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Starsailor are an Englishmarker alternative rock band formed in Wiganmarker. As of 2009, they have had four charting albums and ten Top 40 singles in the UK since 2001.

Early history

Although they claim to be a Wigan band, only one member is actually from the town. The band met whilst studying a music course atLeigh College (Railway Rd Campus). Prior to this, singer James Walsh attended St Michael's CE High School in Chorley, Lancashire, whilst Byrne and Stelfox went to school in Warrington. Only Westhead is from Wigan itself.

Bassist James Stelfox and drummer Ben Byrne had been playing together in the north west of England for a number of years. When their regular singer fell ill, they recruited young singer and songwriter James Walsh from a school choir. He was influenced by Jeff Buckley and his 1994 album Grace in his singing style. Comparing it to Oasis' Morning Glory? album, which Walsh says sums up a unique moment, Grace captures every moment.

The band, then named Waterface, had tried a number of guitarists before they asked long time friend Barry Westhead to join the band in 2000 on keyboards. He had been teaching Judo and playing organ for a church near his hometown. His arrival has been heralded as the most significant event in the band's formation. Walsh also took up the guitar, following frustration over not finding a musician right for the group. The band started to build up a reputation, and their name changed to Starsailor after the 1970 album Starsailor by Tim Buckley.

A journalist from NME saw a gig in 2000 and gave the band a glowing review. "One live encounter was enough to convince many sceptics that here was a band who were genuinely special, blessed with a singer whose voice thrummed like an emotional telegraph wire, that swerved the pitfalls of indie melancholia and were clearly in love with rock’n’roll and all its possibilities." Their performance at the Glastonbury Festivalmarker added to the band's reputation and led to a bidding war amongst UK record companies.

The band signed with EMI, the label that a relative of one band member worked for, in 2000. In 2008, in a re-organisation, Starsailor were moved to Virgin Records, a division of EMI.. They played a concert in Wigan in April 2009 at the Tavern pub in front of just 200 - this was the first time they have actually played in the town.

"Love Is Here" Era

"Fever", the band's first single, was released in early 2001. The song, and its two B-Sides "Love Is Here" and "Coming Down" were cut from a demo recording session in mid-2000. All three tracks went on to feature on Starsailor's first album Love Is Here, but the latter two were re-recorded.

March 2001 saw the band sell out their first UK Tour, which consisted of eleven dates in England. Their second single, "Good Souls", was released in April and featured a cover of Van Morrison's "The Way Young Lovers Do" as a B-Side. During this period, the band were recording their debut album in Rockfield Studios, Wales. By this time, the band were already previewing many of the album's tracks in their concerts, most notably "Poor Misguided Fool", "Lullaby" and "Way To Fall". An acoustic version of "Alcoholic" appeared on a promotional CD for NME magazine earlier in 2001. The original release date for the album was August 2001.

Further live dates came supporting the Manic Street Preachers in Glasgowmarker, as well as Doves on their North American tour. The band also marked their first festival appearances, playing at events such as V Festival and Germany's Rock im Parkmarker. "Alcoholic" appeared as the third single to be taken off their debut album, and its number ten chart position remains the band's second highest placing to date. The single version was actually an extended version of the album track.

Their album Love Is Here reached number 2 in the UK album charts in October 2001, after receiving great critical acclaim. Combining a mix of acoustic guitar and Walsh's beautiful vocals, critics said the songs leave the "hairs on the back of your neck standing."

The year ended with the band winning the "Brightest New Hope" award at the NME Awards, and the release of their fourth single, "Lullaby", which reached number thirty-six. Some fans complained about the difficulty in attaining copies of the single.

The band played the London Astoriamarker on February 4 and 8, 2002. The first date was a concert in aid of Warchild, and also included Travis and Ryan Adams on the bill. The 8th saw the debut of "Born Again", which would eventually be released as a single. The concert is notable since the band were joined on stage by two backing singers and a cellist. James Walsh told NME.COM after the show that he thought the gig was "amazing, something really special" while bassist James Stelfox said it was "one of the greatest ever." This flirtation with these additional voices and a cello only lasted a brief period of time.

