JAMES HASKELL INTERVIEW BY JULES BOYLE, FEBRUARY 2023
What can you tell us about the new tour?
The idea to do a full tour came about after I did a five-date run and really enjoyed it, basically. It’s an opportunity for me to tell some stories and get a chance to perform. I’ve had lots of adventures in my career, which was very colourful to say the least. I worked under five different England managers, played in multiple different countries, I’m married to Richard and Judy’s daughter, I’m a DJ and producer, I host multiple different podcasts and obviously I’ve gotten myself into a fair bit of scandal over the years, so there’s quite a lot to talk about I think! So it’s a nice opportunity to entertain people and make them laugh. It’s not meant to be overly serious, but it’s a true reflection on my career, but just focusing on the funny bits!
Obviously there’s a fair bit of rugby chat in there, but it’s not the usual kind of analysis and opinions that people might be used to seeing at a live show is it?
People will have a perception what it’s like to be a sportsman, but I always like to draw back the curtain on that and tell what it’s really like. It’s a very personal perspective obviously, but I’m giving my take on some of the big talking points, like why certain things happened, or what makes a good or bad environment to play in. It’s a whistlestop tour more than a lecture, as it’s very anecdotal. There’s no point by point breakdown, it’s more just my life in stories, coming off the back of my book What A Flanker. People seemed to really enjoy hearing those tales, so it makes sense to go out and do something similar in the stage.
You’re known for being very honest about your life and experiences, but are these shows going to see you setting the record straight on anything?
A lot of me setting the record straight was done in the book, to be honest. Obviously I’m going to touch on the fact I’m a new dad, that I live with my in-laws and that I’ve been a victim of the media at times and I’ve caused trouble with them myself at times. So I’m not lecturing, I’m just giving people an idea of what I’m like. The real life stories might be shocking and even unbelievable, but they actually all happened and that’s what I’ll be telling people about.
As much as it’s a big focus, you won’t just be talking rugby when you’re up on the stage, will you?
No, not at all! It’s anchored around my journey of not wanting to be a rugby player to becoming one and breaking the mould around what that means. You don’t need to know anything about rugby to come and watch it, you just need a sense of humour and be prepared to laugh at some parts, get a bit emotional at others and possibly even be mildly shocked at some others. My life has been a bit of an adventure, so there’s so much to talk about that isn’t just rugby. Some players go through their whole career and have amazing achievements, but don’t have anything funny to say. I’ve got a lot of things to draw upon, so there’s no shortage of material, that’s for sure!
You have another new book out, Approach Without Caution. What can you tell us about that as it’s a little bit different from your previous ones isn’t it?
If Sex, Tries & Videotapes and What A Flanker were entertainment with some serious themes, Approach Without Caution is much more about the mindset of how to deal with being successful and all the ups and downs that come with it. It covers things like how to reconcile your mental health and how to be constantly reviewing yourself getting better. Yes, it does have some humour in it, but it’s more focusing on steps to be revisiting every day to be better. That was one of the things for me that came out of the books, as people loved the stories, but they also wanted to know more about how I dealt with things like criticism and failure, or how you can pull yourself back up. I worked with some of the best coaches, psychologists and people in business around the world, so I’ve picked up a lot good ideas and information that I’m able to share. I’ve never wanted or expected anyone to look up to me, but I’ve lived a life where I’ve made plenty mistakes and I’m honest about them, so I’m happy to share the lessons I’ve learned with people, without being dogmatic about it. These things I’m talking about might not work for everyone, but I’m hoping they’ll be of help to some people. That’s the reason I’m doing it. There’s some universal lessons there that I think are important. It’s hard being a young man at the moment I think, so some positive guidance is no bad thing.
Your podcast The Good, Bad and the Rugby just keeps going from strength to strength. How gratifying is it that people have taken to it so much?
It’s an amazing thing to be involved with, to be honest. The chemistry we have, the fact it goes so well and just how much reach it has is quite remarkable, so it’s really important to me. We all get on so well, but we never set out to change anything, it was more just about loving what we do, having fun and hopefully promoting some good things about rugby. It was never going to have detailed reviews and nauseating breakdowns of the game, it’s about the people, the personalities and the stories. It was meant to be about the emotional and personal side, which I think we’ve managed and are getting better at all the time. We cover a lot of difficult topics too, but at the heart of it, it’s just three really good friends who absolutely love working together.
You also have Amuse Douche, a new podcast at the moment documenting your journey to become a stand-up comedian. What was your thinking to let people see every step of the way instead of waiting until you had done something? It must have been scary at times, surely?
I do a lot of speaking and I’ve always been fascinated by comedians, so any time I talk I’m usually trying to make people laugh. There was an opportunity to do this podcast, which would be ten episodes and an eight-minute stand up, then followed by another series of ten and do a 20-minute warm-up for Russel Kane in a comedy club, so I was really keen to do it. It was quite scary, but not completely out of the realm of what I’ve already been doing. Obviously if you’re recording the whole journey, it makes it a bit harder as if you end up failing and you bomb, which happens to all of us at some point, it’s out there for everyone to see, but it’s went really well so far. I’ve just started the second season and it’s been a great adventure, but it’s also been the most nervous I’ve been to do anything for a long time, which makes you feel alive!
As well as all that, you have also managed to carve out a successful career as a house and techno DJ/producer. How’s that all going for you at the moment?
Of all the things that I do, that’s probably the one that I can’t get enough of. I want to keep making music and getting paid to perform in front of people and fly around the world while I’m doing it. So I’m trying to produce as much music as I can and release as many records as I can to really push that. I’ve just come back from a trip where I was DJing every day in the Alps in France and Italy for example, which was an amazing experience. If feels like a perfect transition for a sportsperson to go into I think, as you still have the crowds and the adulation, but also the attention to detail and the need to work really hard at it. The fact I’ve had people like Carl Cox playing my records though, that’s next level stuff. I’m a very lucky man to get to do all these great things that I love.
SEX, TRIES AND VIDEOTAPE is coming to:
08-Mar-23 Nottingham Glee Club
14-Mar-23 Norwich Playhouse
15-Mar-23 Cambridge Junction
16-Mar-23 Oxford O2 Academy
24-Mar-23 Salford Lowry Quays
28-Mar-23 Southend Palace Theatre
29-Mar-23 London Richmond Theatre
04-Apr-23 Cardiff Glee
06-Apr-23 Leeds City Varieties
15-Apr-23 Southampton Mast Mayflower Studios
19-Apr-23 Birmingham Glee Club
20-Apr-23 Leicester The Y Theatre
21-Apr-23 Bristol Tobacco Factory
22-Apr-23 Plymouth Quad Theatre
27-Apr-23 Coventry The Albany Theatre
General & VIP Tickets – https://myticket.co.uk/artists/james-haskell
VIP ticket includes:
- Pre-show meet & greet with James
- Photo opportunity with James (photo to be taken on customers camera)
- Seat at the front of auditorium
- Includes ticket to the event
Tickets and VIP packages are on sale with prices starting from £26.50 via https://myticket.co.uk/artists/james-haskell.