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Fightstar are a British alternative rock band from Londonmarker, Englandmarker. Since their inception the band has comprised Charlie Simpson (vocals, guitar, keys), Alex Westaway (guitar, vocals), Dan Haigh (bass) and Omar Abidi (drums). Although generally considered a post-hardcore band, Fightstar are also known to implement varied music genres from metal, progressive rock and acoustic rock.The band currently release their music independently through their managements imprint label, Search and Destroy Records, which is distributed via PIAS Recordings.

During the band's initial emergence, they were faced with much scepticism due to Simpson's former pop career. However, they began to receive positive reactions to early live shows and their debut EP, They Liked You Better When You Were Dead (2005) was a critical success. Since then, their three studio albums have obtained top 40 chartings and critical praise. Indeed, debut album Grand Unification (2006) was regarded as "one of the best British rock albums of the past decade" by Paul Brannigan of weekly rock magazine Kerrang!. Scottish publication, The Fly, also said that the album "remains one of the 21st Century’s ultimate rock debuts". Nominations at the Kerrang! Awards for 'Best British Newcomer' and 'Best British Band' soon followed, before second album, One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours (2007), peaked at #27 on the UK Album Chart. The follwing year, a b-sides compilation album titled, Alternate Endings (2008) was released. The four-piece then funded and co-produced third album, Be Human (2009), which became their highest charting album after peaking at #20 in the UK.


Origins (2003 - 2004)

The band formed in the latter part of 2003 during a party at Simpson's Londonmarker home. He was then still an active member of chart topping pop band Busted. Drummer Omar Abidi had been completing a sound engineering diploma at college, whilst guitarist Alex Westaway had recently moved down to London after dropping out of university. Westaway had also invited old school friend, bassist Dan Haigh, who at the time was based in London working for a game development company.

During the party, an impromptu jam session took place. Playing Rage Against the Machine's song, "Killing in the Name" on a loop, they bonded and subsequently attended a gig a few days later. After the show, they went back to Simpson's flat and began performing on acoustic guitars and a v-drum kit, which led to their first song being written, titled "Too Much Punch".

In late 2004 Simpson had made the decision to quit Busted, stating he wanted to do something his "heart was in". In January 2005, the split was announced and the frontman immediately began playing shows with Fightstar. This was followed by the release of their debut EP in February which was recorded during 2004 whilst he was still a member of the pop trio.

They Liked You Better When You Were Dead EP (2004 - 2005)

Fightstar's debut EP, They Liked You Better When You Were Dead, was released on February 28, 2005, following a rapid promotional tour of the UKmarker. The release proved popular enough to warrant a reprinting on March 23, 2005. The first track, "Palahniuk's Laughter", enjoyed heavy rotation on music video channels and spent many weeks in charts based on video and radio requests. The track was originally entitled "Out Swimming in the Flood", but was renamed after the 2004 tsunamimarker. The EP was heavily influenced by the author Chuck Palahniuk, with the band naming a song after him ("Palahniuk's Laughter") and including a drawing by Westaway of Edward Norton's character in the film adaptation of Palahniuk's novel Fight Club.

The release was via the band's own imprint label - Sandwich Leg Records which was distributed through Universal Records. Soon after the release of the EP, they signed to Universal Island Records and started recording their first full length LP.

Grand Unification (2005 - 2006)

The band during an in-store signing in 2006
Fightstar went into the studio in October 2005 to start work on their first full length offering. They re-recorded four songs from their debut EP, which were 'Mono', 'Hazy Eyes', 'Lost Like Tears In Rain' and 'Paint Your Target'.

The band's first single, "Paint Your Target" was released on June 13, 2005 in the UK, peaking at #9 in the singles chart. Their second single, "Grand Unification Part 1" was released on October 31, 2005, and peaked at #20 in the UK singles chart.

A new version of They Liked You Better When You Were Dead was released in early 2006 through Deep Elm Records in America. This version contained nine tracks as apposed to the UK's six.

In March 2006, they were listed by the US rock magazine Alternative Press as one of the 100 bands to watch for that year.

The band released their first full-length album on 13 March 2006 through Island Records, entitled Grand Unification. Produced and mixed by Colin Richardson (Bullet for My Valentine, Machine Head, Funeral for a Friend), the album entered the midweek’s at #11 and ended up debuting at #28 in the UK charts. Grand Unification was released in America in March 2007, along with a full US tour.

Further singles taken from this album were "Waste a Moment", "Grand Unification (Part 1)" and "Hazy Eyes". The band also played a slot at the Download Festival at Donington Parkmarker Race Track and also headlined the Sunday of Welshmarker rock music festival The Full Ponty under Biffy Clyro and Funeral for a Friend. Fightstar toured with Funeral for a Friend for three months in 2006 covering such places as Australia, Japanmarker and the United Kingdom.

