How do you feel that you have already sold 60,000 + tickets for your upcoming tour later this year?
It all sounds a bit unbelievable, it’s like I can’t emotionally connect with any of this yet. Because it all feels like it might be taken away from me, so even though I know on paper that I am busy, it all feels so fragile at the moment. It’s hard to emotionally connect and invest myself, so it’s just an idea at the moment. Yes, it’s far enough away that it would take something pretty disastrous to happen to change it, but we’ve had pretty disastrous happen, haven’t we? So, I can’t’ because it still just feels so detached. I know on paper it sounds amazing, ridiculous; the tickets sold like nobody’s business. I think again because people are thinking: ‘Oh by then we’ll be back to normal, and we can go and celebrate and have a proper gig and it’ll be amazing’ and all the rest of it. So, the tickets just flew out the door. I think people genuinely are looking for that, even though it’s a long way away, that thing to head towards and sort of move towards, that positivity you know? God willing, we get there and it’s amazing, and it will be. I mean 60,000 is ridiculous. I have a sneaky feeling that if everything’s cool, we’ll add more shows on and just be busier.
Which song did you enjoy working on the most for your new album?
I [Jim Glennie] think ‘All The Colours Of You’ was a big one for me, because I worked on that with my brother Peter when we were working on the demos remotely. I’ve never worked with him musically before. So, me and him were kind of doing stuff remotely on that, and that came in quite late in the day. No one had looked at it, it had kind of been missed in the grand scheme of things. So, we pieced together a demo and it was just great. It got lots of favour and was instantly voted onto the leader board. So, a lot of personal satisfaction comes from that! I mean it’s easy to miss things, not everything we do gets worked on and stuff can go under the radar and it’s just a matter of the individual’s personal opinion whether something needs to be worked on or not. So, people pick up on what they’re attracted to from the jam, and stuff just doesn’t get worked on or missed. That’s the way it is. And with ‘All The Colours Of You’, it was very last minute. It was: ‘Oh, well I’ve got this one!’ and ‘Oh, okay great!’ We knocked something up and it was great. It changed a lot as Jacknife worked on it, but no that was quite exciting.
Positive change is something very much on the band’s mind; Jim mentioned that he’d spent the day sorting out potential festival dates. Touring has always been a key part of the band’s ethos: he tells me that the Stone Roses, Nirvana, and Coldplay have all opened for them in the past. “We’re renowned for having support bands that then go on to be much bigger than us!” he says. Jim tells me about the unique challenges they faced while on Neil Young’s Harvest Moon tour. “He was playing an acoustic tour”, he says. “So he said, ‘if you can play acoustically, you can come and do this tour.’ So we said, ‘Oh yeah! Great!’ And then of course we didn’t really know how to do it.” The massive crowds didn’t help the band’s nerves. “The first gig was at Red Rocks in Colorado, to 30,000 people – we were terrified! We had no gear! Normally we’ve got these huge, big amps, and you can hide behind the volume.” Despite their struggle with the acoustic setup, he describes the tour as ‘amazing’. “[The crowds] loved us. They absolutely loved us. And he [Young] treated us so well.”
Glennie spoke through the decision-making process that James goes through when creating albums.
“It’s primarily the four song-writers: myself, Tim, Mark and Saul. The songs are our babies so we keep the decision-making between ourselves up until the producers come in.
“There’s quite a lot of what we do like getting the songs, demoing them, getting the character and identity but we all know each other really well so musically we’re all on the same page. We know what works within the unit of the band”, he added.
Glennie revealed his potential favourites in the new album. “I think Wherever It Takes Us is going to be a big live tune… Zero is going to be a good song live”.
He also added how Wherever It Takes Us will be a fun challenge as they each still have to work out the verses, patterns, chorus, harmonies and essentially recreate the whole track to develop it into a live performance.
[Tim] Booth’s lyrics may be a little close to the bone for some. As founding member of the band, does [Jim] Glennie ever feel the need interject on some of the lyrics? The short answer is no, but he is considerate enough to elaborate on their relationship:
“Our politics are very similar. His life experiences are very different to mine. A lot of the time he sings about things that I can’t really relate to or don’t reference my experiences because of where he is and what he’s doing. But he’s a good man and he sings about good things. He reflects on what he does.”
“Some of the things he sings about don’t connect with me on a personal level, but not in a bad way. He has got clearer with his messages over time, and he’s wanted to do that. He’s wanted better clarity on what he’s trying to say.”
“Sometimes you need to continue to shine a light on things, again and again and again. People listen to what he has to say. I’m not saying he’s going to change the world, but if somebody stops to think about something that they wouldn’t ordinarily because it’s a lyric or in an interview, then brilliant.”
