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James Blunt on pubs, beer, music and Twitter

Interview: The singer-songwriter chats to ShortList.

James Blunt on pubs, beer, music and Twitter
Marc Chacksfield
13 November 2021

You only have to look at his Twitter feed to understand the sort of person James Blunt is. Despite serving in the army, selling over 20 million records worldwide and winning numerous singer-songwriter awards it reads: 'Cockney rhyming slang for the good stuff; Proof that one song is all you need.'

Okay, so maybe he’s right about the Cockney rhyming slang but as for the 'one song', that’s multiplied to a point where he is now releasing his greatest hits, The Stars Beneath My Feet (2004-2021), something he’s excited about when we talk to him from his home in Ibiza. But, as always, it's with a slathering of self deprecation.

“It is out the same day as Adele's new album [19 November], so she's obviously shitting herself about that. I’m surprised she hasn’t changed her release date. Taylor Swift has moved her release date, so clearly she is nervous,” he says, completely deadpan.

A new record and a forthcoming tour - he's heading to Wembley Arena in February 2022 and then across Europe - would be enough for most, but James Blunt actually has a sideline in… beer. He’s the co-host of a new Amazon Prime Video reality show called Beer Masters, where five teams compete to brew the next best beer.

“The show is a great celebration of beer,” says Blunt. “It's a competition, where you have five finalists and we are down to the finals in these five episodes. The episodes are all dropping at once as well, which is nice. So you can binge watch, as well as binge drink.”

Blunt may seem like an out-there choice to co-host a show about beer but, as ShortList found out, there’s more to the man than You’re Beautiful.

Here are 5 things we learned about James Blunt...

1. He really likes beer… but is no expert

James Blunt on pubs, beer, music and Twitter

"I'm a touring musician. I’ve toured constantly for about 17 years and my tour bus is just a bar, a fridge on wheels filled with beer. People have asked me what my rider says and my rider really just says, no food, just beer.

"So when the producers of Beer Masters had a long think about what they would need, they realised they needed an expert, someone who really knew their stuff, who was passionate, but had a great deep knowledge of beer and its intricacies. Which is why they got Jaega Wise on the show. Then they said they needed a sidekick and I seem to be that go to. I’m thrilled they thought of me."

2. He has got his own pub, in Chelsea

James Blunt on pubs, beer, music and Twitter

"I bought a pub in Chelsea called The Fox And The Pheasant which I absolutely love doing. I bought it really because it was my local and was being sold to turn into a house. I thought it a minor popstar's job to save it and keep it as the 170 year-old pub that it always was.

"It has been such a pleasure and when you buy a pub you have to choose your beers. I asked my mates who have a finer sense of taste than me. And so, you know, we've really then got some fantastic beers from across the UK and it's been really fun and educational to do. That’s why I have a passion for beer in the first place.

"Pubs are a special place, where people come together and meet each other face to face, not through a phone screen. It’s where you meet and you talk to people, not only to friends but strangers. And I really think that's a fantastic thing."

3. He won’t be doing a Gary Barlow and release his own drinks range

James Blunt on pubs, beer, music and Twitter

"I think the answer to that is no and if I did it certainly wouldn’t be called James Blunt. I wouldn’t even drink that! But I have learned a huge amount doing Beer Masters. I couldn't have imagined beforehand the creativity, the sense of freedom that one can have when making these beers. I imagined there would be rules that you had to stick to and of course there are some guidelines but it's just tastebuds. You can pick and choose from a whole world of different things and, well, my go-to beers have always been very unrefined.

"Some of the beers in the show were just incredible. Like the Belgian’s making a sour beer. I hadn't imagined liking a sour beer, it was like putting pineapple on a pizza to me - why would you do that, surely it should be illegal? And yet, I was a convert to what they were making and it was actually delicious.

"I'm always going to be a cheap date. But yeah, I will definitely be trying different things from now on."

4. His was the first big post-Covid gig

James Blunt on pubs, beer, music and Twitter

"I pity the nation really because, after an entire lockdown, the very first full capacity live show was... me. Maybe you think they would have suffered enough but, no. I suppose people were so thrilled just to be allowed out that they didn’t know I was the singer on the stage, they were just so excited."

5. His favourite Tweets are the filthiest ones

James Blunt on pubs, beer, music and Twitter

"My favourite Tweets are so offensive. I remember someone Tweeted that James Blunt was their guilty pleasure and I wrote back that mine was anal. I occasionally write up a reply and before I press send I show it to my wife and if she shakes her head or something, or says ‘no’, that's when I press send."

Beer Masters is available to stream on Prime Video now.