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James MarstersJames Marsters - About Music Career - Metro.co.uk Interview
By Andrew Williams
Wednesday 27 April 2005, by Webmaster
Actor James Marsters is best known for playing peroxide blond vampire Spike on cult hit TV shows Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel, where his frequent appearances sans top won him a legion of lady admirers. As well as acting, Marsters is a musician. He is touring Britain and is in negotiations to release his album on a major label. What kind of reception do you get playing gigs in Britain?
It’s off the hook. In Britain, you have to prove yourself more. You guys know how to make your own music here. It’s cool to watch the guys in the back of the house stand there with their arms folded at the start of the gig and, by the end, see them with their arms over their heads and screaming - that is really good.
I assumed the majority of the audience would be Buffy fans.
Yeah, I don’t fool myself, dude, but a lot of the fans of the TV show are also rock fans, so there’s quite a big crossover. I was in theatre all my life before Buffy and it was always like: ’How do we get butts into seats?’ Now, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to worry about that but the concern is: ’How do I get those butts jumping and happy?’
Buffy fans are renowned for their loyalty. Are any of them a bit demented about it?
People look to entertainment for passion. We go through our lives most days feeling kind of grey so we want to hang out with artists who will give us a wonderful evening but who would probably give us headaches if we saw them all the time. We artists give the fire. That was what marked my performance on Buffy and Angel - the brutal passion of it. People respond to something if they think it’s sincere. I find that there are people who really want to release into the fantasy of Buffy and have a world they can escape to - and then there are people who just want a nice ride once a week. I find there’s a high amount of passion in both of those groups.
60 SECONDS EXTRA!: Why have you decided to make an album rather than go straight back to acting?
I did - I went straight back into acting. The album almost fell apart because I went to Canada to make a film called Cool Money. It’s definitely a question of balance but right now is the slow time in Hollywood - it’s winding down for the summer so it’s a good time to tour. I’ve had to balance work all the time - I used to produce shows and act at the same time. I’ve always had my cake and eaten it. You just have to keep making more cake.
You trained at Juilliard - a highly respected American acting institute. How did that prepare you to play Spike?
I suggest people avoid Juilliard as it will sap the fun out of any young artist they get their hands on. It was a horrible, nightmarish experience and people should stay away from it. The success I got out of Spike was by dumping all that technique. The reason Spike took off was because me and my then girlfriend were having the most outrageous sex I’ve ever had in my life and I felt like the tallest man in the world. It was just dripping off me. I brought that into the audition and the first few episodes, then took that as a talisman for the rest of the show. That’s what it was down to.
What are your musical influences?
I’d describe the sound as Jake Jackson meets Jet. There are a lot of punk influences in my chord progressions and Joni Mitchell in terms of melody - there’s a kind of folk and jazz influence there.
When did you start doing gigs?
I was performing in bars when I was 15. I was doing James Taylor covers. He really is a genius. I did some acoustic versions of Ramones songs too - finding out how to make an acoustic guitar rock. I concentrated on acting when I left school and my guitar became something just for myself and remained so until I started on Buffy. Club owners found out I played the guitar and booked me to do covers sets and then I started writing my own material and started the band.
You dyed your hair blond for seven years during your time on Buffy. Do you have any hair-care tips for our readers?
I say if it doesn’t hurt then do it. My scalp got really dry and painful. Sometimes they’d come in to bleach it and I’d end up on the floor in the foetal position because it was so sore. I’m not bleaching it any more - it’s micro-short now so I can just get out of bed and it’s done.
You were named Sexiest Male Vampire 2002 by a London vampire cult - is that an honour?
It’s always an honour to be named sexy. I was a poor artist for a long time. There weren’t many people calling me sexy then.
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