They have also covered Metallica's "Leper Messiah" and Deftones' "My Own Summer" for Kerrang! magazine free CD giveaways during 2006, as well as covering Deftones' "Minerva" acoustically, which is available on the 7" vinyl version of the "Waste A Moment" single.

The band released Grand Unification, in the US and Canada on April 17, 2007. The release differs from the British and Japanese versions by including the "Hazy Eyes" B-Side and "Fight For Us" as a 14th track.

One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours (2007 - 2008)

After leaving Island records due to a disagreement over the bands artistic direction, Fightstar signed to an independent label called Institute Records which was a division of Gut Records to release their second album.
Lead vocalist, guitarist and co-songwriter, Charlie Simpson in 2009

The band hit the road for an extensive tour beginning at Glasgowmarker Barrowlandsmarker on October 8, 2006 with a supporting cast including The Blackout, The Receiving End of Sirens and Oceansize.

They recorded One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours in LAmarker with producer Matt Wallace who has also produced Faith No More, Satchel, Deftones and Sugarcult. The album was released on September 24, 2007.

The first single from One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours was called "99". It was released as a free download-only single on 23 April 2007, and is available from a microsite, launched by Fightstar. The music video for "99" was shown on Scuzz TV and Kerrang TV.

The second single to be taken from the album was "We Apologise for Nothing". The single reached number 1 in the UK Independent Chart. The music video for the third single, "Deathcar" was made available on the band's MySpace on 22 November 2007. Although appearing to be a low budget video, the version on MySpace is an edited, "clean" version. After the release of the "uncut" version of the video on 28 November 2007, Charlie Simpson confirmed via a live forum chat on the band's official website that due to the last minute planning to release "Deathcar" a budget of only £500 was available. The band however confirmed they are "100% happy" with the shoot and enjoyed the change of making a lo-fi video. "Deathcar" went on to debut at #2 on both the UK Indie and Rock Charts.

The fourth single, "Floods" made its debut at No.3 in the UK Indie Chart. They also performed BBC Radio 1 live sessions on this single campaign for Colin Murray and Dan P Carter. The band went on a 10 date UK tour during May with support from London four piece Brigade and unsigned Essex band We Are The Ocean already confirmed. The tour included a date at Carling Academy Islingtonmarker on 29 May, and at the Leeds Slam Dunk Festival on 25 May

The last single from the album was titled "I Am The Message". It was released on 16 June 2008 as a double A side single with the other side being the bands cover of "Waiting For Superman", which was recorded for the Colin Murray Show on Radio 1. This was the band's first single to be added to the Radio 1 playlist.

Alternate Endings (2008)

On 11 August 2008, the band released a b-sides album called Alternate Endings. It features a selection of the band's b-sides, live radio sessions, covers and a previously unreleased track.

Then, at Download festival 2008, the four-piece told press they would be returning to the studio in August to start recording their next album due for early 2009 and that they already have at least four songs demoed. The album’s name was confirmed as Be Human. The band recorded a cover of "Fear of the Dark" for an Iron Maiden cover CD called Maiden Heaven: A Tribute to Iron Maiden, featuring various artists, which was given away with the July 16 issue of Kerrang! magazine.

They also headlined the Rocksound Cave stage on the Saturday at Guilfest, and headlined Greenbelt festivalmarker's Mainstage in 2008.

Due to Gut Records going into administration at the end of 2008, Fightstar decided to put out their new album Be Human on their own, in a joint venture with their management company Raw Power on a label called Search and Destroy. The new record was distributed through PIAS Records. In an interview Charlie Simpson said "This was something that we had always wanted to do and figured this would be the perfect time to do it. It is an exciting prospect to be able to own the rights to our own record with the music industry changing at such a rapid pace, I think it's something that more bands will be looking to do in the future."

Be Human (2008 - present)

Lead guitarist and co-songwriter, Alex Westaway
Fightstar released their first single from the new album Be Human, "The English Way", on 3 November 2008 and it reached number 1 in the UK rock chart. The video was played on Kerrang! and Scuzz T.V. stations and also reached number 1 on the MTV2 top 10. The album was co-produced by the band along with Carl Bown, in Bown's state of the art Chesterfield based studio; Treehouse Studios. In interviews leading up to the album release, the band commented that the new record would be "quite different" from their previous releases. Charlie Simpson stated they wanted to experiment with more of a "rock opera" sound including full strings and choir. However, he also pointed out that although it may be different, it will remain Fightstar and still include their trademark dark and heavy elements.

