Jake Bugg, 29, first caught the public’s attention aged just 16, when he played the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury. Since then he’s had five Top Ten albums and most recently his music was used as the theme tune to TV smash Happy Valley. Here he talks about his forthcoming concert for the Teenage Cancer Trust, tells us why he plays his albums back to front and gives us a startling revelation…
You’re about to play London’s Royal Albert Hall for Teenage Cancer Trust…
Yeah. What they’ve been doing, for many years now, has been absolutely brilliant, hasn’t it? So important. I just think it’s incredible what they do. I think cancer is something that affects us all, either directly or indirectly. It’s very rare that you meet someone who hasn’t had a friend or family member suffer at the hands of it.
It’s a great line-up of acts for a great cause. Will you be hanging around all week?
I’m hoping to catch some of the other acts. Kasabian, Wet Leg and Courteeners – they all sound pretty good! I’ve not seen any of them play live.
Last year was all about your self-titled debut album, which received the expanded treatment for its tenth anniversary. How did it feel returning to that record?
It’s like time travel, in a way – you’re going back, hearing a younger version of yourself. It’s funny, especially when you find some songs that even you’d forgotten writing. You get an insight into where I was in my life at that time, what emotions I was going through – it’s all portrayed in the music.
I’d only just been signed, I’d come straight off the council estate, hanging around in my tracksuits, trying to write folk and country songs. It’s interesting when you look back at yourself.
How was the big November anniversary hometown show, at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena?
It was brilliant! I hadn’t played there since 2013-2014 I think, so going back and playing all those old songs was just incredible. I wasn’t expecting so much support, to be honest. I didn’t know if people’s appetite would still be there. But it was, and we had one of the best nights ever.
You played your debut album in full, but in reverse order. Why?
Usually, when you make an album, you put your strongest songs first, your singles – Lightning Bolt, Two Fingers, Taste It. I was quite conscious of that. So if we played it backwards, we’d end on the more popular songs, rather than end on a really sad ballad.
Obviously, there were a few sceptics, but I think it worked really well, it added a real dynamic to the show. It made the crowd guess a bit more, they had to think about it backwards.
You live in London now but does Nottingham still feel like home?
In some ways, yeah. Obviously, my family and friends are there, and it’s the place I grew up, so there’s a huge attachment. But, at the same time, ever since I was young I wanted to get out and see a bit of the world and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that. But because of that, I think it feels like a more special place when I do return.
If last year was about old music, is this year going to be about new tunes?
Yeah, hopefully. I’ve started writing. I’m just trying to think about the direction I want to take this next record, sonically. I like to do each one differently. The last one was definitely a lot more producer/pop orientated, which was fun. But now I want to do something else and see where it leads.
No plans for the tenth anniversary edition of 2013’s Shangri La, then?
Oh! We’ll have to see about that. I don’t think there’s as much unreleased material as there was for the first album. But who knows? It’d be great to do a show and play that record in its entirety. That’s one of my finest memories – making that album. A great time in my life.
Great to hear Trouble Town as the theme to Happy Valley. Did you enjoy the series?
I haven’t seen it!
Everyone tells me it’s amazing as well, so I’m going to have to watch it now.
You’ve not even seen the introduction sequence, with your track on?
No, I haven’t. Everyone tells me it suits it really well. I’ve had a couple of people come up to me to say that’s how they discovered my music, which is absolutely brilliant – if you make a few new fans from a really cool TV show, that’s great.
Jake Bugg plays his Teenage Cancer Trust Royal Albert Hall show on March 23, teenagecancertrust.org
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