Good Souls; the Starsailor archive for fans.

Starsailor's Page ~ Volume 3

Diary entries and photographs, from their travels in 2007.

The diary entries below were written initially on the band's official message board during their assorted travels, studio exploits and band adventures. The full collection will be mirrored here for posterity.

From Russia With Love ~ By James Walsh, Monday 22nd January 2007

  What an amazing few weeks we have had!

Firstly we found a great little place near Henley to write and record songs for our next album. We are now in great shape with around 15 songs written but we will continue doing tracks until we are happy we have got the best songs we could possibly write. The last 4 tracks we did are called: 1) Let Go 2) Do You Believe In Love? 3) Won't Stop Now and 4) Change My Mind.

I think we have struck a great balance between our heavier side and our more emotional downbeat side. There are some stompers certainly but also the ballads are back! I can't wait for you to be able to hear some of these songs and we hope to be able to play them live for you in the near future.

Thanks to all the staff in the local pub who kept us fed and watered during the time we spent in Henley and also to Barriemore Barlow (drummer with Jethro Tull!) whose recording/rehearsal space we were using.

We then jetted off pretty much straight from the studio to Moscow for our first ever gig in Russia. We were really well looked after from the moment we stepped off the plane and we left Moscow with some very fond memories.

The promoter took us out for some great sushi (not something I would have thought Moscow was famous for!) and the crowd for the concert sang every word. Alcoholic was the highlight of the set, it being the most well known song in that part of the world although 'This Time' had a great response too.

A special mention also for the support band Blast who took us out to a club the singer owned in Moscow. Thanks to Mandie who came an awful long way to see us. I hope it was worth the journey? The Vodka was certainly flowing and the flight the next day was a bit of a chore, particularly for me who was sick as a dog!

The rest of the band decided to drink through it with hilarious results! I'll spare you the details. I very nearly missed the flight after I got lost the somewhere near the Kremlin the morning we were leaving. With my phone out of battery and very few English speakers I was in a bit of a panic until a kind lady in a near by Japanese restaurant gave me directions back to the hotel.

Many congratulations to our agent John Giddings and his new wife Caroline who got married recently. It was a great honour for myself and Barry to be asked to play at the service.

See You Soon,

James W  

Football matches, new songs, babies and weddings!
By James Walsh, Wednesday 7th March 2007

  Hi All,

While I have a bit of time on my hands I thought I would let you all know what has been going on recently in the world of Starsailor. We have completed another set of demos in Henley which produced 3 new songs. The one which everyone is raving about is called 'Lights Out' or 'Tell Me It's Not Over' (we haven't decided yet!). It's got a massive drum beat, reminiscent of 'Doves' and 'U2'. Another couple of these and we will have a truly great album.

I had a great time in Barcelona where I went to watch Liverpool play in the Champions League. It was particularly pleasing to find we were staying in the team hotel when we arrived! They were on their way over to the Nou Camp but I managed a quick word with Jamie Carragher and wished him well for the game. Later on in the evening we enjoyed a pint with Peter Crouch and Jamie Carragher's Dads who were over for the game with various members of 'The Coral'.

This week was 'Bring Your Dad to Nursery Week' although a little daunted by the prospect of a class full of unruly four year olds, I was asked to bring my guitar down and play a couple of songs. I played 'Yellow Submarine' and 'Octopus's Garden' introducing a new generation to 'The Beatles'.

This time next week I will be on my way over to the States to play SXSW. I will of course keep you up to date. I may even write a nightly report but that depends how exciting it is. Maybe I will just give you the edited highlights at the end.

So what about the rest of them? Well Barry is getting nervous and excited, as his wife Kelly is about to give birth. Ben is planning his wedding (to Kate) and looking after his property portfolio and Stel is enjoying some time at home with his family.

Catch up soon,

James  

Austin during SXSW is like 'Stella St' on a big scale!
By James Walsh, Monday 19th March 2007

  Hi Folks,

What a week! I am writing this while sat in LAX airport awaiting a flight back to Belfast via Heathrow. I have already passed through Austin and El Paso today. It's been a week of bands and barbecue food and I have enjoyed every minute. The best way to describe Austin during SXSW is that its very much like 'Stella St' on a bigger scale and with a few industry folk thrown in.

For example, I bumped into legendary photographer Pennie Smith during breakfast one morning, passed Damon Albarn on the hotel escalator and saw Wayne Coyne out on the street reporting for Jay Leno! I also had a good chat with Jamie T about the Texans' less than healthy, but very tasty, diet! He said he hadn't seen a vegetable that wasn't fried for a week!

I wandered into a pub and bumped into legendary Scouse songwriter Pete Wylie. We exchanged stories about watching LFC over the years.

