunting! Organise a street party! Because just when you thought British pop music was beyond saving, the cavalry has arrived. Having achieved multi-platinum album sales, sold out Wembly 11 times in 2004 and scored 4 number ones as part of Busted, Matt Willis has returned with an album which might well surpass even these mighty achievements. The as yet untitled debut, is a full on, balls out monster of a record, with a sound that Matt accurately describes as "stadium pop" - think Robbie, Green Day and Van Halen jamming underneath a firework display.

First single 'Up All Night' is pyrotechnic pop to pogo to. Follow-up 'Hey Kid' is the biggest anthem Def Leppard never wrote and will see music fans punching the air from Beijing to Birkenhead. 'Don't Let It Go To Waste' has a chorus so enormous it's surprising planning permission wasn't required. And that's just the first three tracks. Elsewhere there's the brutally honest ballad 'From Myself Baby', the prime pop punk of 'Get Bored' and the piledriving breathtaking 'Sound Of America'.

Matt Willis has smashed the received wisdom about what members of pop groups do when they grow up and go solo. There are no self-indulgent whinges about the pressures of fame here, and no dreary attempts to sound 'mature'. Written and produced with Jason Perry and Daniel P. Carter, formerly of A, and their friend Julian Emery, the album is simply an awsomely confident record that will make Matt Willis one of the defining stars of 2006 and beyond.

The night before Busted announced that they were splitting up in a press conference at the Soho Hotel in early 2005, Matt went out and got epically plasted with some friends, then stayed in the hotel for the next week, a period documented in the lyrics to 'Hey Kid'. Matt went through the inevitable period of writing self-indulgent songs alone on an acoustic guitar which were "rubish, I was trying to big it up in my head, going 'this is really special and honest' when in fact it was just me trying to say what I thought I should say."

Writing and recording the album has taken about a year, taking such glamorous places as Brussels and Southend. Despite its massive sound, it was actually made by a very small team - "Ninety per cent of my album has been done in a demo studio in a barn," says Matt. "Musically, it's been so much fun, it's just been like 'fuck it, are we going too over the top? Actually, why the fuck don't we go over the top?' This record has just been a fucking laugh to do. There's been a lot of late nights but it's never once felt like work."

Recording however, interrupted by the aforementioned spell in rehab, which Matt now looks back on as an overreaction to the fact that he was drinking too much, he says, "starting to be a bit of a dickhead. In rehab, they talk about you hitting rock bottom, but I saw it more as a prevention against becoming a total arsehole. I was there for two weeks, but you're supposed to be in there for a month. I did the whole going to meetings thing, I stopped drinking for a while, but I was like, 'do you know what? I don't want to spend four nights out of my week in a church hall listening to people talk about getting pissed'. I listened to everyone talk about how dark it was and I was like 'wait a second, I had a wicked time!' I might have had a bit of a dark moment but I think everyone does."

Despite Matt's brief spell in The Priory, this is not a rehab album, and only 'Luxury' relates to his experiences there. "In rehab you've got nothing except coffee, so you drink a shitload of it. Everyone wants a luxury, and mine was the thought of my girlfriend driving me home. 'Hey Kid' is about the week Busted split up. "It starts 'Lying here on my girl/Turn on the radio/Shame we had to bail/You know we put on quite a show'. That night in the hotel, I turned on Sky News and there was the press conference. And we weren't actually shit, we were one of the good ones, I thought. I was always proud of what we did. I always thought we were true to pop."

'Up All Night' is also about a subject with which Matt is intimately acquainted - getting wrecked. "It's about how you find yourself with people you're out who you don't know whatsoever except in that enviroment. It's also got a line 'there's a picture in my wallet, I dare not speak her name'. It's about a relationship going wrong so you try to get yourself away from thinking about it by going out and partying - that's probably my solution to everything. It's also about not being able to sleep. I sleep an hour and a half every night, I can never get to sleep."

Then there's 'Sound Of America', which despite its riotous sound drew on Matt's experiences while shooting the TV series 'America Or Busted', "it was all about that, being in America and being a bit bummed out." And that's not to mention the other six tracks, all equally demanding of any self-respecting pop fan's ardent attention.

Matt's ambitions for the album are rightfully high and he needn't worry. A triumphant showcase at Scala in King's Cross left everyone who saw it in no doubt that a star had been reborn a superstar, and that the boy has become a man (even if he is only 23, the bastard).

Taken from Matt's official profile.

http://www.mattwilliszone.com/radio is from a fansite and you can listen to some of his songs.

http://www.mattwillis.net is his official site.

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