James Toseland, lead singer with rock band Toseland chats with Kevin Cooper about touring with Status Quo, attempting to beat the land speed record in 2016, the release of their EP and their forthcoming tour.

If the name seems familiar it is because Toseland are a band fronted by double world superbike champion James Toseland. Throughout his career as a motorcycle racer, music was central to James’ life, so when he was forced to retire through injury, his journey into music started.

The release of Toselands debut album, Renegade, along with two years of constant touring supporting the likes of Aerosmith, Status Quo, Little Angels and Reef, together with playing Festivals such as Download, The Isle Of Wight, Carfest, Planet Rockstock and Silverstone Moto GP; has established Toseland as one of the most exciting new UK Rock acts.

Releasing a new EP, Hearts And Bones, it features their self-titled first single and another new song The Closer I Get. The EP also features a cover of The Teardrop Explodes classic Reward.

Whilst 2014 saw Toseland develop as a powerful live act, the band keeps the same core; James Toseland (vocals), Zurab Melua (Guitar), Ed Bramford (Guitar) and Roger Davis (bass). The band have recently welcomed new drummer Joe Yoshida.

About to embark upon a 14 date tour of the UK, James took time out from his rehearsal schedule to chat with Kevin Cooper, and this is what he had to say.


Hi James how are you?

Hi Kevin I’m not too bad at all mate, how are you doing?

I’m very well thank you, and thanks for taking the time to speak to me today.

No problem at all Kevin, it’s my pleasure.

I have been fortunate enough to see you perform twice now. The first time was last summer at Clumber Park when you supported Status Quo.

I remember that very well Kevin as it was a really strange scenario of Quo playing for the very first time without Rick Parfitt.

Well I have to tell you that there were some serious grumbles after the show (laughter).

I know Kevin but it’s always a shame when somebody falls ill, and Rick was seriously ill, bless him. It was not like he had got a common cold. Having any sort of a heart attack is a serious thing. Having said that, the Quo thing has been fantastic for us. We toured with the Frantic Four; the original four members of Status Quo, which was obviously brilliant, and they were amazing too considering that they hadn’t played together for many years. It was great exposure for us and the crowds were massive. It was really great for us to play in front of six thousand people Kevin, really great.

And then secondly I came along to see you in The Basement at Rock City.

That’s wicked Kevin as that was our very first sell-out gig. That was a really memorable moment for us all.

I have just got hold of a copy of the E.P. and after listening to it there are all sorts of things going around in my head which we will come onto later. However, I have got to say that you have covered one of my favourite songs of all time. Just what made you pick Reward by The Teardrop Explodes?

(Laughter) well I have to be honest with you Kevin and say that was actually down to the management. We were all sat around a table trying to pick a couple of songs to put into the set as we had only got the one album and for the time we spent on stage we really needed a couple of songs to throw into the set. It is always a difficult decision when you have to pick something that was both well-known and cool but is not too obvious and that you can put your own stamp onto it and do it your own way. After talking for a while, Reward came up along with Pump It Up by Elvis Costello (laughter) but we really enjoyed playing Reward and so we have stuck with that.

James, please don’t take anything that I say as an insult because nothing that I say is intended in that way at all. But when I have been listening to the E.P. two names spring to mind and I hope that you don’t mind me saying, the first one is Glenn Hughes.

OK Kevin.

And secondly Jimmy Barnes.

Hey wow Kevin, its good company (laughter). That is really lovely to hear, thank you very much. There have been a couple of previous comparisons, one was Myles Kennedy, which is also a great compliment especially as I am a massive Guns ‘N’ Roses fan and Myles is singing with Slash at the moment. It’s nice to get those comparisons, especially with people who are so well established.

You have mentioned Guns ‘N’ Roses and I have written down as I have been listening, Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Guns ‘N’ Roses.

Well if I can get anywhere near to any of those three Kevin I will be doing alright (laughter).

Your debut album Renegade was really well received in March 2014; is there a second album on the horizon?

Absolutely Kevin, yes. We have just come very close to doing a record deal actually, which is really exciting for us. So we are kind of in the midst of that at the moment. If that does happen then a decision will have to be made on whether they want the first album Renegade, or a second one. We have been busy writing and we are at least half-way through a second album. We have got the Hearts And Bones tracks on this tour, together with a couple of new tracks that we are going to introduce during the tour. So depending upon who wants what and when with regard to the second album, we will be ready for it.

The writing will most definitely be finished and we will be ready to go into the studio sometime this year to record the second album whenever somebody wants it recording. We will just wait and see what happens Kevin.

Are you ready and excited about the release of Hearts And Bones?

Yes I am, I am really proud of Hearts And Bones. They are really good kind of classical, up-tempo, good chorus tracks. The band love it which is the main thing, because you never know how things will be received within this industry. Whenever we play it live it has even more energy than it does on the record.

Are you ready for the tour?