First up for me was the gig at The Parish on Thursday night. The venue was packed and the audience was very receptive. I was amazed to learn that there was a queue down the street long before the gig started and many of the people I had invited simply couldn't get in! I ended the set with the new song 'Tell Me Its Not Over' and it went down a treat.

I travelled over on my own so I'd like to thank Steve and Em Nice, Keith Hagan, Seamus McLoughlin and John from Small White Light, for helping out tuning guitars, re-stringing and generally making sure I was where I needed to be at the right time. It was all very last minute so unfortunately Les couldn't be with me.

One of the highlights for me was being part of the Gram Parsons tribute. I have always been a big fan and I was honoured that his daughter Polly asked me to be a part of the event. The event was held a little out of town and it really felt like a hoedown. The musicians who backed up the special guests knew Gram's songs note perfect. Also in attendance were Oxford's own Goldrush, themselves big Americana fans.

The 3rd gig was on Saturday for a Paste Magazine party at a hotel called 'The Belmont'. Sometimes these things can be a little sterile but the crowd down there was anything but. There was a relaxed atmosphere and I even played a cover of Van Morrison's 'Wild Night' to mark St Patricks day. Thanks to Paste for asking me to play, I hope the free subscription is in the post!

That's another good thing about being an act at SXSW, all the free stuff! My highlights of the festival were Jamie T, Amy Winehouse and Badly Drawn Boy. Every year there is an artist that everyone is desperate to see and this year Amy Winehouse was the one.

On another note, thanks to everyone who came down to the acoustic gig in London the other night. It always starts off a little nerve wracking when I play on my own, but if the crowd are up for it, I start to relax. You lot were great, so I was absolutely loving it by the end!

I am nearly falling asleep while I write this (I got to bed at 4!) so I think its time to sign off.

Cheers,

James (tired but happy!)  

Swiss mountains, snowboarding fans and football legends
By James Walsh, 17th April 2007

  Hello All,

Well, its been a pretty hectic few weeks since I last wrote a message. First off, all the best to Barry and Kelly following the birth of baby Joseph. Hope you are all enjoying the first few weeks of family life.

Before the new arrival we managed to record a few more songs down in Henley. We are very happy with the results and once again, some of the songs we recorded could well turn up on the album or as b-sides. For the record, the tracks are currently called 'Rebel Blues', 'Miss You' and 'Here's To The Man'.

After a little break it was off to Zermatt for the unplugged festival. Accompanying us on this latest trip was none other than Mark Collins from The Charlatans. Although he is no stranger to the Starsailor set, it had been a while since we played with him, so we promptly booked a quick rehearsal (round Stel's Mum and Dad's!). Barry stayed at home enjoying some time with the new baby and Ben's magnificent drumming was sadly not in keeping with the semi-acoustic nature of the gig.

Following our arrival at Geneva airport we jumped on the bus (already stocked with beers!) and headed for the Swiss mountains. Many thanks to the organisers of the festival, particularly Heinz, who invited us to his magnificent Chateau and introduced us to none other than Frida from Abba!

That's not all, American songstress Suzanne Vega (who was due to play the following night) came down to the gig and shared a few glasses of champagne with us after the performance.

During the gig we slipped new songs 'Change My Mind' and 'Tell Me It's Not Over' into the set. They seemed to go down really well particularly 'Tell Me It's Not Over'. The reaction to it was even better than when we played 'Four To The Floor' which is a very good sign.

Stel's almighty hangover was soon cured with the excitement of the gig (ah, the healing power of music!). There was a very familiar face in the front row with a camera. We soon realised it was Belgium's biggest Starsailor fan Tina, who had snowboarded over for the gig from the other side of the mountain! (I did not know this was possible).

I will be meeting another legend on Friday (this time from the footballing world) Scottish international Gary McAllister. I am playing a little acoustic gig at Anfield in aid of the Marina Dalglish Appeal and Gary Mac is the guest speaker. The event sold out very quickly, so I am looking forward to playing the prestigious venue and helping a very worthy cause.

See You Soon,

James  

Water skiing to work off the Guinness
By James Walsh, Monday 21st May 2007

  Hello All,

First of all, I am really sorry we will not be able to take part in the Maxidrome festival in Russia. We were all looking forward to seeing another part of Russia after our successful trip to Moscow. This is an extremely frustrating time for a man whose bass guitar is basically an extension of his body! I'm sure you join me in wishing Stel a speedy recovery. Hopefully we can see the beautiful city of St. Petersberg very soon.

