What They Went To School For: Busted Interviewed

An intimate - and hilarious - Q&A...

The year is 2004. I am in my bedroom with my twin sister cutting out pictures of James Bourne from my Mizz and Smash Hits magazine (she is cutting out pictures of Matt). We are then using our plastic badge-making-machine to turn them into Busted badges that we will proudly wear on our jackets. What a time to be alive. Fast forward a couple of months, I am seven years old and my parents are sneaking me out of school for a ‘surprise’. We jump in the car, drive to Wembley and as we pull up outside I see the sign, the sign that is still imprinted in my memory to this very day. 

‘Busted: Live! A Ticket for Everyone’. 

My parents have snuck me out of school to take me to my first big gig, to see the loves of my life, my gateway to punk music and the three men that taught me how to fall in love.

But despite it being the best night of my life and little seven year old me remembering every last second of that show, what about the repercussions of bunking off school? Busted were the reason I skipped school that day and that’s not very in keeping with their song ‘What I Go To School For’. Now jump forward twenty years, I’m at my still-loving-Busted-age of 26, it makes me wonder what they went to school for. Did these heartthrobs get in trouble? Were they kissing girls behind bike sheds or knuckling down and getting straight A’s? Were they as shit at sport as I imagine they were?

The trio are releasing their new yet nostalgic album ‘Greatest Hits 2.0’ and are joined by an array of (99% male) stars such as McFly, Bowling for Soup, James Arthur, Hanson, and The Vamps. Their career has seen them become one of the biggest boybands this planet has known, with their faces plastered across bedroom walls (mine included) since their conception in 2000. With hits like ‘Year 3000’, ‘3am’ and the iconic ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’, it does make you wonder how they got to where they are now. If I was bunking school at seven years old to see them in person, what on earth were they getting up to at that age?

Here, as my inner child pisses her pants with excitement, I sit down with Busted and find out exactly what they went to school for…

Starting off easy, what were your favourite and least favourite subjects at school?

Matt: Oh God. I didn’t really like anything at school. I actually physically hated school… hated everything about it, but I did like English. I went to theatre school when I was like 14, and we had an English teacher there called Mr Macyntire who introduced me to Shakespeare but made it really fucking cool and attainable. I was introduced into a world, well, I’d never read a book in my life until I met him. Brilliant teacher. But I was terrible at Maths.

I think everyone’s a bit shit at maths, are they not?

Charlie: Yeah, I’m shit at Maths! But James is good at maths

James: Yeah, I like maths, and music, and art, and PE. But I hated Geography. But the thing is, I like the map of the world. I like…

Matt: You like to play with a globe!

James: …I like studying the geographic globe but I don’t want to count cars in a carpark in those weird Geography assignments.

Matt: Yeah, and like, random rivers.

James: I don’t care the demographic of people walking down a high street.

What was the most trouble you got into at school?

James: So much trouble. So much trouble. Once, it was on the last day of school, and there was an art room sink which was huge and the entire class, well, we put this guy in the art room sink, got out all the powder paints and turned the taps on. He came out multicoloured! Everyone was in so much trouble.

Matt: Err… well I got expelled from school…

What did you do….

Matt: For selling cigarettes.

Oh that’s fine! That shows your entrepreneur skills and using your initiative.

Matt: Yeah I know right. But I got chucked out of school.

Charlie: I nearly got suspended because, well, me and my friends were talkingabout buying some weed. We never actually did, but one of the sixth formers overheard us talking about it and told the head teacher. 

So they overheard you talking about weed…

Charlie: We were going to buy some weed. But didn’t actually buy the weed. We got in trouble for talking about weed. 

Imagine how much trouble you would have got in if you actually bought the weed?!

Charlie: Exactly.

Well, I guess you would have been stoned so you probably wouldn’t have given a shit anyway

Matt: Haha yeah!

You’ve got a lot of big artists featuring on your new album such as McFly, The Vamps, Hanson etc. Imagine it’s PE day, and you are picking your football team. Which band or specific artists would you want on your team?

Charlie: So, I know that Danny from McFly and James Arthur have both done that Soccer Aid thing. So I would want them on my team. I would probably want Jaret from Bowling for Soup in goal.

Matt: Do I have to play?

Well, I mean, I guess you don’t have too…

Matt: Well, I don’t want to play. I learned from a very early age that nothing good would come from me playing football.

James: I pick myself as manager of the team.

Matt: I’ll be the cheerleader.

When you were at school, did you have any embarrassing nicknames?

Matt: I was called ‘Scrumpy’, and a lot of people still call me that now

Wait, Scrumpy? Like the cider Scrumpy Jack?

Matt: Yeah, because I used to get pissed on Scrumpy Jack cider all the time.

Ah, that makes sense

Matt: And yeah, they still call me ‘Scrumpy’ even though I’m like a 40 year old man now. And ‘Moley’ as well because I had a mole.

