Jake Bugg is trying to get used to fame. The singer, now 20, had an international hit with "Lightning Bolt," and has a concert DVD, "Live at the Royal Albert Hall," coming out on Dec. 23, but adjusting to the big life has come with its challenges.
“You get people going, ‘Alright Jake, you remember our Kelly, don’t you? I think you met her when you were about three.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, but I don’t know her now. You never came ‘round and said hello before'… but that’s how it is,” resignedly recalls Jake Bugg of a night out with would-be opportunist friends in his hometown of Nottingham.
The British singer-songwriter, whose self-titled debut album topped the charts when he was only 18 and eventually went double platinum, is wary of fame. Some of his cautiousness stems from growing up on a deprived, crime-ridden social housing estate – the source of much of his material for his first album.
Despite his boyish looks, Bugg is an old soul, describing the snap-and-overshare, millennial generation as “crazy". "People are really taken by fame in this day and age,” he says almost bemused by the public’s fascination with celebrity.
“I like to keep myself to myself, but if fame and publicity is something that comes along with it and it helps maintain my career and what I want to do, I’m willing to do it,” Bugg mumbles in a thick Midlands accent.
His reluctance to play the “fame game” is obvious, and he admits that if he had his way he’d “delete Twitter” but acknowledges “it wouldn’t do him any favors.” False peppiness isn’t Bugg’s bag. On stage, the man who penned the crowd-rousing Sixties-sounding “Lightning Bolt” shuns showmanship for craftsmanship, a privilege reserved for only the most prodigiously talented.
His second album “Shangri La,” which was produced last year by Rick Rubin (the former Columbia music label co-president), entered the UK charts at number three and is expected, in Bugg’s words, to “rob him a few fans from The Black Keys,” who he supported on tour in the U.S. earlier this year.
Bugg, known for his Bob Dylan-esque warbling vocals, finds it hard to pander to the glitz and self-promotional positivity of America. “I can’t be so honest [during interviews],” he says, before quickly correcting himself: “I’m still honest but everything has to be so great in the U.S. – they’re real optimists." His explanation is followed by a return to gazing at his shoelaces, like a nervous schoolboy.
The former boyfriend of model Cara Delevingne, whose awkward reticence belies his arena sell-out performer trade, does “sometimes have the odd mad one once in a while."
“But I think when you go to those clubs – from what I’ve seen – everyone is trying to outdo each other by buying the most expensive bottle of champagne. And it’s like a bottle of champagne that costs £500 will probably taste the same as a £5,000 bottle but it’s all about image, isn’t it?” the young sage observes.
As for the most expensive bottle Bugg has splashed out on: “I’ve never bought a bottle, I get given them,” he chuckles. “I only buy vintage guitars and they’re an investment.” In case you ask, no gold Bugatti Veyron’s for Bugg – he doesn’t drive and the guitars are his pension. Old beyond his years, indeed.