I was very pleased to be asked to take part in the opening of the 'Oh Yeah' Music Centre in Belfast. Apart from myself, Gary Lightbody, Elbow and Duke Special all took to the stage during the evening. James Nesbitt was also on hand for introductions, jokes and general merriment! This project is another indication of how far Belfast has come in the past couple of years and should ensure that Northern Ireland's rich musical heritage continues.

Having made the trip to Manchester for rehearsals (before I heard about Stel's untimely injury), I decided to spend an evening watching the rather excellent Cherry Ghost. With albums like Simon's (Cherry's real name) and Cold War Kids out there we are going to have to make a really special record in order to make our mark come the beginning of next year. We have a very good idea who we will be making the album with now and also where we are doing it but I have to keep my mouth shut until its 100% confirmed. It would be very interesting to see who you lot think it is and who you think it should be so feel free to speculate!

On a personal note I have recently taken up water skiing. If you are ever in the Port Glenone area on a Sunday evening and you see someone tied to the back of a boat listening to Johnny Cash it could well be me! I am trying to keep fit by doing that and also going to the gym, however I have also taken up Guinness so that kind of cancels it out! For those of you who will be in Athens on the 23rd of May I will be performing in one of the fanzones dotted around the Olympic stadium. I am looking forward to returning to the ancient city and seeing a good game of football.

Listening To:

  • Cherry Ghost
  • Rufus Wainwright
  • Cold War Kids
  • Radio Five Live
Watching:

  • Sky Sports News
  • Peep Show
  • Shirley Ghostman (On DVD)
Went to see:

  • 'The Lives Of Others'    
Dutch beer, The Rolling Stones & recording the fourth album
By James Walsh, Tuesday 19th June 2007

  Hello All,

We have been pretty busy boys since I last posted. After a well earned break (myself and Stel took our families to Majorca and Cyprus respectively) it was back on the road with a gig in Holland. Thanks to everyone who attended the 'Music In My Head' festival. The Hague is a beautiful place and we had a great time exploring the city and sampling the local cuisine - and of course the beer!

Anyway that was last week. I am writing to you now, sat in Paris Charles De Gaulle airport, awaiting a flight back to Belfast. As last minute gigs go it doesn't get much bigger than supporting The Rolling Stones! We were delighted to be asked to perform before the band in Frankfurt, Paris and Lyon. Although all the gigs will live long in the memory, Lyon was a particular highlight.

It was on this night that Ronnie Wood was spotted at the side of the stage enjoying the set and we also got a big thumbs up from Jagger who thanked us for appearing!

Next up is more recording. We are moving on from the demo stage now and we all hope that some of the recordings we complete over the next few weeks will make the final album. Where we are recording the album and who we are doing it with I'm sure will be revealed in due course!

Everyone is very excited (and a little nervous) to finally be back in the studio making an album. As far as speculation as to when the album will come out, it is too early to say. We may get in the studio and everything will fall into place or it may take a little longer. Needless to say the most important thing is that we make the best album we can possibly make (and hopefully a contender for album of the year!).

I hope to keep you posted on all the developments as we embark on this our fourth album.

May it be our best yet!

See You Soon,

James  

Looking forward to the tour, South America and Korea
By James Walsh, Saturday 29th September 2007

  Hello All,

Just thought I would drop by and tell you what we have been up to lately. Gig-wise we have been to Belgium, Loch Lomond and Hamburg (with The Stones).

First up was the Dranouter Festival in Belgium. Headlining a tent in front of around 15,000 people! The two songs which went down the best were 'Four To The Floor' and 'Tell Me It's Not Over'.

With the Loch Lomond live festival being in its infancy we were not sure what to expect. Despite the driver getting a bit lost, we arrived on site in good time for a leisurely boat trip across the river. There seemed to be a large amount of ravers on site so we were not sure how we would go down. Once again 'Four To The Floor' (The rave version!) and 'Tell Me It's Not Over' were the crowd favourites. With another studio session on the horizon we were very pleased by the reaction the song had been getting.

Then when we thought the gigs had dried up, we got a call from our agent telling us that The Stones wanted us! Due to Amy Winehouse cancelling, a support slot had become available in Hamburg.

Despite some initial sound problems, we ended the set on a high and we were very grateful for the compliments we received while out in the crowd watching The Stones.

I am writing this from Stel's computer in sunny Warrington. I am in town this week for writing/rehearsal sessions. Things are going very well at the moment and we should have some great new material to record when we go back to Henley soon. We have been working on the album with a very talented studio boffin. Steve Osborne (New Order, KT Tunstall and Love Is Here!).

I also headed down to V in Chelmsford. My two highlights were definitely 'The Coral' and 'Primal Scream'.

