For a man who’s soared up to speeds of 190mph on two wheels on some of the world’s most commanding circuits, it seems strange to think of the stage as a nerve-wracking venture.
But for Sheffield’s former World Superbike Champion, James Toseland, standing behind a microphone is just as nerve-wracking as riding a two-wheeled rocket.
And Toseland’s nerves will be tested on home turf next week when his band, Toseland, perform a special gig in Sheffield in support of their album, Renegade.
“It’s a homecoming gig so it’s a really special one for me. All my friends and family are coming along but it is nerve-wracking going on stage. When you’re going round a track at high speeds people aren’t watching you. You can hide behind a helmet as well. On stage the crowd’s attention is focused on the band for the entire set.”
But it’s a welcome rush.
“I’m really loving that buzz,” says Toseland. “When I was racing bikes I knew that when I retired I wanted to pursue music. Motorcycle racing is a job with – I think – the highest thrills ever and it’s great to have those thrills with music as well.”
The album is a collection of steady rock numbers with heavy licks on guitar. There are some ballads in there as well, and Renegade is an autobiographical number about Toseland’s childhood.
“I suppose Renegade is a very special track for me because it’s autobiographical. The first line: ‘..brought up in a back street northern English town’ is about my childhood,” he says.
But thanks to the introduction to his Yamaha TY80 as a young boy, that life quickly stretched beyond Kiveton Park.
By the age of 17 he was dominating the Honda CB500 cup and the following year he was signed up to the Castrol Honda World Supersport team, in 1998.
But while Toseland’s name is synonymous with bikes, the athlete has always played the piano (his 2002 sponsor even treated him to a Steinway as an incentive) and actually intended to study music before his racing career escalated to international status.
Now, it seems, the Kiveton Park artist is finally picking up where he left off.
“I’m enjoying the fact that our gigs are really well-attended and that the crowds are growing, and this is all down to the fans,” he says.
Indeed, there is no hype to Toseland. The band’s album was released through Pledgemusic.com – relying on music lovers to support it, not a major record label.
And it seems Toseland’s fans just can’t get enough.
“We’ve got loads of shows in Italy and we’re supporting Status Quo’s tour this year, so we’re playing some really big venues.”
But for now, the former World Superbike rider is busy preparing for his Sheffield show. “It will be good, we all have a great time on stage and enjoy what we’re doing.”
Toseland plays at Sheffield’s Leadmill on Monday, April 14.