Jim : My name’s Jim from James. It’s named after me actually because I’m the most talented and best looking in the band.
So I started playing bass guitar and about two weeks after I got it, we did our first gig, we couldn’t do anything, after two weeks of playing guitar you can’t do anything, nothing. We practised in the scout hut and the scoutmaster used to play acoustic guitar and sit round singing “Gingangooly”. We used to get him to tune the guitars then carry them on the bus trying not to bang the machine heads and knock them out of tune. So I got him to tune the bass and we went and did this gig. The singer, I got this lad to sing and he decided he wasn’t going to do it, totally bottled out, so I volunteered to sing, so I got really pissed, totally ratarsed and got up and made some noises in the microphone. The British Legion in Eccles.
Larry : I’d been in quite a few bands and I decided I was going to give up and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I started to give guitar lessons. Paul, the original guitarist, and Jim were my first pupils and I began to realise they weren’t responding to it, playing chords in a certain way, they had their own distinctive style. They invited me down to a couple of practices and that’s where the trouble really started. I went down to the practice and I expected them to be doing things like influential covers and whatever and after about five minutes or something like that they’d play this noise and certain things you could start hearing music in it. It was very random, very abstract but there was something in it.
Tim : We’ve got a tradition, that’s how we feel. We’re really proud of all our old records, right from the start, the awkward ones as much as now. And we just follow our path and we can’t alter that path to get rich or to get famous. Our path is our path.
Jim : We think we’ve managed to keep some integrity as people and in the music through a lot of hard times and we have gone through a lot of hard times. And you know we think the music’s great. We think the music’s very special.
Obviously there’s going to be a lot of challenges there and a lot of rubbish individually that we’ve got to come to terms with. I mean if you’ve got like tonight you’ve got 12,000 people telling you how amazing you are, it’s hard not to rub off and for you to go “Yeah, I am, aren’t I?”
Larry : Sometimes I think we really deserve it when we do a fantastic concert and I know the audience are cheering, they’re not just cheering us, they’re cheering what’s been happening, what’s coming off the stage, what reaction it’s having. And that they’re being lifted, you’re being lifted and it really comes together.
There’s different kinds of relationships within the three of us. Sometimes I’ve been closer to Tim, other times I’ve been closer to Jim. It changes a lot like that. Now there’s seven of us, the interaction is that much greater. There are some very solid friendships and there are some acquaintances.
If there’s one thing we got criticised for around 1985-86 from people who saw us live, they loved what we were doing but we were very insular. The audience just stood and watched these people on stage and there was no interaction between us and the audience whatsoever. And it was a criticism that got through to us that we can’t stand in the audience and see how we are and we could tell from what they were saying that yes it was true. So in a way we had to learn to open up what we were doing on stage to the audience so that they could see what was going on.
Tim : Adrenalin produces a fight or flight reaction. and we tend to fight. But you get this kind of “Woooaaahhh”, real buzz.
The people who come and see our concerts, they have really high expectations. You know you’ve got to top the gig you did last time, it’s at that level.
The lyrics are quite hard and they’re often self-critical or self-abusive. So I think the audience wouldn’t think I was a particularly nice person. I don’t try to make myself out to be a particularly nice person. I just try to write lyrics that reflect me. Some of them are not nice and some of them are. Some of them are funny and some of them are quite depressed. There’s a big variety in there.
The early James, for years we used to hate it. And we used to keep out heads down and play and keep really quiet and I used to dance very aggressively.
But now most of the concerts are really good but only a few of them are magical. For us. You can’t sleep. That’s the whole night gone and you’re not going to sleep. And you just feel very alive. And that’s wonderful.