FOR a decade now, fans of the band James have been happily singing along to their biggest hit – the live anthem Sit Down.
But it was in Liverpool that the fans first established the now long-standing tradition of taking over from the band and doing singing duties all by themselves.
Lead singer Tim Booth says: “It was during a gig at the Royal Court, and basically the guitar broke. We had a choice of stopping the song, or slowing it down, which is what we did.
“We were quiet, so the crowd took over – they all chanted along and did it for us, and we picked it up with them. It happens at every gig now, but that was the first time. It was an amazingly emotional moment for all of us!”
It was the start of a long-standing relationship with Liverpool, where James have a massive fanbase. It will continue this summer when they play the Summer Pops on Sunday, July 8.
Tim says: “We have had some amazing times in Liverpool. The Royal Court has long been one of our favourite venues … even though it was the first time we ever saw rats while we were doing a soundcheck…”
The Summer Pops gig follows up on previous dates at the Court and at L2, both of which quickly sold out.
The band have also done sell-out stadium tours at venues like the Manchester Arena and at Wembley.
But despite their popularity, they are still having problems getting played on the radio, with their upcoming single, Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) and album, Pleased To Meet You.
“It is very odd, and unpleasant,” says Tim, “even though we can sell out these massive venues, getting airplay is difficult. We simply don’t fit into a niche. We are not a young, hip band.
“There seems to be a real stranglehold on the radio at the moment with manipulated, manufactured bands.
“In fact, I think the record companies are trying to do away altogether with bands – we’re too expensive, we argue, and we want our creative freedom. I think we’re being phased out!”
James are pretty much the opposite of a manufactured band. Their origins are in the 80s Manchester scene, where they initially signed to Factory, then Sire, and eventually Fontana.
Loosely speaking, they were part of the whole Madchester era that also spawned the likes of The Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses – but, years on, they are still going, and still producing new material instead of cashing in on nostalgia.
Their biggest hit came with Sit Down, but they also enjoyed great success with songs like Come Home and She’s A Star.
Their Greatest Hits album in 1998 went straight to number one. Their popularity has endured throughout.
Tim says: “I think our fans have stayed so loyal because of our live show. Some bands just go on to stage and do it, go through the motions, but with us it is still a celebration – every show is different, a new experience, and the fans keep coming back to enjoy the experience with us.”
The new album was recorded with legendary producer Brian Eno in the space of a few weeks – but the songs were road-tested on fans on a low-key tour.
Tim says: “It was like making our first album. We got the songs, we toured and played them to the fans, then worked on them some more. By the time we were ready to record, it didn’t take long. We are incredibly proud of it.
“We think this is one of our best albums yet. We are on top of the world.”