James: *shouts* MOLEY!

Matt: What about you James?

James: People just used to call me by my surname. Yeah, I got balled ‘Bourne’ everywhere I went.

Matt: Bourne.

Charlie: Bourne.

You got off lightly.

Matt: Charlie, you’ve had some good nicknames.

Charlie: My nickname was ‘Simmo’ which is quite boring because of my surname Simpson.

Matt: The boys call Charlie ‘Chazwick’.

Charlie: Yupp, ‘Chazwick’. Matt calls me that.

James: What’s up with people putting ‘O’ at the end of names?

Charlie: Yeah, I got ‘Chazmo’.

Matt: ‘Chazmo’?!

Charlie: Nicknames are funny, man.

Matt: ‘Chazmo’?!

James: My PE teacher called me ‘Bourne-O’.

That’s a stretch.

Charlie: My son got upset the other day because his guitar teacher called him ‘Simpsybobs’. Yeah, he didn’t like that at all.

I’m not surprised.

Matt: My biggest… what do you call it… ick?

Ick yeah, that’s the word.

Matt: When people call it ‘holibobs’!

But I say ‘holibobs’!

Matt: Don’t say ‘holibobs’.

Holibobs. Well, actually, I started saying it ironically and now it’s kind of part of my vocabulary.

Matt: I hear it all the time in the airport. ‘Off on holibobs’…

James: Yeah, I don’t like ‘holibobs’.

Okay back to school. School was full of very embarrassing memories. I’m sure everyone has them. I’m going to share my second most embarrassing memory with you and then I want you to share your most embarrassing memory

Charlie: Why are you only sharing your second?

Because my first one is top tier mortifying and I don’t know if I can bring myself to share it with Busted…

Charlie: Oh…

Okay, well maybe if your ones are really, really good then I’ll tell you my number one. But my number two, we were playing tag Rugby in PE in like year four, and there was a boy I really fancied. I went to pull the bib out of his shorts and accidentally pulled his whole shorts down in front of the class. I was mortified, and obviously ruined any chance of being his girlfriend. Now your turn…

Matt: I actually did a similar thing to that with a boy called Michael Poecock. We were playing Bulldog, and there were two lines of us opposite each other and there were boys and girls in each one. He was in front of me, and I pulled his shorts down but his shorts AND pants came down and his willy was out in front of the whole other team.

Oh my God, so we have both done the same thing! 

Charlie: When I was 11, I’d never kissed a girl before, and I had a girlfriend. Her friends kept saying ‘he doesn’t want to kiss you because he’s frigid’, you know, the word ‘frigid’?

Eurgh, unfortunately yeah.

Charlie: And I was basically being coerced into kissing. And I thought, ‘I need to do it because I don’t want everyone to think I’m frigid’. But I didn’t know what I was doing, so I was freaking out. Then everyone was standing around us and her friends were around us saying ‘you’re frigid, Charlie’. I was like ‘no I’m not! No I’m not!’ and then I just went for it.

Oh no…

Charlie: In broad daylight. In front of everyone. They were all like ‘what the fuck is going on’. Then I was like ‘SEE!’


Matt: *kids voice* ‘See! I’m not frigid! I poked her eyes out with my tongue!

Charlie: The pressure was so big and I remember after that thinking ‘I’ve done it now… pretty cool’.

Matt: Then he just started snogging everyone!

Ha! It was a slippery slope after that! And what about you James? Share an embarrassing memory with us!

James: Hmm.. most mortifying experience. Well, we played a game called short cricket and it was indoors. It was my favourite game to play. I hit the ball, and then I got caught out first round on my first bat. I hated that because…

Charlie: Wait, that’s the most embarrassing thing that happened to you??

Matt: Yeah, what??

That’s not that embarrassing! That’s fine! I swear that happens to everyone – everyone is shit at cricket!

James: Yeah, but it was my first hit!

I mean, if that’s the most embarrassing moment of your school life, you got off really, really lightly.

James: Yeah, but people laugh at you when you get caught out on the first bat. People laughed, people laughed at me!!!

Matt: I never played PE. I was always the chubby asthmatic kid –

Ha! Shit, sorry Matt. I didn’t mean to laugh directly in your face as you said that!

Matt: Haha, yeah! *points at me* HAHA!

*Nelson Muntz impression* ha-ha!

Charlie: I always felt sorry when we would have to pick teams and someone would be left at the end. It was so harsh.

Matt: I was never last, I was always like third from last.

James: Once I picked teams and there was this kid who was the ‘star’ who used to win like everything. I was selecting the teams and I was like “I’m not going to pick this guy, I’m going to pick all the other players and I’m going to put together a team that will defeat him… the guy that wins everything”.

And did you ‘defeat’ him…?

James: Yes we did!


James: To be honest, the other person picked terribly. And because the other person was so bad at picking, this star guy was like 5th or 6th to be picked.