The middle of 2002 saw a feud between Walsh and Noel Gallagher of Oasis. Gallagher had called the Starsailor singer a "cock" in an interview for NME magazine, something denied by the accused. However, when Walsh confronted Gallagher at the T In The Park festival in 2002, Gallagher claimed that if he said it, then it must be true. Noel's brother Liam got involved, allegedly squaring up to Walsh on the same day. In live shows following this, most notably at the 2002 V Festival, the Starsailor front man announced, "It is nice to be good, and good to be nice." Gallagher went onto declare that the incident was "the most fun Walsh has had in his life." The feud was resolved at Glastonburymarker in 2004.

Peter Kay joined the band on stage at their 2002 Christmas Concert held in Warringtonmarker's Parr Hall.
James Walsh

Silence Is Easy

Starsailor teamed up with Phil Spector for their second album Silence is Easy, which was recorded in Los Angelesmarker. The collaboration came about following Spector's daughter Nicole attending one of the band's American concerts in the Winter of 2002. Spector is said to have been fascinated by Lullaby, the band's fourth single. After meeting the producer, the band agreed to work with him on their second album. However, the collaboration was short lived; sessions at London's Abbey Road proved difficult. Spector is said to have dismissed Ben Byrne's drumming, as well as proving difficult to work with. Only two tracks made the band's second album, "Silence Is Easy"—one was the title track, the other the soaring White Dove. The band co-produced seven of the other tracks with Danton Supple and former Stone Roses and Radiohead producer John Leckie was brought in to see over the recording of "Shark Food". The first single was Silence Is Easy, which made the Top Ten (#9, the band's highest placing). The album charted well, but sales were sluggish in comparison to the band's first album. The release dropped out of the Top 40 rather promptly.

A full UK Tour began in Autumn 2003 shortly after the release of the album, culminating at London's Brixton Academymarker. The show featured the only known performance (at least until their American tour on 2006) of "Restless Heart", the closing track on the Silence Is Easy album. Mark Collins, from The Charlatans joined Starsailor for all dates between August 2003 to December 2004, playing additional and lead guitar

The album spawned just three singles; the second of which, Born Again had evolved from a B-Side to Poor Misguided Fool, released in early 2002. The song was re-recorded for the album, and cut down for a radio edit. Four to the Floor, which was also remixed by Thin White Duke, became a popular club hit. Walsh wanted the track to become the band's "I Am The Resurrection"; something to be played in "Indie discos everywhere".

On The Outside

EMI allowed the band plenty of time to record their follow up album; having targeted producer Rob Schnapf to produce it, the group relocated to Los Angeles to record. Five possible titles appeared; (Faith, Hope, Love/Here I Go/Ashes or In the Crossfire/I do not know/Counterfeit Life), but the band settled for "On The Outside", a statement of their position in the music industry. The sound was different from the previous two releases; it was far heavier than its predecessors. Starsailor had always received praise for their live sound, but the releases seemed "puny" in comparison, admitted Stelfox. The recording was all done to tape, and the band did not use Editing software such as ProTools to "perfect" the recording. Byrne later remarked that his drum-track on "White Light" took a long time to nail; highlighting the band's desire to make the record they were truly happy with.

Starsailor released their third album, On the Outside, in the UK on 17 October 2005 from which the first single from the album, "In the Crossfire" was taken. Critics raved about the release, with many citing it as a return to form. Despite this, promotional appearances including a short live set and signing at London's HMV Oxford Streetmarker did not aid sales- the album charted at number 13.

Since September 2005, Richard Warren joined the band when playing live, aiding Walsh with additional guitar, vocals and also harmonica parts. Again, the band's UK tour ended at Brixton Academymarker. Following that, the band toured Europe, playing several dates in France, where "Four To The Floor" was a number one hit in 2004. Following the Paris concert on April 3, Walsh and Warren were the DJ's at the Aftershow party.

