“My big concern was that we could communicate again. James always made great music, but the last couple of years weren’t fun.”
James split in 2001 but, in 2005, Larry Gott and Jim Glennie approached Tim Booth about making new music.
“I said no, then a year later Jim called again,” recalls Tim. “We met up for three days, and by the end of that we’d written 30 pieces of music.”
Initially, the trio weren’t going to call themselves James again.
“Then we began needing other players,” Tim explains. “And it was the obvious move to get, say, Mark on keyboards, because he’s the best player we knew.
“Once it became clear that we were reforming as James, that raised the expectations among ourselves. Any new music we made had to live up to the fond memories people had of us.”
Over 120 pieces were written for what would become new album Hey, Ma.
“We chose the most exuberant demos to develop,” says Tim, 48. “We wanted an album that would be uplifting live. To hell with false modesty – we’ve always been a great live band.
“But it shocked me that our first tour sold out so quickly, because as far as the media is concerned we don’t exist. We never did. James were never cool.”
In the years after James split, Tim released one solo album, wrote two screenplays and turned to acting – he played a villain in Batman Returns.
“We’re all better at communicating than we were seven years ago,” says Tim. “I’m a trained therapist as well as a singer, communication is vital to me.
“Becoming a father again is the biggest way I’ve changed. It’s made me see past a lot of things I hadn’t before.”
New single Waterfall describes a bout of skinnydipping Tim indulged in at a waterfall in Seattle.
“I had this sudden, unquenchable urge to swim,” laughs Tim. “I had a minute of ‘Should I?’ before startling the tourists and going for it.
“It’s a song about being washed clean, rebirth – which ties in with moving house a while back and being horrified at how much clutter I’d acquired.”
Tim happily admits he doesn’t have a clue what half his lyrics are about.
“I figure out years later what some of them mean,” he says.
“I got stopped at Manchester Airport customs once, and the guy pointed out – quite rightly – that the chorus of Sometimes has nothing to do with the rest of the song. He then said: ‘I’m more of a Morrissey man.’ That was brilliant. I mean, I’m more Nick Cave!”