Jettblack’s Will Stapleton talks about ‘War Of The Worlds’

With High Wycombe sleaze rockers Jettblack having recently finished their first UK headlining tour, in support of their sophomore ‘Raining Rock’ album, vocalist Will Stapleton is not about to take things easy…  Instead, he has taken to the stage again – but in a completely different role, as ‘The Voice Of Humanity’ in a new stage production of Jeff Wayne’s ‘War Of The Worlds’, alongside such other rock luminaries as Jason Donovan, Ricky Wilson (of The Kaiser Chiefs) and Marti Pellow!

As the musical’s European tour kicked off in Dublin, PM popped backstage for a chat with the tousled haired vocalist (and bandmates Tom Wright and Matt Oliver, who he dragged along for the opening night party) to find out how he came to land a role in the epic story of an alien invasion thwarted by the common cold (oh, shit, have we just given away the ending?  Oops!) and the possibility of following it up with ‘Jettblack – The Panto’…  Well, it is nearly Christmas, after all…

So, how come the frontman of an up-and-coming (and largely unknown outside the specialist press), come to land a role in such a mammoth stage show?

“I got an email, through our manager, from, I think it was the producer or their agent, saying that they were having difficulty casting this final role and that a rock journalist called Mick Burgess, who I know from having done reviews of Jettblack and who knows the composer or director, had put a few names forward and one of them was mine…  They then called me and asked me if I could go in and try out for it – kind of like an audition – so I went and met Jeff Wayne in his studio, in this huge mansion, and had a chat with him… from that, I got to record my version of ‘Thunderchild’, which is the song I’m singing:  the following week they called me and said I was in!” laughs Will now.

Was this the sort of thing he had ever envisaged doing?

“No, not at all.  I’m not really into anything theatrical:  I suppose what we do (with the band) is a bit theatrical in its own way – but I did state that I didn’t wanted to do any acting ‘cos I can’t do that!”

Did he ever think, as a lad, maybe watching ‘Neighbours’ or Jason Donovan on ‘Top Of The Pops’ that one day he’d be sharing a stage with him?

“Jason Donovan’s one of his idols!”  interjects Jettblack joker-in-the-pack Matt.

“I remember seeing him in ‘Joseph And His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ and thinking that, while I wasn’t interested in doing the same sort of thing, it was pretty cool… and I think I was a bit in awe…” says Will.

“And you always looked up to Marty Pellow’s ponytail!” adds bassist Tom, the two bandmates obviously determined to keep their frontman’s ego in check!

“I think the best thing is having your name on the same poster as Liam Neeson,” responds drummer Matt.

“It’s just a pity he’s not actually in it!” says Will (Neeson appears in holographic form as The Journalist – a role originally played by the late Richard Burton).

So, what are the rest of the band doing while Stapleton is taking on the bright lights of musical theatre?

“Oh, we’re all doing various things,” retorts Matt.  “I’m going into ‘Oliver’, Jon (Dow – guitarist/vocalist) is getting his skates on to do ‘Starlight Express’ and Tom can’t decide between ‘Cats’ and ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’!”

“I guess we’ll just rehearse,” adds Tom on a more serious note.  “We’ll maybe work on some new material – and get on with our lives without Will really!”

“He’s not very good anyway so we can get on with it without him!” adds Dow, who has snuck into the dressing room having fulfilled his search for more free beer.

So, there’s no danger of this time next year us talking about ‘Jettblack – The Pantomime’?

“I fucking hope not,” says Tom.  “That would be tragic – like Dean Gaffney… oh fuck NO!”


The UK leg of the ‘War Of The Worlds – The New Generation Alive On Stage’ tour kicks of at the Echo Arena, Liverpool, on Saturday December 1st, and then can be caught on the following dates:

December 2nd / 3rd – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

December 4th – Capital FM Arena, Nottingham

December 6th – Wembley Arena, London

December 7th – National Indoor Arena, Birmingham

December 8th – MEN Arena, Manchester

December 9th – Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield

December 10th – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

December 11th – SECC, Glasgow

December 13th / 14th – BIC, Bournemouth

December 15th – O2 Arena, London

December 16th / 17th – Brighton Centre, Brighton

The soundtrack to ‘War Of The Worlds – The New Generation’ is available now from

Jettblack’s ‘Raining Rock’ is out now on Spinefarm Records:


About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff