Interview With Toseland - 22nd September 2014
Photo Of James Toseland © Copyright Trigger Trigger met up with James Toseland from Toseland to talk about how his band started off, his motorcycle career and plans for the future.

When did you first start playing music and when did you realise you wanted to be a musician?
I lived with my grandparents when I was younger and my Gran played the piano so that’s where the fascination came from for wanting to play the piano and she started to teach me when I was 6 or 7 and then I started private lesson when I was 8 years old and then I had private lessons all the way up until I was 16 so yeah it was a good 10 years of studying music before joining various bands.

You have been into both music and racing for a long time, what made you choose racing over music all those years ago?
I was studying the piano for about 4 years before my mum met her new boyfriend who had a motorbike and that’s where it all changed as he bought me a motorbike at Christmas when I was about 9 or 10 and obviously riding a motorbike was cool whilst playing the piano wasn’t but I still kept it up because I enjoyed it even with all the grief my mates used to give me. But with getting a motorbike I could go out and be cool and then do my piano lessons on the side.

How did you find time to do both; it must have been crazy?
Yeah but to be fair the racing was just a weekend job and my piano lesson was always on a Monday night so time was always found, and when I was 16 years old doing motorcycle racing I started to beat the fella’s so they changed the rules for me as you had to be 18 years old to ride 600’s but because I was doing really well at it they changed the rules so I could race at 16 and it gave me the chance to showcase myself against the best in the UK and because I did so well I went straight to the world championships in 2 years and jumped the ranks really quickly and the motorcycle career just took off, I was doing my GCSE’s and I had just signed a contract to race across the world in championships, but I always kept my music on the side.

Obviously having to retire from racing must have been pretty tough for you but do you see it as a blessing in the way that you now on tracks to a successful music career?
I wouldn’t say blessing because I did 17n years of motorcycle racing and loved every minute of it and it was the perfect job, I was always so competitive as a kid and to have motorcycle racing as a job was perfect for me because not only could I win something but I could win something doing 200 miles per hour.

Yeah not many people can say they can do that.
Yeah it was just perfect, I did always want to keep my music up and I always did I also always wanted to write an album, so when it retired me at 30 instead of 40 I sat down for a few weeks and it was tough times but then I decided that it was time to go back to what I really should have been doing so I went to a hotel in Scarbourgh and started writing with Toby Jepson and changed from being this sportsman that I was back to the kid who loved playing the piano and started to become the musician again, it was like a strange but tough homecoming.

Who would you say your main musical influences are?
With this music and my album it was Toby Jepson, I saw him reform with the Little Angels in 2012 at Download and that was when I got the maximum impact of who I was writing with and who he was as they weren’t together when I first met him but 19 years on they reformed for Download and to stand at the side of the stage to see what he did and the music he had written I knew I was in safe hands.

When I really go back to when I started motorcycle racing it was bands like Queen as my mum’s boyfriend was a massive Queen fan and that pretty much escalated with the motorcycle industry and it was all the big names Guns N Roses, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi and so many other classic rock bands and I think that consciously ingrained itself in me because I used to do racing then come home and play ballads just to calm down, but when I didn’t have the racing I lost more from that adrenaline so playing the slow songs made me even worse so I had to pick it up a bit.

How did the band Toseland come about?
I was writing the demos and with Toby at that point I just wanted to write the best quality of music that I could and just produce my own album and hold a body of work that I had created and the thought of getting a band and touring after travelling the world after 17 years didn’t come in to it until me and Toby got quite excited about the demos and then Toby picked up the phone to some industry people he had worked with and said I think you are going to want to hear some of this and that started the ball rolling and an agent got involved and so did management and it was all Toby’s doing. I then needed a band, I had an agent and management but no band and then I met my wife and when I met my wife I met my lead guitarist as he was Katie’s younger brother. The first time I heard him he was practising in his bedroom and I said to Katie do you mind if I give your brother the demo and at that point I had only just started dating Katie and I gave the demo to Zurab and I said I was looking for a lead guitarist would you be interested in playing in the band and he was instantly interested, and at that point he was at ACM in Guildford and I said to him could you find 3 other guys as good as you on drums, bass and guitar and that’s how the band came about.

Fair play the band fell into place really well.
Yeah it really did.

You debut album ‘Renegade’ was released in March, how would you say it has gone down with your fans and the press?
We have got amazing reviews across the board; I have not seen a negative one yet which has been really nice. It’s good to think that only 6 months down the line and it has already been over 10,000 sales and doing it solely independently I feel really proud. And it’s good to be able to do the gigs and having the people who come out to the gigs and quite possibly have this as another career and quite potentially having 2 jobs that I love doing as jobs and not just a hobby. I always had to get the clique across of being a sportsman moving into the music industry and that’s why I worked so hard with Toby producing the best music we could as we knew there was no middle ground with it we had to come out with the best music we could and be really convincing and we are really proud of what we achieved.

