Ready to finish off 1990 with a flourish are James. One-time prisoners of Factory Records, before being transported seemingly for life to the badlands of American major label Sire, James have grown up and lost a few like-minded souls on the way. And they have emerged in the past 18 months as a dead certainty for international recognition.
Monday sees the release of their third single for Fontana records. As their previous vinyl outings Come Home and How Was It For You? missed out on being big hits by a couple of hundred sales, is there any pressure for the band to have a top 20 smash with their new three-track EP?
James lead vocalist Tim Booth is quick to scotch that one:
“Not at all, really, in fact the record company wanted us to reissue Sit Down. But as our last single was a reissue, we felt it important to put something new out – only this time it’s an EP, although the A-side is called Lose Control.
“We’ve also done a different kind of cover of The Velvet Underground’s Sunday Morning, and I’ve put a few references on it to New York and drug addiction in a narrative at the end of the single, pertaining to the fact that I’m wandering the streets of New York looking for my man to score some sweet Jane, but he’s not around because it’s Sunday Morning. I think it’s less Lou Reed and more James.” So how successful are James at the moment?
“Well, it depends on what you call success? Our LP Gold Mother has gone silver. We were really pleased the way the album turned out, and we’ve already written most of the songs for our next album which we’ll be recording in January and will be produced by Gil Norton, who’s produced The Pixies stuff. Oh, and we are off for a tour of Russia just before Christmas, playing in Leningrad, Moscow and various other places in the frozen steppe lands.
Why would the Russians be interested in James? I thought they were all into Elton John, Billy Joel and Cliff Richard?
“Well, we’ll be a pleasant antidote to that kind of stuff. I’m looking forward to playing there, although we’ll be bringing cans of beans with us as there are some major food shortages there.”
Were you disappointed that How Was It For You? and Come Home weren’t hit singles?
“Yes, but only because we missed out on Top Of The Pops by a couple of places. We couldn’t get any daytime radio play for those particular singles, probably because of the sexual content in the lyrics, which was annoying as they weren’t sexual insofar as they were suggesting anything immoral. In fact, we missed out on having the video for How Was It For You shown on television as the video had me singing underwater. Probably afraid someone might copy me and drown.”
James have, it would seem, arrived to save pop from over-hype and stagnation. When they supported David Bowie at Maine Road this year, it was widely known that Mr Bowie selects his own support acts. They supported The Cure at Wembley and stole the show at Glastonbury. On the famous long-sleeved t-shirt front, Beats International had a couple of members performing on Top Of The Pops wearing James t-shirts, and the band are now in a position to easily sellout 2,000 capacity venues all over the country. So has Tim Booth changed over the past few years from overly thoughtful indie rebel to sexy growling rock n roller?
Tim laughs “Certainly not changed in that way. I think I’m mutating slowly.”