This will be the third time James, who gave the world such timeless anthems as Sit Down, Born of Frustration, She’s A Star and Come Home, have headlined Scarborough OAT after shows at the Yorkshire coast venue in 2015 and 2018.
“We always have a great night there,” said bassist Jim Glennie, “even back in the days when you had to cross the old moat to get to the audience! We are looking forward to another very special night on the Yorkshire coast.”
Recorded in part before the Covid pandemic struck, All The Colours Of You was produced by the Grammy award-winning Jacknife Lee (U2, REM, Taylor Swift, Snow Patrol, The Killers) who bought a fresh approach to their sound. Working remotely from his studio and liaising with them, Lee reimagining their demos, and captured a band in all their virtual glory.
The result is a record with the freshest and festival-ready tracks of James’ 38-year career. It is the sound of one of Britain’s best bands, deconstructed and reassembled by one of the world’s most renowned producers.
By Shaun Curran, © 2008 City Life
James guitarist Jim Glennie tells Shaun Curran about how he persuaded Tim Booth to reform the legendary Manchester band – and why Manchester Central is their theatre of dreams…
If the current spate of bands reforming want any pointers on how to do it with dignity, they could do worse than take a look at James.
Since announcing in January 2007 they were getting back together, James have been on three sell-out tours, had a top ten album and have proved a reformation need not be the disappointingly tedious cash-in it so often proves.
In fact James are, bassist Jim Glennie testifies, in as rude health as they have been for many years. As founder and longest serving member, Whalley Range-born Glennie has seen various members come and go (and come back again) over the years, and is better positioned than anyone to talk about a chequered history of triumph over adversity. “There have been a few ups and downs,” he laughs.
How right he is. Formed in 1982 at Manchester University (Jim had seen singer Tim Booth dancing in his inimitable way in the Student Union and asked him to join), James spent most of the Eighties gaining the admiration of the press and their contemporaries, including The Smiths, but nothing more than a cult following.
All that changed with the release of third album Gold Mother at the height of Madchester in 1990, which spawned their biggest hit Sit Down.
Several albums followed including the career high, Brian Eno produced Laid, before difficulties set in: guitarist Larry Gott left acrimoniously, money problems became apparent and momentum was lost.
An immaculate Best Of, released in 1998, restored order, reminding everyone in the process of James’ penchant for crafting joyous pop anthems. Sold by the bucketload, it reacquainted James with the arena circuit and a second stint in the big time looked impossible to deny.
Yet in true James fashion, they never quite fully capitalised: follow-up Millionaires, an album that record company Mercury had earmarked for best seller status, failed to capture public imagination in the manner anticipated. By the time 2001’s Pleased To Meet You limped into the charts, becoming the first James album since 1998 not to reach the Top Ten, James were seen as a spent force, not least by the band themselves.
Shortly after the album charted, Tim Booth announced he was quitting James to pursue new projects. Though a farewell tour was well received, it failed to gloss over the fractious nature of the band that had long threatened to undermine their work, something Jim now freely admits.
“It really wasn’t much fun by the end. I don’t think we realised at the time quite how dysfunctional we had become. There were a lot of problems within the band, relationships were breaking down and there was a lot of friction. Friction wasn’t anything new in James, there was always arguments because we’re all opinionated people, but by the end there was an undercurrent of nastiness and it was silly”.
“Being in a band is like being in a relationship, you basically live with each other and sometimes you need that break to appreciate each other. In hindsight, there is just no way we could have made another record. It was an upsetting time. We needed a break and we needed to mature”.
In the interim, Booth worked on various projects, including his solo album Bone and a part in the Manchester Passion, whereas Jim met up with estranged guitarist Gott to continue working on music. The fruits of these sessions lay the foundations for the reunion.
“I’d been playing with Larry for a while, just jamming,” says Jim. “We did a few things with some singers around Manchester, but anytime we wrote anything Larry would say to me, ‘I can hear Tim singing that’. So I gave Tim a ring and asked him to come for a jam, but the time wasn’t right for him”.
“Another 18 months passed and we still had this good stuff, so I gave him another call and he said, I’ve just been thinking about you guys,’ which was what we wanted to hear”.
“I met Tim and Larry on the Friday, then by the Sunday our Tour Manager had the MEN Arena and the rest of the tour on hold! I was a bit wary about it to be honest, I wanted us to keep it low key for a while, but he was right. It was best to get going”.
Public response was overwhelming, the tickets selling out within hours of going on sale. Despite this, Jim was conscious the comeback would not be a tired nostalgic wallow.