What would you say your favourite songs from ‘Renegade’ are and why?
‘Just No Way’ started it all off as it is Toby’s song completely and is the only song on the album that was fully written by Toby whilst the rest are songs that me and Toby wrote collectively together, but ‘Just No Way’ was the tester song when I first went up to meet Toby as he didn’t really get this sportsman motorcycle racer who wanted to be a rock singer as he didn’t get the concept of it and he didn’t know anything about me and vice versa I didn’t know anything about him, so he was very frosty at first as he is very passionate about music and he wouldn’t write with someone who is a bit of a clique, so he gave me ‘Just No Way’ on an mp3 and said go away learn that and come back and sing it to me next week, so I came back played and sang the song and he said let’s go and have a coffee in his kitchen and that’s when he told me that he had been reading about me and he didn’t realise that music played such a big part in my life and that I was a musician first before a biker and that’s when he got it and it really kicked things off for us and then from there I brought some chords in which started ‘Renegade’ off and ‘Renegade’ is probably the most personal song on the album about a kid growing up in a Northern English town, the album is a bit like an autobiography as all the song titles have meanings like ‘Crash Landing’, ‘Renegade’, ‘Coming To get You’ etc. When I was speaking to Toby in the kitchen he was scribbling things down and it felt a bit like therapy.


He was jotting it all down and I didn’t realise but he was getting song titles from my life story.

You have played some massive shows so far such as your own headline shows, supporting Reef , Status Quo and also playing the Download festival but what would you say your main highlight has been so far?
Supporting the frantic four which was the original Quo line up so that was something special.

I can imagine that was epic.
Yeah it was to see those boys back together again and putting on such a good show and we got to play places like Wolverhampton Civic Hall which is just an epic venue. We also supported the Little Angels on a couple of gigs for the headline run when they reformed and that was special because I went from Toby kicking me out of the house with an mp3 to then being offered to support his band. Download was great, we also did Calling this year with Aerosmith so that was big gig for us, we also went to Italy with Sebastian Bach and Michael Monroe so we have had some really good opportunities and everyone has been really nice to us, Reef were great guys. We did find with supporting the Quo because our music is similar genres that we got a lot of their crowd coming to our own headline shows.

Your recent UK headline tour kicked off two days ago, how does it feel to be back on the road and how have the shows been so far?
It’s been great, we actually had Looe festival first which wasn’t one of the headline shows it was just a festival.

So yesterday was the start of the tour?
Yeah yesterday was the start and it has been great the room was really full and we got great Reponses and it seems that the audiences have really picked up and we have doubled on numbers on this run but this time you can tell that they have come to discover new music again, where at the end of the last tour we got to the stage where people were starting to sing along and have a party together.

If you met someone who had never heard of Toseland what one song would you ask them to listen to, to understand what the band are all about?
Depends who it was, if it was a 60-70 year old lady I might suggest ‘Just No way’ and if it was a young lad I might say ‘Life Is Beautiful’ as its more of a standalone track and one of the more heavier ones and it is really unique.

What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
We have 12 gigs in total on this run and we are going all the way up to Aberdeen which see’s us go to Scotland for the first time headlining and because it went so well with the quo in Scotland we are doing Glasgow and Aberdeen for the first time and going to finish off at the 100 Club in London. We have also been discussing being put down for a support slot in December with various different artists but we don’t have any names just yet, and if that doesn’t come off then I will just crack on writing songs for the second album as we already have two new songs featured in our set and myself and Toby already have so many ideas so we will just concentrate on that.

One last random question that we ask every band, if you could be an animal out of a zebra or Giraffe which one would you be and why?
Shit a Zebras of a Giraffe?

I think I will be a Zebra as Giraffes always looked a bit awkward and there aren’t enough trees on the planet for them to reach so there is no need for a neck that long anymore.


So yeah a Zebra for sure.

Thanks for your time is there a message for your fans reading this?
It’s just really nice to just be getting interviews as with my old job it was flat out with press and everything so to be getting interviewed for what I do now is great, we put a lot of work in the band are kicking arse and we have a lot of fun and I hope that everyone who comes out can see that we really enjoy it and we always stick around to meet people after the shows and most people say it’s nice to see a band who really enjoy themselves on stage as you know what it’s like when bands are flat out 150 gigs a year, but for us it’s still nice and fresh.

Interview by Trigger
 Band Members

James Toseland
Zurab Melua
Rebea Massaad
Dave Hollingworth
William Stokes
 Latest Releases

Toseland - Renegade
Release Date - 23rd March 2014

1. Life Is Beautiful
2. Gotta Be A Better Way
3. Singer In A Band
4. Crash Landing
5. Just No Way
6. Comin’ To Get Ya
7. Good Eye Blind
8. Kingdoms
9. Burning The System
10. Emergency
11. Renegade

 Band Related Links
Toseland Facebook