Tim Booth fronted Manchester band James for almost 20 years before announcing that he was leaving the group late last year.
A farewell tour followed – giving fans a final chance to see him perform indie rock anthems such as Sit Down and She’s A Star – songs that established the band as firm festival favourites during the 1990s.
Six months on from his departure, Booth has no regrets about leaving – and is relishing the opportunity to push himself in new directions.
James was a very democratic band but it could be an unwieldy beast
“I love writing music, but not only music,” says the singer – who has been working on a screenplay during his time away from the band.
“It’s been optioned by a couple of young film producers, but I don’t want to talk about it too much as that would be tempting fate.
“Let’s just say the plot is somewhere between American Beauty and Grosse Point Blank.”
Back on more familiar territory, he is also working on material for a new album with a young musician called KK.
“I’ve been listening to lots of ambient and experimental music lately,” says Booth, who previously worked independently of the band on the 1996 album Booth And The Bad Angel – recorded with Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti.
“James was a very democratic band but it could be an unwieldy beast,” he says. “It’s more straightforward working with just one or two people.”
Looking back on his career with James, he is proud of albums such as Laid – where they worked with producer Brian Eno for the first time – and much of the band¿s later work.
But he has reservations about some of their earlier efforts from the 80s.
“I’m still really proud of some early songs – like Hymn From A Village,” he says.
“But recently I heard some early John Peel sessions where I tried to improvise lyrics. They were pretty naff.”
The tradition in Manchester is for bands to be incredibly bloody-minded
James was among a host of successful indie bands to emerge from Manchester in the 1980s and 90s – from The Smiths and the Stone Roses to the Inspiral Carpets and the Happy Mondays – yet Booth says he never felt part of any musical movement.
“Movements tend to burn out quickly,” he said. “This was more like a group of independent-minded bands which respected each other.
“The tradition in Manchester is for bands to be incredibly bloody-minded.
“Joy Division and The Fall inspired us in the early days with this approach, and later the Mondays were very much in that mould.”
During his years with James, Booth established a reputation as an intense and charismatic live performer, but what emotions does he go through on stage?
“Everything at once,” he says. “I’m usually terrified beforehand and love it once I’m there. It can be incredibly exciting.
“For the first seven years we were together I hated what I did on stage. It took a long while for me to learn to take that energy from the people watching us and turn it into gold.
“Over the past 10 years it just got better and better.”
Booth felt added pressure on his farewell tour with the band, which included a show in their home city that was recorded for a new DVD release.
“There were loads of technical problems before we played – everything kept breaking down.
“But it was a beautiful show and we felt that it captured the true spirit of the band for posterity.
“It’s great to leave a record like that, because the live shows were central to what James was about. Until we got the live performances sorted out we never felt we were a real band.”