The hit-making seven piece line-up of James are back in the saddle. How goes the “big dysfunctional family” reunion?
A little older, a little less intense, the seven-strong “glory years” line-up of James are back touring and recording together. The Word’s photographer is gently persuading them to restage an old press photo from 1990. Singer Tim Booth got into a fight with their drummer on stage in the 80s, and when he auditioned a new one, a pianist and a trumpet player turned up too. Which is how they came by the big-top festival sound that defined hits like Sit Down and Come Home.
After further personnel change they ceased recording in 2001, by which time they had become “a big dysfunctional family”. Have they deliberately reformed the line-up that had the biggest hits? “I would never shape anything I do in order to please a commercial public,” declares Booth. (“Head to the left, that’s it!” the snapper barks)
Age hasn’t withered them much. “Maturity’s a funny word,” says Larry Gott, fingering roll-ups on the fire escape. He’s just happy the band can bear to be in the same room again. But Tim Booth has a faraway look in his eyes. He’s found a spiritual home in the hills of Topanga, LA County, where he’s worked with Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti. “Topanga’s full of amazing things – fires, snakes. I want to be there all the time…” Catch him before he disappears back up the mountain.