Yes absolutely Kevin. We have been rehearsing for the past few weeks pretty much solidly. We have put together a brand new set, which is really our first one and a half hour set that we will be doing. We have got a fairly busy schedule with sixteen days on tour which includes fourteen gigs so we are only giving ourselves two days off so it is going to be quite intense. I am still driving the van and booking hotels (laughter). It has been hard work but the numbers are going great. After we sold out The Basement at Rock City, they have now moved us up to the larger Rescue Rooms which is a nice compliment and shows that we are on the up and that we have just got to keep our heads down and keep pushing.

And you have got yourself a new drummer, Joe Yoshida; how has he slotted in?

What happened with Joe was that he joined us to fill-in because my old drummer Matt (Eldridge) and his wife were having a baby. His wife was close to labour and so he didn’t want to risk being away from home by touring with us last year and so Joe filled in for him. Then after he became a dad he didn’t want to leave his wife and son at home by being on tour and so he told me that unfortunately he couldn’t commit to touring with us. It was a shame and also a very tough decision for him to make. So because Joe had done such a fantastic job when he sat in for Matt he was the obvious choice so I picked up the phone and offered him a permanent place with us, which he was over the moon with.

I am really pleased with the line-up now; it feels really solid and it feels like a band. It is going to be really exciting to have Joe behind us.

You played some of the big Festivals last year, including Donington and The Isle Of Wight, how was that experience?

It was really good Kevin. The Isle Of Wight was a real kind of road trip for us (laughter). When we were all sat on the ferry going over, it really did feel like our first overseas concert (laughter). I have to say that we did produce our best ever performance over at The Isle Of Wight although we did go onstage the same time as The Kings Of Leon went out onto the main stage which was a really tough time to go on (laughter). As much as anything it is all about perception at this time, just having the opportunity to play at these Festivals; to play in front of as many people as we can, and to showcase just what we do. It is all about trying to connect with people and get their support on-board.

Obviously to play the Festivals, together with supporting Status Quo, made it a great year for us last year, mainly because we played in front of a lot of people and it really worked for us.

I have to ask you about your wrist injury. Obviously it was the deciding factor when you retired from the World Superbike Championships. Does it hinder your keyboard playing at all?

To be honest Kevin yes it does a little bit. If you look you will see that I stand to the left of the keys because my wrist no longer bends left to right or up or down. Not being able to move it up or down knackered me on my old job so I just stand more to the left of the keys. Luckily all of my fingers are completely fine and so I just have to be a little more accurate with my playing. Without the freedom of movement in your wrist, you have to lift off the keys a lot more and then place them back down again. You just have to be careful that you don’t turn into Les Dawson (laughter). Although there may have been a few occasions (laughter).

I was really pleased that the injury didn’t take away my piano playing as well. It would have been really tough if I had lost both of my loves. I adore playing the piano just as much as I did riding a motor bike and so it is nice that I didn’t lose both, although it was at one point a close call.

Start-line or stage, which one gives you the biggest buzz?

Funnily enough Kevin, the anticipation before both events is quite similar actually. With the music it is a bit of a different vibe, as you are not quite sure whether or not the audience will connect with your sound, your music and your art. Whereas in motorcycle racing it is quite simple because if you crossed the line first then everybody loved you. If I crossed the line in sixth place then everybody hated me (laughter). Motorcycle racing was just a lot easier to quantify Kevin. However the music can be just as nerve-wracking because you simply don’t know exactly how it will be received. You are putting your heart on the line, and it is a taste thing, wondering if they are going to get it or not.

It is nice to have that anticipation, nerves and the buzz on something that you are going to be doing.

On the subjects of motor cycles, are you still intending to attempt to beat the land speed record later this year?

It has been postponed until 2016 Kevin but I will be testing the bike in May or June this year. The engine development has taken a lot longer than we first anticipated because it is a turbine helicopter engine. We have been trying to tame it and trying to control the horsepower of it, because it is over a thousand break horsepower. It is just about controlling it at the beginning to enable me to get the grip into the rear wheel. The electronics to enable me to do that have taken longer to develop than we expected. But we will be testing it sometime soon and we will be inviting potential sponsors along to RAF Bruntingthorpe Airfield near Coventry to see the bike in action. At least then everybody will be able to see that it is happening and that it is going to go ahead in 2016.

When I am going to be travelling at over 450 miles per hour I don’t want to be sat on the grid thinking ‘well we will just have to hold our breath’ (laughter). Well I don’t anyway (laughter). I feel comforted that the team want to get it absolutely right before we ship the bike over to America.

You are now mentoring youngsters who want to become motorcycle riders and racers. Is it nice to be able to give something back to the sport?

Absolutely Kevin. Like any sportsman, I never realised just how much experience and knowledge I have until I tried to pass it on. It is at that point that you realise just how big an inspiration and influence you can be to the kids who are coming up, not necessarily on how to ride a motorbike because they should have that pretty much sorted already. But I can help them on how to approach it and how to cope with the different pressures which they may be faced with should they come along. I love giving them a good old motivational talk. I think that everyone enjoys having someone at their side who says the right thing at the right time before they go into battle. It really can make a big difference. So yes, it has been really nice to be able to put something back in Kevin.

On that point James, let me say thank you for taking the time to speak to me.

It was my pleasure Kevin, no problem at all. We will have a drink after the gig in Nottingham. You take care. Bye for now.