If you were of a more cynical disposition, you would assume the record label had paid her.
"You're here for Jake Bugg?" asks the hotel receptionist on arrival in Lincoln. "I'm going to the show tonight, too. I can't wait! It's his voice – it's just so different to all that pop and R&B that's out there, isn't it?"
Her enthusiasm tells you a lot about Bugg's success. He may not have been courted by the press but his meteoric rise over the past year shows that you don't always need that. While some may find Bugg's influences – the Beatles, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash – derivative, what his fans see in him is an antidote to "manufactured" plastic pop music: boybands, EDM, anything connected with The X Factor. Bugg's background – he grew up on a council estate in Clifton, Nottingham – combined with his fondness for singing about popping pills (I've Seen It All) and evading the police (Two Fingers), also mark him out as a grittier guitar slinger than the raft of public school bands out there who all seem to be made up of future members of the Tory cabinet.
Plenty of people are (sorry) catching this Bugg. Still only 18, he's had a No1 album, supported Noel Gallagher and the Stone Roses and been nominated in the British breakthrough category at this month's Brit awards. Not that he's getting carried away.
"I'm just a guy playing a few songs," he answers, when pressed on whether or not he's a true man-of-the-people songwriter. It's a similar answer to the one he gives when asked whether he is fazed by his sudden success, or whether he really is bringing "authenticity" back to music. In fact, you get the feeling you could question Bugg on anything – from the state of the Swedish economy to whether he likes pouring custard down his pants – and he'd still stare through you in that trademark stoned daze of his and say: "I'm just a guy playing a few songs." He claims to hate fame and wishes he could just make a steady income from songwriting – he might well be telling the truth, too.
Bugg's journey began, strangely enough, with The Simpsons. Or, more to the point, the Don McLean song Vincent that he heard on an episode of The Simpsons. At around the same time, his uncle happened to pass on a guitar to him, which he taught himself to play. You don't always get that much peace and quiet on an estate, so Bugg would drown out the sound of his neighbours rowing by singing.
"I'd play the Beatles to learn the highs, because some of Paul's harmonies are ridiculous. Then I'd try Johnny Cash to get the lows …"
From here he dabbled for a few weeks on a music tech course ("Did I learn anything? Yeah. I learnt not to go there.") before concentrating on the things that mattered more: finding venues who would let him play despite the fact he wasn't old enough to order a beer from the bar.
"The scariest gig I ever did, though, was at school," he notes. "I got put in isolation, and the only way I could get out was if I did the school concert. You're stood up in front of people you're gonna see every day for the next two or three years. Whenever I get nervous before a show, I think: 'Well, it can't be as bad as that!'"
Was it more nerve racking than supporting the Stone Roses at Heaton Park? "That was actually quite a mad show," he accepts. "But once I got up there I just played my tunes. No point dwelling on it, is there?"
Bugg gives the impression of being equally relaxed about his debut album going straight in at No1 ("I just write songs. If people like it, then great"). Yet while he insists there was no extra sweetness to be taken from a working-class lad displacing Mumford and Sons from the top spot, he's not particularly convincing with it: "They just look like posh farmers with banjos to me … but I don't have anything against anyone's background."
Does he think rock'n'roll has lost touch with the working class?
"Yeah, it's a shame, because times are hard. My mum was a single mum on the dole … a couple of years ago I was trying to get enough together for a pack of fags. It's hard to rely on being a musician right now, but you have to do what it takes."
In the past Bugg has spoken about keeping "X Factor shit" out of the charts and railed against "manufactured" pop. But given that all pop is, to some extent, manufactured, it makes him an easy target for critics. Some have jumped on the fact he uses co-writers – such as Iain Archer, formerly of Snow Patrol – on his songs. ("Sometimes Lennon needed McCartney and sometimes Simon needed Garfunkel," Bugg reasons. "You'd go mad doing everything on your own.") Others have noted that his claims to hate fame don't square well with him being papped at parties, such as the Burberry one he played last week.
"I hate that shit, though," he says. "Does. My. Head. In. I don't really know what they're after by papping me anyway. I'm just some lad who writes a few tunes, you know what I mean?"
By this point I do kind of get the idea. We talk about the final song on Bugg's album, a short, crackly reggae number called Fire. Recorded on his iPhone, the label thought the fancy studio versions couldn't match it so they went with the rough demo instead. The decision to add old gramophone crackles during mastering, however, surely makes it as "manufactured" as any pop song with added vocoder or air sirens, albeit to a different audience?
"I don't think so, no."
"It's the same as having an FX pedal, messing around with sound, experimenting," he says, before making a somewhat OTT comparison. "That's why Jimi Hendrix is my favourite guitarist … because he was doing something new, trying stuff out."
Perhaps the greatest irony of the whole authenticity debate surrounding Bugg is that his best songs are the ones that sound the least like an 18-year-old has ever touched them. Skiffle-tinged singles such as Lightning Bolt are far less deft than the understated likes of Simple As This or Broken, which show signs of the classic songwriter he could grow into. These gentler songs don't even seem to put off the more raucous element of his fanbase. According to his manager, Jason, it all kicked off last night in Sheffield: "About three of them started fighting when he played Country Song," he says.
Country Song? It's so hushed and inoffensive, the idea it could have incited a scrap seems impossible. But later that night at Lincoln's Engine Shed, we witness the rowdy atmosphere Bugg's music inspires. His restrained opening rendition of Fire isn't even over before one guy is marched outside with two security personnel restraining him. Realising that his night is finished, the guy does what any other sane person would do under the circumstances – lamps a complete stranger in the face on his way out.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact the venue sells beer in two-pint pots, but the atmosphere is electric, and not solely in a violent way: there are joyous singalongs and group hugs throughout, the dancing only stopping when someone has to dodge an airborne drinking receptacle or two. Amid the chaos, Bugg and his gentle folk music almost disappears into the background. But maybe that's how he genuinely prefers it – just a guy onstage, playing a few songs.
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