James

Update From The Studio:

We're also working with an engineer called George Williams, he has recently worked with Babyshambles who are regular visitors to The Doghouse. The weather was great the first couple of weeks so me and Ben had a leisurely dip in the outdoor pool. The food has been superb so many thanks to the chef Jim (although the mushroom risotto was a bit rich!). We are keeping up our fitness by having regular 5 a side footy matches though it is debatable whether this cancels out the regular trips to The Baskerville Arms!

Last but certainly not least we are very happy to have Rich Warren onboard in the studio helping out with guitar duties and jokes! The album is really starting to take shape and we are really happy with the results so far.

Looking forward to seeing you all some time during the tour and we are very excited about visiting South America (with The Killers) and Korea for the first time! We are certain to debut some new songs including 'Tell Me It's Not Over' which is already becoming a set highlight.

We are taking our time over this album but it will be well worth it in the end. There are some great new bands out there but I have to say I think we still have an important place within the UK music scene.

That's what we are trying to prove with this album, on our own terms.

See You Soon

James  

Why did we wait so long to visit South America?
By James Walsh, Friday 9th November 2007

  Hello All,

I am writing to you back home after a very enjoyable but pretty tiring South American Tour. The whole experience was amazing but here is a list of the highlights (in no particular order):

  • The crowds! (brilliant why did we wait so long to come here);
  • The exchange rate (very favourable, we all felt rich!);
  • JP and Annalia (our fantastic hosts);
  • Mario (our fantastic tour guide);
  • Travis and The Killers (two great bands to be touring with);
  • Captain Birds Eye (how did he get here?);
  • Diego Maradona (honest!);
  • The fans who greeted us at Santiago Airport;
  • The beef in Argentina (superb!);
  • The wine in Argentina and Chile (the best!)

James

p.s. enjoy the pics!  

Please click the photographs to see a larger view and use your browser's back button to return to this page.

Starsailor's South American tour is well received.  James on stage, click for a larger view. James with Andy Dunlop and Fran Healy of Travis.  James and Barry with Captain Birds Eye.   He's the one with the longest beard.  Click for a larger view.  The boys with Diego Maradona. Mario was their guide.  Stel practicing his South American attitude.  Barry can't bear to look.

Sweet Seoul Music ~ By James Walsh, Monday 19th November 2007

  Hello All,

What a busy fortnight it's been! We had barely touched down on home soil after our South American adventure when we were off on our travels again. This time we visited the South Korean city of Seoul.

As soon as we got to the hotel we were whisked off by the promoters for a traditional Korean meal. This was quite a challenge for those who prefer fish, chips and mushy peas! Even the more adventurous members of our party struggled a bit with the pickled jellyfish. The people were very hospitable and much of the food was delicious.

The following day Ben and me spent meeting the Korean press. We also went to the local radio station MBC, for a little acoustic session. The station was apparently inundated with good comments on the phones and via the website so job done!

Then it was off to sound check to meet the rest of the gang. We ran through the songs one last time with our temporary bass player Hamish Laishley (Itel was at home nervously awaiting the arrival of his second child). You may know Hamish as he's has been Itel and Barry's tech since the early days.

Then we were off for a Korean Barbecue. (They basically bring you different parts of a cow and you cook them on a barbecue in the middle of your table). After a good nights rest most of us met in the hotel lobby for a tour of the city. The highlights included a visit to a traditional Korean village, a Korean palace and the Seoul Tower. (Thanks to Miny from EMI Korea, and Justine our interpreter, who organised the tour and generally kept us entertained throughout the visit).

After our little bit of culture we headed off to the venue for the show. Before the gig we had the good fortune of meeting the acclaimed Korean Director Park Chan-Wook. His many films include the award winning 'Oldboy,' ('Bring My Love' was used as the trailer for this). The show itself was amazing. We were impressed with the crowd in South America but I think the Korean crowd was even better than that. They went absolutely crazy for every song!

We decided it was a fitting occasion to play a few songs which we haven't done for a while so 'Way To Fall', 'Telling Them' and of course 'Bring My Love' were all performed. This was also the first gig that we've ever used pyrotechnics. It was all very stadium rock and a lot of fun.

The party continued well into the night and into the early morning at a local bar near the hotel. A fitting way to end the 'Live' year apart from an acoustic gig at the Manchester Apollo for XFM. Many thanks to Korean John (I don't know his surname!) and all the people at 'In The Garden' who invited us to play the festival.

See You Soon,

James  

Please click the photographs to see a larger view and use your browser's back button to return to this page.

James and Ben at local radio station MBC, for a little acoustic session.  We were taken on a tour of the city.    The tour included a Korean palace.   We had the good fortune of meeting the acclaimed Korean Director Park Chan-Wook.    Hamish was our stand in bass player in Stel's absence.  Starsailor play our first date in South Korea.

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