When he’s singing, Tim Booth has one of the most powerful voices in music. But offstage the James frontman is so softly spoken it’s almost advisable to be accompanied by a sign language expert.
Yet Booth has a lot to shout about. It might be 17 years and a few line-up changes since James first formed but Booth’s never been happier : gigs are fun again, the infighting has stopped and the band have made their most “amazing” album yet.
That’s what he says anyway.
“I think we’re about to go to a new level,” he whispers. “Which is odd for a group which has been going for as long as we have.
“The band is completely galvanised at the moment.”
Yet a year ago it was a different story.
“When we had the greatest hits album out, we were having a lot of arguments.
“In fact the time it went to Number 1 was one of the darkest weeks in the history of James. We didn’t enjoy it.”
Now though they’ve sorted things out and Booth seems poised for a repeat trip to the top of the album charts with the release of their Brian Eno co-produced album Millionaires. t continues the anthemic tradition of past successes like Born of Frustration and She’s A Star yet strangely sounds like nothing they’ve ever done before.
“We had so many good songs we actually had to throw away a lot which would have normally made it on.
“We’ve got about five potential singles on this album – we’ve come up trumps.”
Millionaires isn’t out until October, but fans can get a preview when James headline the Lizard Eclipse Event, alongside Kula Shaker and The Levellers on Rosuie Common in Cornwall next week.
“We’re playing the night before the eclipse and we’re really looking forward to that one,” he says.
The magnitude of such a momentous gig is not lost on Booth as he starts to get a touch philosophical.
“I believe things happen around these events, though not necessarily in the way we might think about it,” he says.
“I think that story in the papers the other week about those monkeys who’ve been taught to talk is incredible.
“If this is true then it’s going to change our whole perception of what we are. That is a truly cosmic event.”
Whatever happens, one thing’s certain. If James play Sit Down, there won’t be much to eclipse their show next week.