From Deftones to Jon Hopkins: The icons who inspired Charlie Simpson

Between Fightstar and Busted, Charlie Simpson is a lord of both alt.metal and pop-rock. Where does he get it from? Nu-metal, grunge, and vibey electro, mainly…

From Deftones to Jon Hopkins: The icons who inspired Charlie Simpson
Emily Carter
Fraser Taylor

Since breaking into music as a literal teenager with Busted, Charlie Simpson has been a gateway musician for people, inspiring thousands of listeners for over 20 years. Now, as Fightstar reunite to headline Wembley, the multi-faceted artist looks back at those who’ve made the same impact on him

1Chino Moreno, Deftones

“It’s just everything about him! Deftones are my favourite band, and I’ve always loved Chino’s vocal delivery. He was the one who really opened my eyes to being able to have aggressive and melodic vocals at the same time; I hadn’t really heard a band do that before I heard [1997 album] Around The Fur. Chino would bring out the most incredible melody in those choruses, and it set the scene for an entire new world of heavy music. Korn and the whole nu-metal thing did that, too, I guess, but the melodies weren’t like Chino – they weren’t these proper, incredible, banging choruses. It really set me on a journey which has been a huge fabric of my musical make-up since I was a teenager.”

2Jon Hopkins

“He’s an electronic artist and a producer. He works with a lot of artists, and actually did a lot of work with Coldplay, doing their electronic soundscapes when they started doing stuff with Brian Eno. I’ve got into quite a lot of minimal tech dance music recently – atmospheric, ambient electronic music – and Jon Hopkins was basically my catalyst. He released an album called Singularity a few years ago, and you know how certain albums come along, maybe about 10 times in your life, that absolutely bowl you over, and open you up to an entire new landscape of music? He did that for me. He’s doing stuff that I have never heard before. It’s so interesting, and pushing boundaries beyond what’s out there at the moment. He’s one of those artists that will stay with me for a very long time.”

3Jackson Browne

“My dad got me into him when I was younger, and that’s something we really share together. He’s an amazing lyricist – he’s responsible for The Eagles becoming massive, because he wrote Take It Easy. And Springsteen’s a huge fan. He’s one of those artists who has had a big impact, because some of the artists that he’s inspired have gone on to sort of become a lot bigger than he is. Every time he comes to the UK I go and watch him with my dad. He’s been a big part of my musical life.”

4Daniel Johns, Silverchair

“I remember watching Headbangers Ball when I was 10 or 11. I remember hearing their song Pure Massacre, and just being blown away, man. I think he was 15 when they got signed, and I remember thinking, ‘Wow, how awesome to be doing that.’ I started in the music industry when I was 16, so he sort of gave me inspiration to start young. I also used to play PRS Guitars purely because he did! They did a rendition of Tomorrow on the roof of Radio City Hall as part of the VMAs – back when the VMAs were good! It was really cool back then, and that performance is seared into my memory. He’s been a big, big inspiration.”

5Justin Vernon, Bon Iver

“I just love his soundscapes, man. When I first heard Bon Iver it got inside me, to my core. Everyone’s tastes are different, but then you have something that just aligns all the things you love about music, and it sinks into one thing. When you find that artist, it obviously has a big impact, and Bon Iver was one of those for me. I love Justin Vernon’s vocals, and I love the fact that he takes influence from stuff that I loved back in the ’80s, like Bruce Hornsby. He takes something like that, and sort of modifies it into something that’s new. I can definitely hear where his tonal palette is coming from, and it resonates with me because I love that stuff.”

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