GC – James live in the 6 Music hub. Good to have you back. Reading Jim’s tour diary it seems that the shows have gone as, well, as good as you could’ve imagined. Has it been a good tour for you?
Tim – Yeah, ecstatic really, amazing. You know, I don’t know what to say.
GC – When you made the announcement of the tour and then waited, I’m not sure if there was much of a gap between the announcement and waiting for the tickets to go on sale. Were you at all nervous, or apprehensive about what the response would be?
Tim – Yeah, the promoter booked us in those dates and we were like are you sure we can fill out the Manchester Evening News building and do all these gigs and then they sold out within two hours. We were suitably shocked I think.
GC – It shows…. Within two hours, that’s up there with Take That[general laughter]
Tim – Take This!
GC – We’ll wait and see when the Streisand tickets go on sale, whether they can beat James. We’ll have to see.
Saul – We had a huge guest list though as well.
GC – Can I just chart the history of you getting back together. Jim, Larry and you started things back up again when abouts?
Jim – We carried on playing together after the band ended in 2001. It went wonderfully well, but we had no singer. Larry and I camped outside Tim’s house and mithered him till he eventually gave in
Larry – Blackmailed him, kidnapped his kids things like that. Till he said yes.
Jim – When the injunction was lifted….
GC – And then, what, you were back and playing, did it feel right from the get-go?
Tim – Yeah, once I got my kids back, it was fine. I went up to Manchester and said lets meet in a rehearsal room, because that was always a good way for us to communicate, and in three days we had thirty songs. It was the seeds of songs that we knew were really great. Then literally in the middle of that we were told that Simon Moran had booked all these slots for us without telling us he was going to do it, without anyone warning us.
GC – You mentioned the new material and this is very much about making new music isn’t it?
Tim – Yes. We even had doubts whether it would be under the name James and Jimmy in particular didn’t want to do these gigs. We had to really persuade him. It took about a month or so for him to say OK.
GC – How did you persuade Jim? How was that done?
Tim – We took his kids, it works really well in this band.
Jim – Threats of violence. It works very well.
Tim – And we didn’t want it to be like the first thing about James is another greatest hits package and so we had to work that out with Mercury. And finally they agreed to put out a double CD of all the singles dating from the Factory stuff that we felt was really good because there were singles out there worth about £90 ‘cos you couldn’t get hold of them. We wanted to make them available to everybody.
GC – And the new songs? How have they been going down live? They sound really good.
Tim – Amazing. We’ve even been playing a new one where we were writing it every day and I’d go on with a lyric sheet and play it. It’s all going great.
GC – You mentioned the old stuff featuring on this new compilation as well and airing and playing those songs again. You played a secret gig in Manchester earlier this week and played If Things Were Perfect among other things. Have you been playing that all the while?
Tim – Dotted around gigs. It was particularly for when we played Brixton two nights running and Glasgow two nights running. We knew there’d be about 500 people that would come to both. So it’s always nice to have, like, six or seven songs different in a set each night. We changed our set every night. This is the whole thing about James. It’s not a performance as in this polished thing that bears no relevance to the audience you’re facing each night. The idea is to make a set that reflects our mood, reflects the audience and the gig will change very much each night as we go on.
GC – What about that audience? You all look very well. I imagine some of the audience members are filling out their vintage t – shirts delightfully and some are seeing you live for the first time as well. Did you get a sense of that mix going on?
Larry – Very much.
Tim – Parents are bringing their kids along. There were loads of youngsters around which was really sweet. It really spanned the ages. I saw a 70 year old guy in there and I saw lots of young kids.
GC – Are you still technically an unsigned band at the moment?
Tim – We are technically the biggest unsigned band in Britain at the moment. We’re in the middle of a deal at the moment. This is what happened when James broke. When we first had Sit Down, we were selling out G-Mex, you know, five, six thousand seater venues, yet we were unsigned in the country. So it’s a nice full circle for us.
GC – That means lots of festival shows this summer and then recording and releasing a record early next year. Is that the plan?
Tim – Yeah, that’s the basic plan.
GC – Has the music industry changed in the last 24 years, would you say?
Tim – Oh yeah.
GC – For the better or for the worse do you reckon?
Tim – It really varies. The first seven years of James we got one play on daytime radio. We were seen as too leftfield to be played on radio. And then we broke and Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and REM and suddenly we almost became the mainstream and you couldn’t get us off the radio and it just really varies. Now Radio 1 have this policy of not playing anything over the age of 24 year olds. You know, attention span of a goldfish. And like, now it’s much more niched and James have never fitted in niches, which has always been tricky.
Jim – There’s lots of differences. The fact that you don’t just need a major label now. People can get music through the internet. Everything’s changed a lot and of course there’s a lot more radio… [inaudible due to Jim’s microphone not working]
GC – The only thing you’re facing Jim is some sort of mike sabotage. The bass player’s been silenced.
Tim – The only thing is though, I also say is, I don’t think music’s declined. A couple of years ago was one of the best years for music I’ve ever heard with Martha Wainwright’s album, Antony Johnson’s, Micah P Hinson, Arcade Fire. There’s some great music around.
GC – There’s too much, there’s too much, but keep it coming everybody. It’s great to have you back.