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Jake Bugg

July 19 2013

HE is in London about to buy a guitar at a price that – after tax – rivals my annual salary.

And it’s not the first time that Jake Bugg has forked out a few quid for a vintage six string; in Nashville he paid $20,000 for a 1954 Fender Telecaster.

This time it’s a 1955 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop.

Still, when you’ve sold 800,000 copies of your debut album, what are you going to spend it on? And there’s wisdom in these purchases.

“Investments, man,” says the 19-year-old, whose return to Nottingham today is one of only a handful he’s managed this year.

“It might be a kid’s education,” he adds, looking toward a future that seems a long way off. For now it’s music that dominates the life of Jake Bugg.

So is that his thing, collecting guitars?

“No man, I just want something that sounds amazing. The guitars they made years ago... some parts you just can’t make anymore.”

Of the Gibson, he adds: “Any guitarist wants one. And it’s an investment. I can’t lose any money on it. It won’t deteriorate in value.”

He won’t be locking it in a vault but using it for recording and on stage.

“They’re meant to be played. But as much as I love them and want to play them, if I was ever in financial need....”

It doesn’t seem likely the way his career is going.

“You never know,” says Jake, who already knows he will be busy with recording and touring commitments well into next year.

His first guitar, given to him by his uncle Mark when he was still at school was, he reckons, about £30.

“I had that fixed up because it has a lot of sentimental value,” he says.

And he still has the Yamaha acoustic his mum bought him (£50, if memory serves), on which he wrote most of his self-titled debut album.

“I don’t take that on the road because I don’t want it to get broken.”

Since the No. 1 album in October there’s been a tour with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, shows with the Stones Roses, tours of the US (where he appeared on national TV and the album reached the Billboard Top 100), Europe and Japan and he’s halfway through recording his second album with legendary producer Rick Rubin, the man who revived Johnny Cash’s career with the series of American Recordings albums.

He’ll be returning to Rubin’s studio in Malibu at the end of August.

He has said that the album is going well but he needed to write more upbeat songs.

“Yeah, I could do with one or two but I’m not struggling,” he says, casually.

The album will reflect what he’s experienced over the past year.

“I’ve met a lot of people and heard a lot of crazy stories,” he says.

“I’ve just been writing about that.

“It would be very dishonest of me to talk about smoking and drinking and stabbings in car parks... I’m not saying that’s all that goes off in Notts because it’s not.

“But I’ve not spent much time at home because I’ve been travelling around.”

He adds: “I’ll never forget where I’ve come from.”

So he’ll be singing about buying expensive guitars and sunning himself on a California beach?

“Certainly not,” he replies before adding, “It is an inspiring place to write, though.”

Musically will it be similar to the debut that showed his love of 60s and 70s singer-songwriters like Donovan, Dylan and The Beatles?

“It’s hard to explain because I just write the songs,” he says.

“I like it. Whether everyone else thinks it sounds good... that’s up to them. I’m making the record I want to make. If people like it then great but, if not, I’ll just keep making records.”

This summer has been a busy one already. When we speak he’s just returned from Portugal. Last weekend he was at T In The Park and supporting the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park.

Prior to that it was Glastonbury.

“It was the biggest gig I’ve ever played,” he says of his second set on the Pyramid Stage, which was watched by an estimated 40,000 people.

Then he remembers there were 80,000 people at the Stones gig.

“That was the most amount of people I’ve played to but they were there to see the Stones. I told the band ‘when you get on the stage just think that no one knows who we are and if one person claps it’s a bonus’.”

Does he get nervous playing to so many people?

“It is a big crowd but they all look the same after the first few rows,” he says, with characteristic cool.

Does he scan the crowd and see how people are reacting?

“I’ve played those songs a lot of times so you’ve got to keep yourself occupied,” he jokes.

“It is interesting to see what people’s reactions and expressions are to certain songs. That helps you to develop your set.”

He describes the Glastonbury experience as “a bit mad.”

Says Jake: “Two years ago I played the smallest stage and then ended up on the Pyramid. That’s pretty cool.”

He’s been open about his dislike of festivals and didn’t make an exception for Glastonbury by only staying for his two sets.

“I had to get off anyway,” he says. “I’m doing festival after festival all summer.”

Although Glastonbury was bigger, Jake enjoyed T In The Park.

“The crowd appreciated it that much that it sent shivers up my spine, which was dead weird.”

The same may well happen today, playing the biggest stage in his home city.

“It’ll be the first festival I’ve headlined as well so it’s a massive thing for me. But as much as I’m looking forward to it and excited about being a headline act I’ve got to treat it like any other gig and play the way I play. I’ve got to give it 100 per cent, stay focused and try and give the folks a good show.”

He doesn’t mean his folks, although they will be there.

“They’re all coming down and it’ll be nice to see everyone. There will be a lot of people who want to chat and I want to be able to chat to everyone but I can’t really stick around that much because I’ve got to move on to the next show. But I will try my best to see everyone.”

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