MENTION James and many people only know the big hit Sit Down, an anthem of the student disco that was hijacked nightly by heavily imbibed young men.
But with a career that includes ten studio albums, 20 UK Top 40 singles and 12 million albums sales, James, who formed in 1982 when 16-year-old bass player Jim Glennie found singer Tim Booth dancing wildly at a club, have clearly achieved a lot more besides.
Indeed, James have always been a thinking man’s band, something that wasn’t lost on Tony Wilson, the music mogul behind some of Manchester’s most successful bands, who offered them a deal with the legendary Factory label.
“It has been weird, the media’s attitude over the years,” singer Booth says when asked why they never got the credit – or the credibility – they deserved. “I think it’s partly because we never went in for public car crashes. Even when we had our differences, we tried to keep them private, so there was never a story there.
“Also,” he continues, “with a lot of cool bands, part of their being cool is this attitude of not giving a f***, whereas James have never been about that. We’ve always really cared about what we do, about making it as good as we possibly can.”
Before they drop new mini-album The Night Before on 19 April, the band step out on a UK tour that kicks off at the Corn Exchange, a venue they have played several storming gigs at down the years.
“We are getting to re-visit some venues for the first time in ages,” enthuses James guitarist Larry Gott, adding that the tour will serve as a warm-up for a summer spent playing some of the world’s biggest music festivals, including Isle of Wight and Latitude.
James have always been a force to be reckoned with on the live stage, and their comeback gigs a few years back went a long way to silencing those who had them marked as indie’s great underachievers.
The seven-piece have played some storming gigs in the Capital over the years, too, their show at the Corn Exchange in 2007 being among the most memorable.
Just 15 minutes before going on stage that night, the band were told that Tony Wilson had lost his battle with cancer, and dedicated the song Bubbles, with its defiant chorus of ‘I’m Alive’, to his memory.
“We’ll never play that song again so well,” said Booth in the aftermath. “Tony was Manchester. There’s no one to replace him. It’s the end of a chapter.”