November 2001, by Diane Parkes, © Birmingham Evening Mail
TIM RUNS OUT!
James’ singer Tim Booth is hanging up his microphone and leaving the best-selling band after 20 years. He tells Diane Parkes why
James have long been the stalwarts of the Indie scene. While bands have come, gone or completely changed their image you could depend on James for a solid album, a handful of singles and a pre-Christmas tour.
Their autumn album Please To Meet You has been critically acclaimed and they have a string of much-loved hits including Sit Down, Come Home, Laid and She’s A Star. But this stability has been thrown into disarray by the announcement that singer Tim Booth is to quit the band after this December’s tour, which includes a date at the NEC on Thursday.
“I just though 20 years was an obscene length of time to spend with a band,” he says. “I felt like it was time to move on before the band droops. We did a gig in Athens recently and it was the best one we had done and we have the latest album and I wanted to go out with a bang rather than a whimper at some point.”
“It wasn’t anything I had been planning for a long time, it was a highly instinctive choice. It just came to me over the summer that I should leave. It came as a shock to me and I came over all queer. I spent a week of insecurity trying to decide what to do and then I felt it was right.”
But how did the rest of the band respond?
“They were pretty surprised. I don’t think any of them had suspected it at this time. Three or four years ago we were having a harder time and then they would not have been so surprised. It was really hard telling them. But they were all really good about it and have been supportive. We are ending on very good terms and will keep in touch.”
So have we heard the last of Tim Booth? Not at all, he says.
“I have been working on a screenplay and am on the second draft. I have had this outline for four years but couldn’t get started with it. But I had a blast for about five weeks and wrote it. Actually I dictated it as I am an oral person rather than a writer.”
“It was effortless but I haven’t given it out to other people yet and they may say it is rubbish. I am sending it to a few people I trust to have a look at. It is a film and not based in the music industry but it is based on some of the experiences in my life. It features an assassin though and it has yet to happen to me.”
And Tim’s music will also be central in his post-James existence.
“I am organising some creativity workshops around the country,” says Tim. “There aren’t any planned for Birmingham yet but there will be. And I have started to make some music. It is all things I wanted to do, but without being part of a corporation.”
What can we expect of the Birmingham concert?
“Well it will be a party. We will have a big celebration, as all James gigs are. We will have some special guests so it should be fun. There have been times when we got fed up of playing certain songs and I am on record of saying so. We rested Sit Down for a year to give us the chance to play other things but at this concert we will be playing all the songs that people want. We will be bringing a few of the older songs out of the cupboard.”
And what of James without Tim Booth?
“I don’t think it is impossible for them to continue if they find a young, great singer. But they are all such great musicians they could go on to do other things. In some ways it would be harder to try to continue with James than to try new things, But it is totally up to them.”
“I don’t have any immediate plans to work with them again. But if we were invited to play Glastonbury then we would certainly consider it because that has always been great fun.”