James, I’m not going to lie, your school experience sounds a lot nicer than ours. We all had actual, genuine, embarrassing stories and you seemed…fine?

James: You see, there was only six people in my class when I was age 11-12.


James: Yeah, it was a very private school and you know they take the register…oh wait… this actually is an embarrassing story! I do have one! 

When I changed schools at 13, I was finishing off my GCSE years at a school next door. I was used to the class being six people that school everyday for like two years in a row. For register, the teacher would come poke his head round the corner and be like ‘yup you’re all here, great’. That’s how he would do the register. But when I went to the school next door, there were 30 people in the class. Now, I’m at the top of the register because my surname begins with B. We are sat in alphabetical order in columns going down and I remember, it was my first day at a new school, and the guy comes in to do the register. He calls my name first like ‘Bourne’ and I look around the class and I’m like ‘errr, yeah, everyone is here’. And yeah, he went absolutely ape shit.

Okay, that is quite embarrassing. Fair enough. Right, now, what advice would you give to your younger self at school?

Matt: ‘Don’t worry. It’s not very long’. Like, I hated school and I couldn’t wait to finish and it feels like ages. Being 11 and thinking ‘God, I’ve got the whole of secondary school now…’

James: This is the advice I would give to myself. I would have brought other fun activities to do in the subjects I didn’t enjoy. I feel like school can be such a waste of time. I remember watching the clock go by and spending a lot of time in lessons doing nothing. I felt I could have found a way to keep myself entertained or you know, found a way to enjoy that time more. You could cover a book that you really want to read in wrapping paper and no one would have known what you were reading. I would say if there’s a subject you hate, find a book you do want to read and read that instead.

That’s pretty nice advice. I like that. What about you Charlie, what advice would you give to yourself at school

Charlie: Buy bitcoin when it was really cheap.

James: Haha! That’s your advice?

Right, if you guys could now talk me through the best school trip you have ever been on or your best school trip memory

Charlie: My first gig was Perens 98 which is a summer festival. The guy who had just become head of music really liked getting bands together, and he really pushed us towards Alternative music rather than classical. And doing that first gig…

Matt: What’s really funny is at my school, we never did anything like this. But I go to my daughter’s school for things with all the parents…

Charlie: They spend a lot of money on them!

Matt: They spend fuckin’ loads of money. There’s booze and food and shit and like you sit in a marquee and watch terrible people get up and do music. And then someone will come on and you’re like ‘they’re great!’. I remember three girls got up and did that ‘hey sister, soul sister…’ the Moulin Rouge song. It’s a bit… yeah. It’s really weird. But anyway, every school trip for me was to Hampton Court Palace. 


Matt: Hampton Court Palace.

Oh, I don’t know where that is or what that is.

Matt: It’s like Henry VIII’s house.

Charlie: We played there a few years ago!

Matt: But yeah, every school trip it was like ‘oh, we are going to Hampton Court Palace again….’. But it’s cool now.

Why? Because you guys played there?

Matt: Ha! I mean, it’s weird, because kids now are learning cool shit. When my kids bring home homework and I ask what they are doing I think ‘that’s so cool!’. I wanna learn about fuckin’ Russia and stuff like that. Stalin!

James: I feel like now I would be better in some subjects.

Matt: I’d love to do History now.

James: Yeah, I think I’d enjoy History more. But as a kid, you don’t want to do that as much. I think a lot of it is about who the teacher is. Sometimes someone is easy to listen to, or you just want to listen to them. School is weird.

Charlie: It’s interesting with History because I remember learning about inflation in the second World War and thinking ‘why the fuck do I need to know this, this isn’t going to happen again’ and then it’s happening right now! Inflation is literally surging because of war. History often repeats itself so I think History is a very good thing to learn.

Matt: I’m just looking at my podcast app right and everything I listen to is History and Science


Matt: If I had been on it, I could have been a fucking scientist!

You’re talents are wasted in Busted.

Charlie: James, what was your favourite school trip?

James: Honestly, we did a great school trip once to Disneyland Paris.

Matt: WHAT?

What the fuck?

Matt: The six of you??

James: Yeah, we went to Disneyland Paris, we went to Space Mountain and all the fun rides… it was a great trip. 

I’m sorry James, but that’s called a holiday.

Matt: Was it girl and boys?

James: All boys. And then the second school I went to had girls as well but they were all girls that had been bullied at their previous school, they had like facial hair and stuff.

Matt: So you didn’t go there and go like ‘woah, girls’.

James: What’s funny though, because like there were like four girls that none of them you’d want to go out with, you kind of ended up zoning in on who the hottest one was out of those four girls… Then in a weird way, that girl kind of became hot. There wasn’t a lot to look at in my school.

Well at least you got to go to Disneyland with your school so you were occupied with other things. So quit your moaning.

Busted’s new album ‘Greatest Hits’ is out September 15th. You can pre-order the album here.

Words: Jazz Hodge

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