Frontman Tim Booth may have decided to hang up his vocal chords after two decades with James, one of Manchester’s most enduring acts, but having delivered an appropriate farewell to fans in the form of a live double CD, the remaining members promise the band still has plenty to offer.
Emerging from Manchester’s now infamous Factory Records in the 1980s, James have morphed from indie darlings with the baggy era anthem Sit Down to strong, classic writers thanks to the lusting folk of Laid, the longing Out to Get You and the life-affirming Tomorrow and made more comebacks from bruisings than Rocky Balboa.
With this in mind, says bassist Jim Gleenie, James as an entity will progress to new heights yet again.
“We’re having a break now but we will look for a new singer. Tim’s left but we will carry on. It was an easy decision to make for us.
“The live album and DVD put a line in the sand. It’s the end of a chapter for James. We don’t want a Tim-a-like and become a parody of ourselves. We will pick someone relevant for the next phase of what we do.
“It sounds exciting to be doing this, finding a new person, but there’s no pressure on us to do it at the moment.”
The latest release is an emotional farewell to Tim. A live performance of the line-up’s final Manchester Arena gig, recorded in December 2001, it captures the exuberance and poignancy of a James show, especially as the group are rejoined by former members Andy Diagram and guitarist Larry Gott for the night.
“It wasn’t a surprise when Tim wanted to go,” says Jim. “He had been distracted by other things he wants to do like acting and screenplay writing and saw it wouldn’t be fair on the rest of the band. It was an amicable parting.”
And, although capturing James live seems like putting the ideal full stop on this era of the band, Jim wasn’t so sure to begin with.
“We were wary of recording a live album because it might have been miserable even though we wanted it to be a party and a celebration but I think we’ve pulled it off – it is celebratory,” he says.
In fact, you could say, as the title of the live album suggests, they are Getting Away With It, and, having ridden the wave of changing line-ups and record labels for 15 years, this institution of the British alternative music scene are more than adept to dealing with what the future holds, possibly, according to Jim, trying out new ideas with several low-key shows in Manchester when they decide the time is right.
“We’ve always felt we had something to prove musically and we would keep challenging and pushing ourselves,” he adds.
“Tim leaving was when I realised how much this band means to me and the history of the band deserves another chapter. There’s a legacy to continue and it’s invigorating.
“When we come back and present people with something new they’ll see it works.
“We’re in no rush or panic. It’s about moving forward.”
Getting Away With It… Live by James is out now.