When James Toseland broke both wrists in the accident that ended his career as a superbikes world champion it was the piano that saved his life. The piano and a chance meeting with his future wife.
Toseland returned to his first love of music when faced with the reality that days as a world class sportsman were over – and met the current love of his life as he went in search of inspiration.
“I met Katie [Melua] when I’d finished racing,” he explained. Toseland and Melua tied the knot in 2012 at a star-studded wedding bringing together the worlds of music and sport.
“I met her at when I was injured and she was playing a show. After we talked I remember thinking that I really wanted to get back to piano playing.
“Katie’s been in the business for a long time and when I told her what I was planning for the band Toseland – and how I wanted to break into the music business -she said ‘ok mate join the queue’.
“But when I brought the masters for our debut album back home and she heard them I think she was quite impressed. Katie’s a bit of a rocker at heart and grew up listening to Judas Priest and Metallica. Her brother is the lead guitarist in the band!
“Of course Katie’s been there, done that and got the T-shirt where music is concerned but when I saw the Toseland album on iTunes for the first time we were both very, very excited. When you’re staring up from the bottom of the ladder something like that means a lot.”
Toseland the man was quickly scaling the rungs of the rock ladder as Toseland the band readied debut Renegade and caused quite a stir within a congested and competitive scene.
“It doesn’t matter who I was on the superbikes scene – the music needs to stand up for itself if I’m going to progress,” he added. “Being me isn’t enough in the music business but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I remember Planet Rock playlisted one of Toseland’s songs without knowing I was linked to the band. That was great. I didn’t want people to make a judgement because of what I’d done in the past.
“We could have done that and played on the superbikes thing but I wanted it to be about the music. I needed to be respected as a musician. I’ve played the pubs and clubs, I’ve driven the van up and down the country and I’ve stayed in the Travel Lodges – I wanted to earn my stripes as a musician. It’s been a long old slog but I’m glad I haven’t relied on the past.”
Hitting the UK this month for a run of headline shows, sandwiched in between support slots on Status Quo’s latest sell-out tour, Toseland the band are riding the crest of a wave on the back of critical acclaim for Renegade.
Produced and co-written by Scarborough’s former Little Angels frontman Toby Jepson it’s a classy collection of British hard rock and Toseland added: “To have Toby as a co-writer and a mentor was just what I needed.
“He saw how much passion and drive I had to do this. We worked so well together and I was so proud of what we achieved. The album’s been very well received and I’m only just starting to get my teeth into what I set out to do.
“I took a few hundred ideas to Toby and it was great to get a gauge of where I needed to start. He really came into his own in the studio and it was a real learning curve for me.”
* Toseland’s UK tour continues in Poole tonight.