THEY’RE best known for their breakthrough hit, the crowd pleaser Sit Down, as well as Laid, Come Home, She’s A Star, Born of Frustration and Say Something.
But 1990s favourites James are not a band to rest on their laurels.
One of the UK’s most creative bands, known for their diverse style over 13 studio albums, they’ve been back in the studio, are back on the road and back on the festival circuit.
Girl At the End of the World is the latest offering from the seven piece Manchester indie band.
They’re touring the UK with it, heading to Bournemouth’s 02 Academy on Tuesday, and are playing the coveted opening slot at Glastonbury this year.
And guitarist, violinist and percussionist Saul Davies is thrilled with the band’s 14th offering.
“I think it’s a development from our last record and it’s a really good record. I’m proud to have been partly responsible for making it and it seems to be getting a very positive response from people, which is not something we take for granted.
“It’s a brave record in the sense that sonically it probably doesn’t sound like a traditional James record. I guess some people might find that a little bit annoying, but I like it a lot. We’re very happy with it.”
The band, who rose up through The Haçienda days, have racked up 12 million record sales and weathered a five-year split, have been in the rehearsal room putting the finishing live touches to the new tracks.
But they’re careful not to over rehearse.
“A real stage energy works well for us, the sense of surprise, the feeling that something might go wrong. A lot of energy comes from that and it’s one of the reasons our live shows are really good. It’s a mixture of confidence and familiarity and a bit of danger! It’s what being an artist is all about!”
Davies retains a hint of the Liverpool accent of his birth, although he now lives in Scotland, where he grew up. Talking with an occasional stutter, he tells me: “I’m more nervous in every day life than I am being on stage. Nerves are not something we suffer from, more a nervous energy. If you walk into our dressing room with five minutes to go before a big show, it would be more like expectation than anything. ”
James originally signed to the iconic Factory Records in 1982 and went on to produce a string of massive hit singles. They have always been renowned for their stunning live show.
More than 30 years on, has it every gone horribly wrong?
“Oh yeah” laughs Saul. There’s been tech that breaks down or worse. In the early 90s, half of us were playing Born of Frustration in the wrong key and it sounded awful. We started having words!
“We headlined the Saturday night at Reading Festival once (in 1991) and not many bands get to do that. Say it’s been going from 1970 to 2016, then only 46 bands can say they have done that and we’re one of them. How amazing is that?
“But we basically played every song on a new album (Seven) that we hadn’t even finished recording yet and we didn’t quite know how to play it. It was a challenging show. Although one of my mates who was backstage loved it when I thought we’d blown it, apart from the b side Maria’s Party.
“You can’t please everyone all of the time. But we love digging up ancient b sides and making them into classics. Our audience demand the unexpected. The last thing James want to do is trundle out all the hits, but you should certainly expect some surprises.”