Snap, Cackle And Pop popped round to James frontman Tim Booth’s house for a bit of chat with him and guitarist Saul Davies.
After coming to prominence as part of the Madchester scene in the late eighties, James outlived their baggy contemporaries and have now put 16 years behind them.
Tim : I don’t know how we’ve kept together this long. The first seven years we made no money and it didn’t matter to us. We were doing things that we loved passionately so we’d carry on doing them and then we had success and it’s almost much harder from then to deal with success and balance all those things out.
And with Sit Down the anthem of 1990, their gigs packed out with a sea of those famous flowery t-shirts, the band decided it was time to try and crack America.
Saul : We just think we had a lot of critical success and it was married to sales, big sales in the early nineties and going off to America, which was a wonderful experience for us, you know we went on tour with Neil Young and did all sorts of amazing things, went to places I never thought I would go to, never mind playing.
Abandoning big stadium gigs in Britain for the smaller crowds of the States gave bands like U2 and Oasis the chance to take the megastardom tag that seemed destined for James.
Tim : You see, I don’t see James as having made any mistakes, I see James as having been James which is having their own path and I don’t see any problem in not being as huge and famous as Oasis. I wouldn’t trade places with Noel or Liam for any amount of money. Because that’s not what it’s about for me.
But with Noel reportedly inspired to form a band after seeing a James soundcheck and Morrissey calling them the “greatest band in the world”, the boys are aware of the influence they’ve had on the music of the last decade.
Tim : It’s great when your peers, when Neil Young takes you on tour or when Noel Gallagher says what he says and Morrissey. You know lots of bands have the signed t-shirts from the Dominion concert and you know really sweet things we get and that’s really gratifying as a musician.
And with their recent Best Of album already platinum, there are more fave James tunes than you might expect.
Saul : I think that’s probably a process that people have bought the album, have listened to it and were vaguely familiar with Sit Down or whatever and suddenly kind of thought “Oh my God, I remember what I was doing when this came out” and it would send some shockwaves through people’s lives as well that process, which is a really good one.
And their new single Runaground looks set to follow the fate of the other 17 singles on the album.
Tim : We didn’t get to ride any of the horses. But we got to sit in the beautiful Irish pubs and see the Irish culture.