Shaun : On the telephone line now as promised, it’s a pleasure and a privilege to introduce, I think it’s fair to say, an icon of the independent music scene, distinctive voice of a generation, all the way from Brighton, Tim Booth. Are you there Tim?
Tim : I am indeed. That’s a drumroll introduction, thank you
S : It was good, wasn’t it?
T : Yeah very good
S : To be fair, I think you deserve even better than that. It’s all I could come up with my tired brain.
T : You’ve swelled my head for the day.
S : Well, we were very lucky to have, it’s my first week on this breakfast show, the world exclusive of the brand new James single “Who Are You” on Monday and it went down an absolute storm, it’s fair to say. How long has it taken to get you guys back in the same practice space?
T : Well, we split really in 2000. I thought it was permanent. But luckily, we always said “never say never” because you just can’t guess. To all intents and purposes that was it. And then, literally last October, a whole series of events came together that would be too long and boring to relay on radio that meant I found myself in a practice room with Jim and Larry who were the co-founders with me in nineteen eighty whatever it was. And we kind of jammed for a few days and talked and it went from there really.
S : Because I’m sure the fear is always, and with you as a bit of an innovative artist, that it’s going to be a faded former glory. But obviously it felt really good, the chemistry when you got back together.
T : Yeah, I guess I’m too arrogant to believe in those fears and I live in a bubble of self-delusion
S : Don’t we all?
T : And it cushioned and comforted me very nicely from the outside world.
S : I do that a lot as well, I must admit. So it was quite easy then to get together with these guys again, playing
T : The only thing I was concerned about was our relationship, because James, towards the end of it’s time, had become a very dysfunctional family. You know, a few individuals, there was a lot of the usual rock n roll excesses. We were a bit damaged and we had a mad democracy, seven people, that meant no decisions got made. And the important thing was how would this work, first of all where are people after six years and who wants to be on board this. Because this is going to be hard work and it’s going to be making great music again and who is capable of that. So that took a bit of fathoming. And working out relationships and being very vigilant about changing the old patterns that had set in, the entropy that had bugged us.
I knew once that had happened it was fine. Once we got jamming in a room together it was incredible. Jim, Larry and I, the first six or seven years of James we improvised four or five hours a day five days a week and that’s how we learnt to play. We were literally untaught and very naive.
S : Did you go back to that type of technique again?
T : Totally, within three days, we’d written the seeds of thirty songs.
S : My God. On the back of that, are you looking forward to touring with these guys again? Or is there a certain amount of trepidation, what is it going to be like?
T : I think it’s going to be fantastic. We’ve already done warm-up gigs and we’ve rehearsed a lot to get us back to a high level. And we’re going back to the James of the Laid album, that was the last time we played together like this where Larry is back in the band. Everyone is very excited and very lean and hungry. If we weren’t, we wouldn’t be onboard. This is not an old-style reunion. We’re coming back to make some great music again.
S : With a new song, off the strength of that, it’s absolutely brilliant. We genuinely did, and it’s easy to say this to an interviewee, but we genuinely did get a lot of love off the back of that. We noticed that it’s one new song on the Best Of, you are writing new music though, you said. Together, with a view to another album, I take it.
T : When we got together, me, Jim and Larry, the idea wasn’t to reform James. It was writing an album together, maybe just the three of us. And then somebody said that Mercury were going to re-release the album, the Greatest Hits stuff and singles. So, suddenly, we got involved in a whole business plan that really wasn’t our intention. It had solely been to make new music. What we’ve got with Mercury, we’ve got them to release a double cd of all our singles chronologically and then they release a more commercial single cd that is more for the those who don’t know James as well.
S : The less hardcore.
T : We’ve done two tracks. The track you’ve got, we’re very proud of that. The other track is something I think you’ve not heard James do before. Really different.
S : We certainly can’t wait for it. We’ve been badgered by James fans since 7am when we came on air. We’ve had numerous missives. One from Kirsty Pheasant here. Ask Tim if he’s going to play a different set list every night for the dedicated who are going to multiple gigs on this tour. Will you be changing the setlist around quite a lot?.
T : This is a thing we always used to do. As you get bigger, it gets a bit harder to do because you’ve got lights and you’ve got things programmed. We will be playing different songs every night but I don’t know how many. Once we play songs and they start to sound great to us, it’s very difficult to drop that tomorrow. But we will definitely be switching it around, we’ve learnt something like forty songs. It’s a much wider catalogue than we’ve been using in the last number of years of James.
S : Brilliant, she’s also apparently made you and the band some t-shirts that we need to get to you. We can talk about that off air. Louise in Kinghorn asked why all the warm ups are in Scotland and if you will do the new Connect Festival in Scotland at the end of August?
T : Which is the Connect Festival? Is that in Aberdeen or somewhere?
S : I think that’s the one actually. Are you going to be doing many festivals over the summer period?
T : Yeah, we are. We’ve been given some really great festival slots. I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about them. I’m going to talk about them because noone has said that I can’t. We’re on V and we’re third on the bill to Kasabian and The Killers, which is great. And we’ve got some really great positions up and down the country. So yeah, we’re moving fast. We were shocked really. We put 35,000 tickets on sale and they went within two hours for the tour and that was a complete shock to us. It was “oh my God” that there were that many people willing to snap it up that quickly.
S : It’s wonderful to know after all these years. You must begin to worry at some point if the interest is still there. That proved it certainly is.
T : What you hope is that you’ve made music that lasts longer than the 15 minutes of fame that Andy Warhol prescribed. You always hoped we were doing that, making music that lasted and I think, my ego, likes to think that’s what happened.
S : Hopefully you’ll blow Sting and Andy Summers out of the water with the Police tour their tour. I think definitely James is the most anticipated one of all the reunions. Certainly based on the feedback we’ve been getting. Thank you very much indeed for talking to us this morning Tim. We wish you the very best of luck this year and we hope to catch you at one of the gigs.