Most/All of the Sunday Times Interview
Jake Bugg, Glastonbury headliner, guitar wunderkind and the youngest British male to debut in the album charts at No 1, is telling me about his issues with modern music.“Manufactured pop bands, they don’t have any heart, they don’t have any soul,” he moans. “It’s really sad for me, when you work hard at what you do with your guitar, and then you pop the radio on and it’s like some weird trumping sound coming out of it.”Jake, you sound geriatric, I say. “Yeah, but if I’m a 20-year-old and I’m saying that, then I think we should be worried,” he continues. “All the lyrics are about one-night stands, holding your glass up and twerking and stuff like that. I know I might sound like a dad, but it’s frustrating to hear people my age going on about stuff like that when, personally, I think there are more important things in the world.”Are there any contemporary artists he does like? Maybe not One Direction — whose songs he has outed as “meaningless”; or Mumford & Sons — once described by Bugg as “posh farmers with banjos” — but… anyone?“No,” he shrugs. “I want to like contemporary music. It’s not my fault that it doesn’t sound very good.”Bugg is perhaps the closest any of us will come to meeting a real-life Time Lord. While his actual balls may have dropped a few years ago, his metaphorical ones are still jiggling about all over the place. It’s disconcerting: one minute he’s wowing you with his maturity and clarity of thought; the next, he’s squeaking about the time he “battered” some boys at football in his local park to win the affections of his now-best friend, Jaz. “That is how we first met; him and his mates wanted to beat me up!” I’ve never known anyone so young and so ancient. So what kind of music does Bugg find acceptable? Anything that was recorded at least 20 years before he was born, seems to be the general rule. The first song he fell in love with was a version of Don McLean’s 1971 ballad Vincent, which he heard on an episode of The Simpsons (I love this story). From there he worked backwards, discovering the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and the blues.“I don’t have a drink till I’ve got off stage and I would never drink alone. I only smoke when I have nothing to do. I’ve got to be professional, haven’t I?” He was 12 when he got his first guitar, 16 when he started gigging in pubs, 17 when he signed his record deal with the Universal imprint Mercury Records, and 18 when his self-titled debut album was released, sending him into the record books. Since then he has supported the Rolling Stones, toured with his spiritual trad-rock father, Noel Gallagher, released a follow-up album, Shangri La, and dated the supermodel Cara Delevingne. Only this last notch seems incongruous. On stage and in person, Bugg has a sexy, confident presence, but in person he is a shuffler. He dawdles into the hotel bar for our interview with none of the swagger his Oasis-inspired moptop and anorak are supposed to convey. When he opens his mouth to speak it is inaudible at first, then, eventually, a lazy, stumbling, monotone drawl. Presumably this is why he rarely says anything between songs when he’s performing live. Despite his male-model looks, I expect he went unnoticed at school; overlooked by the girls for the louder, cockier boys, and seriously underestimated by the teachers. “People think I’m dead behind the eyes,” he has admitted — although listen hard and there is an awful lot going on. Bugg grew up on the Clifton estate, Nottingham, at one time the biggest council estate in Europe. He describes it as “claustrophobic”; a place where everyone “dreams of going on and doing better things”, but “is so busy getting involved in everyone else’s problems that they can’t take care of their own”.His parents split up around the time Jake Edwin Kennedy was born. He has stayed in touch with his father — “he saved up for when I was 18 and got me this guitar I wanted. That was a nice gesture” — and took his surname, Bugg, but it was his mother who brought him up. She never got mad at me. She let me make a lot of mistakes for myself. Just let me be pretty much independent,” he says complimentarily. When she went out to work at her full-time job in IT sales, it was Bugg who had to “wash the pots, cut the grass and do the washing and stuff.” He also has a half-sister, five years his junior, and he’d sometimes have to make her dinner when they got back from school. That must have been a lot of responsibility for a young boy, I say. “Nah,” he grins, “it was only like Super Noodles.”When he was 13, his mother lost her job.“They made her redundant and it got a bit difficult after that. She had to go on the dole. I think it helped me become the person I am today — gave me more of a drive to get out of there. I always wanted the privilege of being able to go where I want to go, meet who I want to meet, eat where I want to eat. I can do that now.”It was his uncle who bought him his first guitar and taught him to play his first two chords. “I fell in love with it. I could move my fingers slightly and make this amazing sound, and it was something different, my friends didn’t do it. Whereas football — which I was massively into, everyone plays it, so it’s incredibly competitive and very difficult to become a professional. Music was more personal and unique, and you could express yourself through it.”Before he was born, his mother and father had played in a musical group — though not the right vintage for Bugg’s taste. “Really cheesy, poppy ’80s stuff,” he snorts. Discovering the blues was his small act of rebellion. “That was the exciting thing, because it felt like it was mine.” He couldn’t afford to buy albums.
-sent from anon!