The album has spawned three singles; "This Time" and "Keep Us Together" followed "In The Crossfire". Despite promoting the single with appearances in London and Leeds, "Keep Us Together" was the first single not to reach the UK Top 40. The promotional video for "This Time" appears to be a cultural reference to the film Run Lola Run, but may not be intentional.

Starsailor played numerous festivals in the Summer of 2006; most notably "Hyde Park Calling" on July 1, 2006, alongside Roger Waters, and the V Festival, which is held in Stafford and Chelmsford. They also supported the Rolling Stones on their "Bigger Bang" Tour in Munichmarker, Hamburgmarker in 2006 and again in Frankfurtmarker, Parismarker and Lyonmarker in 2007.

The summer also saw the announcement that On the Outside would be released by Artists Addiction Records in the USA on the 22nd August, with American dates including New York on 09/11/06.

In the autumn of 2006, Starsailor toured North America, playing both headlining shows and supporting James Blunt, in January 2007 they undertook their first trip to Russia, playing in the B2 Club of Moscow. According to the band's official website Barry Westhead's partner Kelly gave birth to a baby boy on April 12, 2007. The baby was named Joseph. Bass player James Stelfox became a father again in 2008, when his partner gave birth to a girl, named Ella, in November while the rest of the band were doing their first trip to Korea.Starsailor was named the replacement for Amy Winehouse as the support act for The Rolling Stones on the German leg of their tour.They were opening for the rock legends for the first time in Hamburg. Front man James Walsh told BBC 6 Music: "We heard on Sunday evening, our agent gave us a frantic call, and asked what we were doing this week, fortunately we had a week off!"

In late September - early October 2007, the band (in their original four-piece line up) played a mini-tour in support of the Fairtrade Charity. The shows consisted of an acoustic set by Walsh, then a full band electric set, which began with 'Poor Misguided Fool'. New songs 'Boy In Waiting','All The Plans We Made' and 'Tell Me It's Not Over' were played at these shows.

To end 2007 James Walsh played an acoustic set at XFM Manchester's Winter Wonderland at Manchester Apollo on Tuesday 11 December 2007, which featured a spectacular version of 'Four to the Floor', combined with extracts from Gorillaz track 'Dare'.

All the Plans

In 2007, Starsailor began recording demos for the follow up to 2005's On The Outside. Their frontman, James Walsh, referred to their first single,"Tell Me It's Not Over," as:"The one [demo] which everyone is raving about is called "Lights Out" or "Tell Me It's Not Over" [we have not decided yet!]" and added, "It's got a massive drum beat, reminiscent of Doves and U2. Another couple of these and we will have a truly great album." Based on what James Walsh has said, the new album will have "struck a great balance between their heavier side and their more emotional downbeat side. There are some stompers certainly but also the ballads are back!".In an earlier post the band said that they had written 15 songs for the album, and demoed the songs "Let Go", "Do You Believe In Love?", "Will Not Stop Now" and "Change My Mind"."Rebel Blues", "Miss You", "Here's To The Man" and "Let Go" were also mentioned at that point as possible tracks.

In an interview with Manchester Evening News in September 2007 James Walsh admitted that he wants Starsailor to be bigger and more successful. He also added that the fourth album had "a lot of soul" and that they've "tried to write classic songs, work the sounds around them, instead of experimenting too much".
"Even if there isn't a particular theme to the new material "married life and international politics are some of the key ingredients among the 16 songs which have been recorded to date".
James Walsh

Starsailor started to play in various gigs during the months recording their fourth album. James Walsh also played at several events in 2007, like the SXSW festival in Texas in March 2007, and an acoustic show in London on the 12th of March. The show is notable for not having a setlist; rarities such as the hardly played "Restless Heart" was played, due to a request from the front row. In addition to this he played the song "Tell Me It's Not Over", the track from the work-in-progress fourth album (early arrivals saw Walsh soundcheck half the song).Walsh and Stelfox played an unplugged set on the 13 April 2007 in Switzerland with Mark Collins of The Charlatans. They played 2 songs that will probably be on their fourth album.

