Tim Booth — vocals
Jim Glennie — bass
David Baynton-Power — drums
Saul Davies — violin
Mark Hunter — keyboards
Adrian Oxaal — guitar
Michael Kulas — guitar
Stoked by the success of 1993’s Laid and convinced that they’d followed it up with one of the best albums of their career in the new Whiplash, the members of James were poised to conquer America this spring when singer Tim Booth was waylaid by some damaged nerves in his neck.
“When the tour fell through, and before we had Lollapalooza, we thought, ‘Oh shit, that’s the end of it on this record. We’ll never be able to come back to the States again!” he says. “And about two days later, Lollapalooza was confirmed. We’ve always been a live band, and now we’ve got a second chance to prove it.”
It’s been 15 years since James formed in Manchester, England, and released its first recordings on the legendary Factory Records. Over the course of eight albums, the group has never stopped changing and evolving; indeed, its last two Brian Eno-produced records, Laid and Wah Wah, opened new creative vistas, introducing elements of ambient music and studio improvisation to the group’s always expansive folk-rock. But Booth believed that in order to move on, his bandmates needed even more freedom. So Jim Glennie, David Baynton-Power, Saul Davies, Mark Hunter, and Adrian Oxaal were left to start Whiplash on their own (aided by producer Stephen Hague and abetted once again by “frequent interferer and occational co-producer” Eno), while their singer toiled on Booth and the Bad Angel, his solo project with Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti.
“It’s just that I got bogged down with the responsibility of it [all],” Booth says, “I put to much on my shoulders. It just takes a stepping back. When I walked away from James and said, ‘You guys have to run this for a while, I am going to make a record with Angelo’, they found a new way of working through it with each other where they shared it a lot more. That hadn’t happened before, and it was a huge relief.”
Now the group has come together again, stronger than ever and joined by another new member, backing singer and guitarist Michael Kulas.
“The last British tour we did was probably the best we have ever done, ” Booth says. “It was much more aggressive live than what we had been. We had a good break, and when we came back from it we really appreciated the band we were in. It’s very healthy at the moment.” Except, of course, when Booth twists his neck in a certain way. …