Take four slightly weird individuals, get them to write some ‘extraordinary’, ‘climatic’ songs, and you have James. Phew, says Johnny Dee.
There is no way you can tie a label around James. Maybe because of this, past interviews have centred around myth-making. The last time they appeared in rm they wore ‘ultra-bright’ knitwear in the photos, said they were inspired by the ‘Trumpton’ theme tune and there was talk of Buddhism and veganism. All of this was, of course, tongue in cheek – it just went a bit far.
When you look at a lot of bands you see a team – an identity. When you look at James you see four completely opposite looking people – four individuals, with different tastes and lives. Somehow they formed a group together – combining their four different ideas into one struggling whole. Most groups, finding themselves in this situation, would split up. For James, it is their key. They argue continuously, particularly Gavan (the drummer) who is quite ‘laddy’ and into ‘fast cars’, and lead singer Tim, who is quite a philosopher. It only stops when bassist Jim or guitarist Larry step in to mediate. Example:
Tim (tongue placed firmly in cheek): “Jesus lads, I can’t go on like this, it has to end!”
Gavan: “I think you’re hypersensitive.”
Tim: “I’m hypersensitive? God, what about you?”
Gavan: “If things were easy we wouldn’t be where we are.”
Jim: “There’d be a lot less pain and friction.”
Gavan: “Yeah, but that’s art isn’t it?”
Tim: “In the West maybe, but in the East it doesn’t have to be pain and strife.”
Gavan: “You’re joking, you’re joking!”
The argument continues. Rock ‘n’ roll mythology comes in for cross examination next:
Tim: “Rick Astley has got a mythology.”
Gavan: “But he’s a f***ing twat.”
Tim: “He uses jet set Campari mythology.”
Gavan: “He doesn’t.”
Tim: “He does.”
Gavan: “He doesn’t, he doesn’t!”
Tim: “His videos are like adverts for Tunisian holidays!”
James are about to release an album called ‘Strip Mine’, 10, extraordinary songs that travel lyrically from Tim’s head, past his nipples, naughty bits and down to his toes.
Tim: “I’m a human being – I’ve got all these parts on me, I carry them around and inspect them every now again and write about them.”
Live, James are the nearest you can get to spontaneous combustion. Often one member of the band will start a completely new, unheard song and the rest will join in. Other times, things just click, unbelievably, into place.
Larry: “Sometimes it becomes so easy. Everything sounds fantastic when it meshes together.”
Tim: “Live, sometimes it’s just ‘ah’, it’s just ‘there’.”
It all sounds very sexual.
Tim: “It is, it is!”
Jim: “Our songs are very climactic.”
Gavan: “It’s synthesised sex.”
Tim: “It’s really hard after three songs to keep it going.”
Jim: “You keep thinking, ‘we’re gonna lose it, we’re gonna lose it’… And then you’ve lost it.”
Tim: “It’s really awful if you come off stage and you’ve ‘come’ and everybody else goes ‘bloody awful gig’.”
James are totally enthusiastic about their music. They get excited even talking about it. What do they think other people get from James?
Gavan: “A buzz they can’t get elsewhere.”
Tim: “In the past we’ve been a bit shy selling ourselves. Now, we can say ‘it’s brilliant’.”
But is there a place for James in the giddy pop world?
Gavan: “Yeah. Number one – that’s our place.”
Ladies, gentlemen, and disillusioned vegans – I give you James – a weird recipe of fun and naughty bits. Take some home with you.