The band supported Feeder for the first part of their UK tour, which started on 21 October 2008. Drummer Jason Bowld had filled in for drummer Omar Abidi on their UK tour, while he recovered from a broken wrist. Abidi returned to touring with the band early in 2009. Due to Abidi's hand injury, Simpson filled in to play drums on six tracks for the new album.

Next single, "Mercury Summer", was released on 6 April 2009, as announced on their MySpace page on 2 February 2009. Tracks include; Mercury Summer, Athea, We Left Tracks Of Fire, Mercury Summer (Acoustic) and Mercury Summer (Nero vs. Ohms remix) which was half produced by Abidi. Athea being a b-side to the physical cd and We Left Tracks Of Fire a b-side on the 7" Vinyl, all available to purchase online at various online stores and websites. Later that week on 4 February, they announced a 12-date UK tour with support from In Case of Fire and Laruso. The video for "Mercury Summer" debuted on their MySpace page on 25 February.

The reception for the single was extremely positive, with the song reaching the A List on the Radio 1 Playlist and remaining there for 4 weeks. It was also received well after the band featured on BBC2 music show Sound. "Mercury Summer" was also added to the daytime playlist at XFM Radio and was picked for Ian Camfield's Record of The Week. Emma Scott and Kerrang Radio station also made "Mercury Summer" her Record of The Week.

On 7 April 2009 the NME website announced that Fightstar were to perform at the Download Festival. Then on 26 May 2009, it was announced by the official website that Fightstar will also be playing the main stage at the Reading and Leeds Festivals.

On 9 April 2009 the final album version of "Colours Bleed To Red" was played on the Colin Murray show. Murray said about the previous single "Mercury Summer" "It's only when you hear it in the context of the album that it makes total sense.' 'It's actually a little bit more experimental while at the same time being a bit mainstream" he also said that Be Human is "Quintessential Fightstar with all these new parts to it. Very impressed with it indeed."

It was then rumoured that, Be Human, would be re-released in late 2009 and it is believed the new, deluxe version could contain four or five new songs. One of the new songs could be a cover version of Jordin Sparks' "Battlefield," which the band performed informally earlier in the year in the BBC Radio1 Live Lounge. The cover was met with great approval and Sparks herself said on radio that she was a fan of Fightstar and believed they should cover the song.

On the 12th October the band posted pictures on their myspace site from their latest music video shoot for new song "A City on Fire". The song subsequently was played for the first time during Fearne Cotton's show on Radio 1 on October 19 and the offical video premiered on the bands MySpace on October 24, which was directed by the team at Sitcom Soldiers. The single will be released as a digital download on December 7, while the band have since confirmed the deluxe re-release of Be Human will be available in February 2010.

Musical style and influences

Fightstar's sound has generally been regarded as "post-hardcore". The genre is described as a "balance of dissonance and melody, in part channeling the loud and fast hardcore ethos into more measured, subtle forms of tension and release". Charlie Simpson has echoed this sentiment by describing the bands musical aim as trying to "combine the light and dark shades, to make something utterly brutal and really heavy, and on the other side have something really delicate and beautiful. The fusion of those things is what Fightstar does."

Their music has also been described as "alternative rock" and more recently, containing "experimental" tendencies with third album, Be Human implementing choral and orchestral elements. The band states they are largely influenced by film scores, as well as artists such as Deftones, Radiohead, Silverchair, Pantera, Mono, Explosions in the Sky,, The Cure, and Jeff Buckley.

During 2009, Kerrang! Magazine wrote about the band, "Backed by bassist Dan Haigh, guitarist Al Westaway and drummer Omar Abidi, their first EP demonstranted a love of post-rock, a sound that has shaped their subsequent releases despite moves into more metallic, hardcore and now inventive rock territory. It's been an impressive journey for Simpson, first regarded with scepticism to one that is now thought of as the leader of one of the country's finest rock bands. It's been a voyage achieved through the sheer love of what he does, combined with hard work and a thick skin.


Official Members

Record Labels




Title Award Nominated work Result
Kerrang! Awards Best British Newcomer Fightstar Nominated
Kerrang! Awards Best British Band Fightstar Nominated


Year Album details Peak chart positions

2006 Grand Unification 28
2007 One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours
  • Released: September 24, 2007
  • Label: Gut, Edsel
2009 Be Human 20


  1. NME (Magazine) 12 February 2005, p.38 Exclusive! The First Interview
  2. Alternative Press (Magazine) April 2006 #213 FIGHTSTAR
  3. Outburn (Magazine) July 2007 #39, p.30. "Our whole aim in music is to combine the light and the dark shades"

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