LONG gone are the teenage disco days that I’d dance to Air Hostess or Year 3000 as the DJ skipped between Busted, McFly and the emo pop rock guitar bands that stormed the charts in the early 2000s.

And yet 15 years on, as I talk to Charlie Simpson from Busted, I can’t help but hum the tune to What I Go To School For as he chats away.

Busted are back – but not as you remember them. They’re a little darker around the edges, mature and they’ve had a hair cut. The once teen-crazed band are heading to Dorset to tour their new album Night Driver at the O2 Academy in Bournemouth on February 4.

The teen band that notched up four number one singles and over five million sales of their two albums Busted and A Present For Everyone by singing ultra-catchy emo pop songs about school, wedding crashers and Thunderbirds – are long gone. They broke up back in 2005, and they’re glad they did.

Charlie said: “It ended amicably and we left it in a place where, if we ever were to come back together we could, because we didn’t ruin our friendships.

“I left the band because we came to a point where we weren’t on the same page musically.”

That Busted were a sensation that exploded from the post-millennial emo pop firmament and imploded just as quickly in a tangle of diverging ambitions, Charlie leaving to pursue his harder rock interests in Fightstar.

“Where I was at at the end of Busted was very different to where Matt and James were.”

But after a few years had passed, hanging out with James again, Charlie realised their music tastes weren’t all that different in the end.

“James came round to my house a bunch of times and we talked about the music we were listening to. A lot of the stuff that James had on his iPod was stuff I was listening to as well.

“I had Bruce Hornsby And The Range’s The Way It Is on repeat for months and James was like ‘I’ve been listening to that record as well!’

“When we started hanging out together again, all three of us had changed hugely. They’d gone on a journey themselves, as I had. It was a new template.

“It was a two year process getting back together. Eight years had gone by and we started hanging out together again – it just seemed very different and we talked what Busted would look like again and decided it would be very different.

“We did it under the radar and it’s been a very gradual and organic process.”

It wasn’t until April 2015 that the trio were able to get themselves in a studio owned by one of James’ friends, away from fan and media attention, to find out if they really were on the same page once more. The page they found themselves on was neon-lit and timeless.

It was the glossy LA noir aesthetic of Winding Refn’s Drive and the sound of classic 80’s Juno-60 synths, The Goonies soundtrack, Bruce Hornsby, Phil Collins, Chicago and Hall & Oates. But shot through with modern pop and EDM elements, and their innate knack for a melodic thunderbolt.

Charlie said: “We are a product of that time, but we wanted to take those influences and rejuvenate it into something that feels fresh.”

Emerging excited from this water-testing session with a new song called Easy in the bag, the Busted reunion was sealed. Over four weeks, the band hit the studio in LA with Miley Cyrus and Jimmy Eat World producer John Fields, taking no material in with them, yet writing and recording a new song virtually every day.

“The song Night Driver, for instance, we went in at eleven in the morning, it was finished by eight in the evening, fully recorded.

“We’d get in, we’d have instruments set up, and we’d write pretty much a song a day.”

Keen to road-test the new tunes and reacquaint themselves with the Busted faithful, they announced a 13-date arena tour.

The first 100,000 tickets sold out in an hour and five extra dates were added. Bustedmania was back with a vengeance.

They made a point of opening the comeback shows with a new song called Coming Home.

Charlie said: “It’s going out on a journey and coming back, the age-old tale.

“Coming Home is a nice summary of the journey of the band, and opening with a new song was a statement of intent moving forward.”

Night Driver is a bright and vibrant 21st Century update of those classic 80’s records they loved, tackling far more mature themes than they ever could before.

Though stylistically unrecognisable and far darker around the edges, Night Driver is still the vivid hook riot you’d expect from Busted, as vivacious in their early thirties as they were in their teens, and the band are itching to present it to the world.

Are they confident they’ll win over a new generation?

“It’ll come as a surprise because the record is so different-sounding, but people will understand that 10 years have gone by.” Charlie says.

“It’s great to have the nostalgia of those old songs, but there’s a big change coming and we want people to embrace it. We want to bring old and new fans alike on this journey with us, because I genuinely think our new record is brilliant.

“It feels like a whole new lease of life.”

n Busted, at the O2 Academy in Bournemouth on Saturday, February 4 at 7pm.