Further support in Europe for The Rolling Stones took place in mid-June; these were late additions, and fitted in with the band's festival schedule. The previous concert before the Stones' support was in Den Haag, Holland; the band debuted the first full-band version of "Tell Me It's Not Over".Starsailor had embarked on a tour of the UK during October 2007 in support of Fairtrade. They have debuted a number of new songs during the tour as "Boy in Waiting" and "All the Plans". The lyrics for "Tell Me It's Not Over" had changed considerably since the first time they've sang it.

Their first travel to Latin America was confirmed after a long time of speculation about it. Starsailor supported The Killers on November, 2007 on their dates in Argentina and Chile and opens the possibility of more dates that they could make by their own in other countries of the region. During their performance on October 30 in Buenos Aires they were received by about 200 fans. They sang "Tell Me It's Not Over" and also "Boy in Waiting".

In another interview, this time with the Chilean newspaper La Tercera, they announced they'll present the song "Tell Me It's Not Over" officially for the first time in public.Starsailor was invited by The Parlotones to Johannesburgmarker on October, 2008 playing with this gig on every continent ."

In January 2008 it was confirmed that Starsailor would play on June at the Isle of Wight Festival on the last day, with The Police headlining on that date. They also played at Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park the same month with The Police as headliners. They also confirmed that they would play at "Rockin" Park' in Holland on Saturday 28 June, on the third day of the 2008 Cactus Festival at Minnewaterpark, Brugge, Belgium on Saturday 12 July, and the Open Air Gampel Festival in Switzerland on Saturday 16 August.On December 2007 it was published on Youtube a video named "Santa Walsh is coming to town" which shows frontman James Walsh playing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" on the studio set of their fourth album.

On February 25, 2008 Starsailor played an acoustic set at an intimate central London location where they added to the setlist three new possible tracks: "Walk These Wet Streets" (released on the album as 'Hurts Too Much'), "Keep The Blues Away" ('The Thames') and "Stars & Stripes".

On September 19, 2008 Starsailor performed for the second edition "Stars of Europe" concert at Brussels in support of UNICEF where they covered U2's single "All I Want Is You"

Later it was confirmed that Steve Osborne is the producer of the album. Steve Osbourne has also produced Starsailor's first studio album.On March 20, 2008, frontman James posted on the official Starsailor forum announcing the album had been completed.The Sun revealed on April 2008 that Ronnie Wood from The Rolling Stones had agreed to work with the band on their new album after an approuch with lead singer James Walsh.

On October 16, 2008 it was officially confirmed that the new album will be called All The Plans and will be released in March, 2009.."On December 3, Boy In Waiting EP was released as a free digital download for those who pre-order the deluxe edition of All The Plans.. It contains three of the tracks that couldn't make the album.

The album debuted at Number 26 in the UK Album Charts on March 14, 2009, while 'Tell Me It's Not Over' spent one week in the UK Singles Chart, reaching Number 73 and peaked #5 in the Belgium Charts becoming Starsailor's most successful single in that country.On May 20, 2009 Starsailor was named Hard Rock's Philanthropic Artist Of The Year in recognition of the work they've done in support of the Caron Keating Doundation, the AECC of Barcelona and Nordoff – Robbins Music Therapy, as well as having contributed an exclusive cover of Military Madness by Graham Nash to the World Hunger Year Serve3 Charity album..


James Walsh is FC Liverpool supporter and Byrne is Manchester United F.C. supporter, Barry Westhead is a Wigan Athletic fan, whilst Stelfox attends Manchester City games frequently. The band were on stage at the Astoria, London on May 25, 2005, when United won the 2005 premiership; Byrne proceeded on jumping at the front of the stage having found out the result. James Walsh followed FC Liverpool when they won 2005 Champions League in Istanbul and sang at Liverpool TV show two songs, the first one was "We all dream of team of Carraghers" and the second more famous was "Fields of Anfield Road". He was also singing in Liverpool Anfield café couple of songs for the fans. One of the songs was "We won it five times" and "Ring of fire" cover from Johnny Cash.

