Crooner and Twitter provocateur James Blunt speaks to ShortList about his guilty pleasures, World War 3, and the truth behind that Ed Sheeran, Princess Beatrice sword story.
You were there when Ed Sheeran’s face was cut, allegedly by Princess Beatrice as she went to mock-knight you. What actually happened?
Ed was drunk, messing around, and he cut himself. We made a fancy story up; people fell for it. It was very embarrassing.
How much of it was made up?
All of it. Apart from the actual scar. It’s bizarre that people fell for it. I blame him. He must be desperate – he’s trying to sell records.
Were you even there?
Yeah, but I didn’t do it! He cut himself and I just patched him up. It’s made him look prettier.
Your new album The Afterlove begins with the line, “People say the meanest things. Yeah, I’ve been called a dick, I’ve been called so many things.” What’s the story there?
It’s about the abuse I get along the way. People do say the meanest things; I have been called a dick. But that it doesn’t really matter because I have someone at home that loves me.
What’s the bluntest thing anyone’s ever said to James Blunt?
That they like my Twitter account.
About your Twitter account – when did you start being so funny on it?
My record label started it up and asked if I could promote my music. I thought, “That sounds really boring.” So I decided I’d just abuse myself on it.
So it’s essentially an official James Blunt parody account?
Exactly. When they first set it up I chose the name ‘@DirtyLilBlunt’. Then they asked me to change it to something more recognisable – ‘@JamesBlunt’. Record labels: how to take out the creative.
Have you ever gone too far with the self-deprecation?
Maybe, I suppose. One guy wrote, “James Blunt’s my guilty pleasure” and I replied, “Mine’s anal.” The moral of the story is don’t drink and tweet.
Why do you get so much abuse online?
If you put your head above the parapet, you’ll get shot at. I put out a certain type of music and I’m lucky that thousands of people buy my albums and turn up to my shows. Then people highlight in interviews like this that I get some abuse online. But all those people tweeting me are probably lonely, sitting in a darkened room with their trousers around their ankles. Isn’t it more interesting that 20 million albums were sold?
Surely you must get a lot of love as well?
Yeah. I suppose that’s a contradiction in itself – even from my own perspective it’s too tempting to ignore the positives and focus on the negatives.
You used to have an ‘agony uncle’ column in the Metro called ‘To Be Blunt’. How did that come about?
They phoned up and said, “We gather you’re looking for a job?” Which I was. It was ridiculous and very funny. It proved I shouldn’t be let near an agony column.
You live in Ibiza now. What’s the ideal James Blunt night out?
Pacha is a nice nightclub. My song 1973 is named after the year it opened. Amnesia is fun. DC10 is awesome. And, of course, I have a club at the end of my garden – which you’re very welcome to come to. You can hear the influence on the album. I wanted this record to sound like Akon.
Although its cover looks suspiciously like Bruce Springsteen’s Greatest Hits...
Yeah, the fucker copied me, didn’t he? You’d think he’d come up with something of his own.
Were the club scenes in the Love Me Better video shot in Beefa?
No – glamorous Watford. Lovely this time of year, worth a visit.
There’s a news article online titled ‘James Blunt “prevented World War III”’. Is that true?
All I’m expecting is a small thank you. That’s why the royals are so keen to knight me.
But what actually happened?
I was an Army reconnaissance officer in Kosovo. US general Wesley Clark gave us instructions to overpower 200 Russians at an airfield. But the consequences seemed pretty serious. After five minutes of questioning my orders, British general Mike Jackson came on the radio and said, “Stop this. I won’t have my soldiers responsible for starting World War III.” So we pulled back.
Did you ever get to serenade the troops with You’re Beautiful?
I had three attempted trips to Afghanistan, which all failed. Our military transportation is shit. But I did return to Kosovo to play it.
How did performing on Sesame Street compare to that?
It was the highlight of my career. Telly Monster is a nice dude.
You were friends with Carrie Fisher. What was the best piece of advice she gave you?
She helped me name my first album – her house was a mad environment. So I called it Back To Bedlam. I recorded Goodbye My Lover in her bathroom.
Is it true that she put up a Princess Leia cut-out where you were recording?
She put it outside my bedroom to protect me at night.
[Images: Rex Features]