James are making quiet additions to their Book Of Brilliant Things. The current chapters have been probed ad nauseam – normality, music, Manchester, brown rice, garish jumpers and hipness.
But hark, what is this? Edging closer to inclusion are two unlikely contenders -London and a major record label.
Jim: “People in London are really scared and poranoid. They won’t even look at you. Everyone seems so busy and blinkered, living in their own little world.”
Larry: “But there are little pockets you can start walking through and feel quite nice about. Bayswater’s getting a bit like that because we’ve stayed there so often.”
James are also coping admirably with being small fish in the very big pond that is WEA Records. Jim: “We went to a major because we thought the music could sell to a lot of people. We’ve never felt swamped, in fact we’re quite enjoying it.
“We always knew there’d be hassles and we have had hassles but nothing radical. Irs never been, ‘Oh God, the end of the world!'”
Larry: ‘We had very naive ideas.”
Jim: “Very idealistic. We thought we could take the world by storm.”
Larry: “All we knew was that the record industry didn’t work on the principle that if you release a record and if the public buy it, you have a hit.
“If we’d tried to suss out the industry and built a plan of action, we’d have fallen flat on our faces. Our ideas of it 18 months ago have been completely blown to pieces. On the other hand, someone like Tony James can do it because he saw it all 10 years ago. He could go away, devise a masterplan and sell it to the people.”
Isn’t he the one who’s fallen flat on his face? Larry: “I think it’s the industry that has.”
Jim: ‘What happened was probably all he intended anyway. They must have known deep down that they’ve got a cheap, cruddy image that everyone was going to be pissed off with in a few months.” Either that or they’re more stupid than they look.
Larry: “As for the advertising on their LP, I’m sure people are just going to tape it and press the pause button during the adverts. That’s if anyone actually wants to listen to a Sigue Sigue Sputnik album.”
And are James going to be hitless hipsters for the forseeable future?
Larry: HI always thought we’d have a hit some time.”
Jim: .And we haven’t given up or this one yet.. (This one being the very splendid ‘So Many Ways’.) “These days, though, you have to get on the playlist and we’re not. I always used to think DJs played records they liked:’
As for the dreaded image business any record company pressure to enhance the oddity factor? Boxes of kaftans appearing surreptitiously on doorsteps, perhaps?
Larry: “Is our image that dreaded? No, no, I didn’t mean it like that. “No it was basically a case of, ‘Here’s James, let’s see what they can come up with’.”
Jim: “And our image is dead easy We just have to be ourselves.”
‘So Many Ways’ is just one of many delights unveiled on James’ first LP ‘Stutter’. The essential Jamesian elements are here in force -wild, uncontrollable melodies; rabid, unru voice; unbelievably tongue-in-cheek lyrics and, occasionally, a modicum of order.
Timothy Booth’s voice has a perplexing charm. It’s so, um …Larry”‘Weird is the word that springs to mind. Although, on Chain Mail’, he was really taking the mickey out of himself a bit with the highvoice.”
As for James’ poetic licence. ..’I love my black hole’, ‘I need a wash’ and other similar gems sung with such sombre conviction, they must be joking. None of this pilfering from Roget’s Thesaurus like other bands, though.
Larry: ‘We used to have really ba speakers for rehearsing. You could jt about pick up the melody, punctuating and that was about it. The words were totally blurred. ‘Really Hard’ started , as ‘Riddly Ya’. Tim was just improvising with syllables and vowel sounds until one of us mentioned ‘That song, ‘Really Hard'”
Enter Gavan and talk,of antiquated pop stars – Larry’s birthday being imminent. Larry: “Yes, nearly 21.. Ho ho. Too old to be sprightly young pop things, eh? Though such chart doyen as Morten Harket and Neil Tennant are surely giving hope to the elderly.
Larry: “Pet Shop Pensioners, more like..”
Jim: ‘We’re not old, are we, Gav? Gavan: .No, we’re fresh-faced young men.”
Jim: “Seventeen, in fact, so we car be pop stars.”
Larry: ‘Well, you’re going to be a right heart throb anyway, Jim”. (An acquaintance took a copy of James’ last appearance in these hallowed pages to Styal, a women’s prison.) the women were going, ‘Ooh, who’s he?’.
Jenny’ (James minder): “All these women who’ve been denied their conjugal rights for 15 years. If we ever play there, we’ll have to build a barbed wire fence around you.”
Is there something we don’t know? Why did a certain hotel refuse to hand over the undies Gavan left behind?
What is going on?