Use in soundtracks

  • The song "Four to the Floor" was remixed and included on the soundtrack to the film Layer Cake.
  • "Keep Us Together" has been used frequently by Match Of The Day.
  • Before they were released as singles, Sky Sports used instrumental versions of "Four to the Floor" and "Keep Us Together" as background music for various televised International Cricket tours.
  • The BBC also used an instrumental version as the background music for the Commonwealth Games 2006 interactive service.
  • The song "I Don't Know" from their On the Outside album was featured in the second season of Veronica Mars.
  • The song "Some of Us" from their Silence is Easy album was featured in the fifth episode of Bones and in the Belgian film The Alzheimer Case.
  • The song "Way to Fall" from their Love is Here album was featured in the ending credits of video game Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.
  • A music video of "Bring My Love" is featured on DVD 2 of the 2 DVD set of Oldboy, released in Germanymarker and Austriamarker. The video consists entirely of clips from the movie.
  • The song "Faith Hope Love" from their On the Outside album was featured in Season 2, Episode 5 - Aftermath of Criminal Minds and Season 3, Episode 12 of One Tree Hill.
  • The song "Tie Up My Hands" was featured on the Television Show Trigger Happy TV.
  • The song "Rise Up" was recently used on the finale of hit US TV show Eli Stone.
  • The song "Shark Food" was used in the German soap opera "Anna und die Liebe" (episode 155).
  • The song "Tell Me It's Not Over" was used by BBC One as the background to its two-minute showreel of new drama for Autumn 2009
  • The song "Good Souls" was used in a poignent moment in the documentary Mayor Of The Sunset Strip in which the subject, L.A. disc jockey and scenester Rodney Bingenheimer, takes his mother's ashes to London to be scattered at sea.

  • The song "Tie Up My Hands" was featured in trailers for the film 25th Hour, although the song does not appear in the film itself.
  • The song "Silence is Easy" was used in Season 1, Episode 3 of One Tree Hill
  • The song "Faith Hope Love" was used in Season 3, Episode 12 of One Tree Hill
  • The song "Neon Sky" was used in Season 6, Episode 13 of One Tree Hill
  • The song "Safe at Home" was used in Season 6, Episode 24 of One Tree Hill
  • The song "You Never Get What you Deserve" in Season 2 Episode 18 of Greek soap opera "Ta Mistika tis Edem"

Band members

As of 2000, the band consisted of:

Regular Additional Performers:
  • Mark Collins - (Additional Guitar and Vocals, 2003-2004, 2006)
  • Richard "Echoboy" Warren - (Additional Guitar,Vocals and Harmonica, 2005-2006)
  • Pete Greenwood - (Additional Guitar, 2008 - )




From Love Is Here:
  • "Fever" (B/W "Love Is Here", "Coming Down") (05/02/01) #18 UK
  • "Good Souls" (B/W "The Way Young Lovers Do") (23/04/01) #12 UK
  • "Alcoholic" (B/W "Let It Shine", "Grandmas' Hands") (17/09/01) #10 UK
  • "Lullaby" (B/W "From A Whisper To A Scream", "Tie Up My Hands" (Live KCRW)) (10/12/01) #36 UK
  • "Poor Misguided Fool" (B/W "Born Again") (18/03/02) #23 UK

From Silence Is Easy:
  • "Silence Is Easy" (B/W "Could You Be Mine", "She Understands") (01/09/03) #9 UK
  • "Born Again" (B/W "At The End Of The Show", "Silence Is Easy" (Live 2003)) (17/11/03) #40 UK
  • "Four to the Floor" (B/W "A Message") (01/03/04) #1 FRANCE, #24 UK

From On the Outside:

From All the Plans:


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