Trigger met up with James Toseland from Toseland
to talk about how his band started off, his motorcycle
career and plans for the future.
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.
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.
did you find time to do both; it must have been
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
play the band fell into place really well.
Yeah it really did.
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.
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.
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
Supporting the frantic four which was the original
Quo line up so that was something special.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
for your time is there a message for your fans
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