WHAT ARE YOU UP TO AT THE MOMENT?
“We’re recording in a studio in Surrey called The House In The Woods – foxes and their cubs come up to it every night to get food! We’ve hit the best patch of our relationship and communication, getting on as musicians, that we’ve ever had. We had Brian Eno in last week and it was intensive – 12 hour days with half-hour lunches. The concentration levels are incredible. He’s the world’s best producer. All the engineers were gobsmacked. We love the challenge of working with him.”
YOU RECENTLY SAID YOU STILL WANT TO CHALLENGE YOUR AUDIENCE – HOW?
“We’re going on this tour we booked ages ago – it’s a brave tour for us. It’s a small tour and it’s not going to be greatest hits. Finally, it’s like we’re doing a tour that will scare us witless! Cos we’re going to be trying out eight or nine new songs. We haven’t played Sit Down this year at all. We’re not going to shoot ourselves in the foot, but we love the new songs. We’re gonna record them as soon as we come off the tour.”
ARE YOU GOING TO INCLUDE YOUR VERSION OF “CHINA GIRL” IN THE SET?
“We’ve been putting together a greatest b-sides compilation and we stuck it on there. I just used to love that song – I must have seen Iggy Pop play it 15 times. I hate Bowie’s version, I think it’s crap. When you hear Iggy’s version and you know it’s probably about his relationship with heroin, it gives it a completely different bite and edge. It’s easy to improve on Bowie’s, but not on Iggy’s version. It didn’t go down that well though, so I don’t know if we’ll do it again.”
ARE YOU STILL PERTURBED ABOUT THE PRESS YOU GET?
“I think we got paranoid in a certain period. I didn’t realise we had so many front covers – now we’re not seen as new, so we don’t get that attention. We’re probably a bit pissed off about that, because we’re still making great music and that should be the criteria. I don’t read reviews now, I haven’t for four or five years – I don’t have an opinion. People have got that attitude ‘Oh, it’s just James’ which is frustrating.
WHAT’S THE SECRET OF YOUR CONTINUING POPULARITY?
“I think people just get the music – the celebratory nature of our concerts is not something many other bands can pull off. We’re perfectionists – we don’t let the crap go out, and we work hard to make sure the stuff is good and get good people to work with. And sometimes we’re paranoid – you just have to forgive us for that! Musicians get like that – they’re tetchy creatures, sensitive souls. It’s not nice when people don’t like you.