Anyone in the music industry can tell you about the importance of high quality recording. Just ask James. No, James isn’t a person, James is a rock band that earned a huge following in Europe by playing at large outdoor festivals, featuring such popular stars as David Bowie and The Cure. We recently caught up with James backstage at the Roxy Club here in Hollywood during their first tour of the US.
It’s been ten years since the British rock group James made their first recording entitled Village Fire. In 1990, the band’s third studio outing Gold Mother went platinum in the UK. Jim Glennie, bass guitarist, explains that James love for their music has paid off.
Jim : After all these years. That’s what’s fuelled us basically. Over the ten years we’ve been together. It’s the enjoyment of the music. I mean in England we’ve had quite a few problems with the business side of things, record companies and the radio kind of ignoring us. But we love what we do.
Their fourth album, entitled Seven, includes the UK Top Ten single Sound and has sparked a successful debut US tour. When the group recently performed at an outdoor concert in San Francisco, the fans enthusiastic reception came unexpectedly to the lads from Manchester.
Jim : They were really wild. The action was really wild. They were throwing flowers at us on stage and getting on the stage and grabbing hold of us. You know chasing us back to the hotel. And it was like, it was really weird. It was really strange, because you don’t know what to expect. You come over here and think yeah if you get people along, it’s like they’ll be stood there like “Come on then, impress us” and you have to win them over. But yeah, there’s a section there that are just really loyal, really loyal dedicated James fans and that’s strange.
At a recent soundcheck before their concert in Los Angeles, guitarist Larry Gott explained how the group developed their own sound.
Larry : It’s kind of like, it’s something that occurs naturally. It wasn’t something that we went looking for.
Jim adds that the group has a really relaxed way of coming up with new songs
Jim : You know that’s how we write. We don’t set aside time for writing as such as it doesn’t really work like that. I mean we do it in little bites. A few days at a time because you can’t just put the hours in and then the songs appear. It’s like they’re either there when you pick up your guitar or they’re not.
New songs can even come along at rehearsals such as this one.
Larry : We were just like jamming around and I know it sounded like a bit of a mess, but sometimes it really comes together and we tape it and listen back to it. And there’s a song in there somewhere.
And how has James dealt with their new found popularity? According to Jim and Larry, it’s as easy as remembering what it’s all about.
Jim : If you bring it back down to the core of what you’re doing. Writing and playing music. You know, it’s not flying off round the world giving interviews and being here and being there. It’s writing songs and playing music.
Larry : Yeah, you can get lost in promotion and image. And all that sort of stuff.
Even though staying in the spotlight can mean work, work and even more work, the members of James still consider it a whole lot of fun.
Larry : The way people describe us as playing music. Using the word playing music, not performing or constructing music, you know what I mean, it’s playing and that’s what it’s like, it’s playing.
Tim Booth, the lead singer of the rock group James says he compares his group to the E-Street Band which up to a couple of years ago performed with rock superstar Bruce Springsteen. Booth says both his group and the E-Street Band is comprised of players who are talented enough to front bands of their own. It’s true.