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Interview: Alistair Griffin

7 min read

Alistair Griffin was first introduced to us through the now defunct reality show Fame Academy. In 2003 he was one of the shows most memorable contestants and his success on the reality series helped him produce his debut album in 2004 titled, Bring It On. 8 years have passed since that debut and we haven’t heard much from Alistair in that time.


Alistair returns to the recording world this year with a follow up to that 2004 release. Albion Sky is a record that showcases an artist who has learned a lot over the years professionally as well as personally as the singer lays down a series of tracks that swing from dark and doom to bright and bubbly. Just Drive is the lead single from the new album and has been written for this years Formula 1 becoming the sports theme song.

With patriotism running thick this year with so many proud events happening in the capital Alistair sat down with Brendon to talk about his return to music, why it has been so long between releases and his plans for the patriotic months ahead.

Brendon Veevers: How are you doing?

Alistair Griffin: Yeah pretty good

BV: You are out promoting your new single Just Drive which you have recently released. You must be quite busy with the promotion?

AG: Yeah I have just been on This Morning which was fun. I was at the British Grand Prix at the weekend, performing and I have got Hard Rock Calling and Guilfest next weekend.

BV: So quite busy then?

AG: Yes, very busy!

BV: So lets talk about Just Drive because it is the Formula 1 theme song. Talk us through how that came to be?

AG: Initially I sent my album to a friend of mine who actually works in Formula 1 and he said “Why don’t you write a song, a driving song?” and I left it bubbling away for a while and I thought that there hasn’t been anything like that for some time and they are generally American about driving across America or something so I pitched something in and it got used, it go picked up by one of the TV channels and it became a bit of an underground hit with Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and things like that and then Sky picked it up as their overall theme tune.

BV: Was the song specifically written for Formula 1 or is the title of the track just a happy coincidence?

AG: Kind of. I already had the Just Drive bit but when I found out there that was an opportunity for it to be used and to get it to a wider audience I started to think in terms of Formula 1.

BV: Are you a fan of the sport?

AG: Yeah, I’m a bit sort of sports fan generally but I’m a more of a casual observer of motor sport. Over the past couple of years I have become more engrossed in it but the coverage is fantastic. For a lot of years to a lot of people it was just a lot of cars driving around a track but now its incredible interactive.

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BV: Your new album is called Albion Sky. Talk us through the album and what fans might expect?

AG: Albion is like an old poetic term for Britain. I wanted it to sound, and it does sound, quite British which is obviously a good time with the Olympics and the Jubilee.

BV: So a little bit patriotic?

AG: Yeah, its sort of about the past, where Britain has been and a little bit about looking forward to the suture but yes, Albion Sky is kind of about exercising the ghosts of the past and looking to a new beginning.

BV: So would you say you have been doing a lot of that lately?

AG: Yeah I would say I have actually.

BV: It has been quite a long break between releases. Your debut album Bring It On was release back in 2004. After eight years out of the spotlight, what was it that made you believe that now was the right time to for a follow up?

AG: I had a bit of time after the first album and a bit of a lull. I went on tour with Robin Gibb across Europe which was a lot of fun and I worked with him over a couple of years. Then, as the music industry can be sometimes, a bit of a baron period and to be honest I went back to Yorkshire and started writing songs for other people and set up a recording studio and so for the best part of 4 or 5 years I’ve been busy writing my own material and that’s what Albion Sky is.

BV: So people will be most familiar with you as a contestant on the second series of Fame Academy in 2003. How do you think you have grown as an artist since appearing on the show?

AG: I think songwriting is always going to be at the heart of what I do. It has always been substance over style, always. I think with a passage of time you get so much more experience and I think the more songs that you write the better you become. I think musically it’s a quantum leap forward from there and its more sophisticated and lyrically there is more substance to it and basically, its much better.

BV: Your first album was quite a rushed product to capitalize on Fame Academy. Do you feel more at ease to have been able to take the last eight years to grow as an artist and create this new record?

AG: Yeah, that was a rush. You’re right, you have to capitalize and it was rushed out in a matter of weeks. I had the songs a long time but the production was done in a completely different way whereas this was really sort of thought out and I have been involved in the whole production of it, 3 or 4 I have produced myself. It’s nice to have that control over something where if it sounds bad then it’s your fault.

BV: There is a song on the album called Silent Suicide. Can you tell us a little about the track as it sounds quite dark and perhaps not the kind of song that fans may come to expect from you.

AG: Yeah, its funny because I remember when I wrote it and it wasn’t a song that the suits at the record label or managerial people thought “yeah that’s commercial” but I remember the first time I played it and people loved it. It was a song that I was cautious about because the title sort of suggests what it does and it is a dark song. It sort of reflects on a bit of a dark time but ultimately it’s dark then uplifting. It’s surprising as its one of the songs I get the most comments about and feedback from because people seem to really like it.

BV: So how has the reaction been to the finished product?

AG: It’s been great to be honest. I remember someone saying to me – “If you’re going to come back from the wilderness, you’ve got to make a brilliant musical album” and I completely stuck to that. I didn’t want to do 2 songs and 10 fillers, I wanted to make something that was 12 great songs because you know – that’s what I’m supposed to do. I think people in general connect, perhaps not to every song, but the response has been good anyway.

BV: You worked with Ed Buller on the record who has worked with a lot of music’s top players. What was that like?

AG: It was great to work with someone like that because he’s completely different from what I’m used to . He is very hippy-ish so he sort of let let it all evolve as it happened so it was really nice to work with someone who is a bit different so everything was quite raw and we just pulled it all together at the end until we had this record and I have never worked like that before.

BV: So, you are performing at Hard Rock Calling. Are there any other performances to promote the record?

AG: There’s Guilfest the day after and we are sort of penciling in some dates. Nothing is concrete yet but I’m planning something else, no one knows this yet but it’s sort of a mystery tour.

BV: So what else have you got planned for the rest of the year?

AG: Well, another single. I think I’m playing at a couple of the Grand Prix’s around the world – hint hint. Probably continue writing some more stuff. I’ve written a song for the Olympics which is in the melting pot at the moment so I can’t say too much.

BV: So it’s a very patriotic year for Alistair Griffin?

AG: Yeah, I’m a British artist who makes British pop music and it is just a good coincidence that we are all feeling quite British at the moment.

BV: Thanks for talking to us.

AG: Thanks

Alistair Griffin’s new album Albion Sky is out now