Not many bands can fill a venue the size of a small town.
With round about 18,000 people turning up at Manchester Evening News Arena to see the last concert with band JAMES it is really the best send off a group can have. As Tim Booth announced that he is leaving the band as the singer, many now assume that the band James is to end their 19-year career. In conversation with MICHAEL KULAS, guitarist and backing vocalist of the band, he does not rule out that the band might still go on.
We meet after the gig, which was recorded for a live CD and DVD/video to be released next year. Despite some technical glitches with guitarist/violinist Saul Davies’ equipment, the show was a real success. After two call-backs and a six songs encore, this was the band’s way of saying goodbye. Even if Michael is a late-comer in the band, he didn’t feel pushed out by the re-appearances of former members Larry Gott and Andy Diagram. “It felt good to see the band still making great music together and it also felt good to be a part of that. Obviously, to be five guitarists up on stage, that was a bit strange, but this gig wasn’t about the present James, it was James’ past as well” said Kulas after the gig. It is hard not to talk about the eminent split up of the band. Kulas has some things planned, but as he is wrapped up in playing with James, he is uncertain what he will do in the future.
Canadian-born Michael Kulas, joined the band in 1997 after having met Saul Davies in Toronto some years earlier. Davies produced Kulas’ first solo album “Mosquito” in 1994. Now living in Scotland, Kulas has plans for a third album with most of the songs already written . “ The songs have been written whilst I was recording with James for the “Pleased to meet you” album”, Kulas says, ”but it is going to be different than the other two albums I’ve done. My second album “Another Small Machine” was recorded in a small cottage during a short space of time, but this one will probably not be done that way. I think it is important to find a producer that you trust and someone whose opinions you value. Working with Brian Eno was like that.”
While writing songs, Kulas often finds that it is easy to get your mind into a certain “headspace” as he calls it. “That is why it is vital for me to get away a bit from what I am doing at the time. I must admit that I sometimes feel like my creativity has been drained a bit since I joined James. But as I will take some time off until February, I will be able to figure out what I want to do. I’ll probably put a band together here in the UK. Who with? Well, let’s say I’m not ruling out any former James members.”
As the subject of musical moulds and set ideas comes up, Kulas has a lot to say. “I do feel that it’s time for the music industry to get shook up a bit like when Nirvana first came out. The sound that followed that has had a major impact on so many people. Now, with the likes of S Club 7 and Steps, there is a risk of that not happening. But at the moment there is just such a big back catalogue of great music, it’s a shame that a band such as The Strokes isn’t capable of doing something original with it. There is really no excuse for a band nowadays to sound exactly as something thirty years ago.”