“We didn’t want it to be like all those other reunion tours, where they just sing the hits half-heartedly and don’t offer anything new. The big thing for us was ‘could we still write?’ If we didn’t have anything new to offer we wouldn’t have done it, it would never got as far as playing shows. But it was obvious from the first day we could still do it”.
With confidence anew and friendships repaired, James went about recording their 10th studio album, this year’s Hey Ma.
Created organically from jamming sessions, the record is a worthy addition to their considerable catalogue, their trademark exuberance belying their reformed status. But was there extra pressure on this album, to justify a comeback?
“Yes, but not pressure from anyone else. The pressure came from ourselves. There was a determination that we were going to come back at least as good as we used to be. I still love the album. I’m really, really proud of it. A lot of the songs have become big James tunes that we sing every night and everyone sings along”.
Anyone who has seen James live will know it is their natural habitat, with epic and anthemic songs dealt with in wonderfully uplifting, celebratory manner, in no small part thanks to Tim Booth’s unique command of a crowd.
“Tim is a great communicator,” adds Jim. “It’s important when you play these massive places that you make that connection and knock down the barriers put in front of you. And Tim is great at that, he makes that connection”.
This weekend James will again connect with the masses, playing at Manchester Central (formerly G-Mex), a significant venue in the band’s history following their first two-night stint there in 1991 in the aftermath of their commercial breakthrough.
“We’ve got great memories of playing G-Mex. Manchester’s always the place I look forward to playing the most. There are people there who have supported us throughout the years. I have to try hard to keep it together”.
“Obviously it couldn’t happen without us, but we realise we’re a bit like a football team, we exist for the people who come and watch us. We’re saying: ‘What we’re doing now belongs to you’”.
“It’s going to be special”.
Life of James
1982: James formed.
1983 and 1985: Release two Eps on Factory Records.
1986 and 1988: Sign to Shire. Release two albums, Stutter and Strip-mine.
1990: Sign to Fontana. Gold Mother released, mainstream success follows.
1991: Sit Down re-released and kept off the Number 1 spot by Chesney Hawkes.
1992: Seven released. Play massive outdoor show at Alton Towers, broadcast live on Radio 1.
1993: Laid released, produced by Brian Eno.
1994: ‘Experimental’ album Wah Wah released. Guitarist Larry Gott quits.
1997: Whiplash released, includes top ten hit, She’s A Star.
1998: Release Best Of, which sells more than 500,000 copies.
1999: Sign to Mercury. Release Millionaires, which hits Number 2 in the charts.
2001: Release Brian Eno-produced Pleased To meet You. Tim Booth quits soon after. Farewell tour.
2007: The band reform to play an arena tour.
2008: Latest album Hey Ma released, reaching the Top 10. Play two hometown Christmas shows.
By Sarah Walters, © 2007 City Life Magazine
In a world of rock comebacks, few will be as emotional as the return of these Manc legends. Sarah Walters meets unsung hero Jim Glennie.
It’s a glorious Friday afternoon in Glasgow and Jim Glennie is preparing for the small job of making a triumphant rise from the ashes. Sitting in his hotel room, poring over a setlist for the appearance that officially kicks off James’ reunion tour, Jim is smiling like the proverbial cat that got that’s scored itself a fat tub of extra thick, double cream.
He’s choosing from a list of song titles so indulgent it’d have Caligula in a hot flush. But the most exciting aspect of this meeting is listening to Jim – James’ bassist, namesake and longest-serving member – refer to the Manchester band’s rebirth as “a dream come true”. It could move even the hardest hack to a sentimental blub.
For Jim, his group’s resurrection still has a certain fairytale quality. He is, if you will, like Dorothy, scooped up in a whirlwind and dropped – wide-eyed and confused – in the middle of his greatest fantasy. He was the only member who repeatedly refused to confirm James’ official split back in 2001, even though the departure of frontman Tim Booth proved to be terminal.
And now it’s official – time has proved Jim right. The split was just a bit of rest and recuperation and James are back on the road. “I can’t believe it,” Jim gushes. “When it all ended, we went our separate ways. I had a real bee in my bonnet about James continuing; I was really attached to doing something as James.”
It’s little wonder he was keen to hang on to his hard-earned legacy. James were a huge success story, selling millions of records and touring the territories with dogged determination.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing. Their first two albums – Stutter and Strip Mine – were hampered by a poor deal with American record label Sire, and the band returned to the UK “impoverished”, remembers Jim. “We did drug trials. We got paid well for it – we knew one of the doctors and he used to recommend stuff where there was no proven case of brain damage or liver failure…yet!” No reaction horror stories? “No, we were all right”, laughs Jim.
“Then we went on Enterprise Allowance, which was just a dodgy scheme to reduce the unemployment figures. So we had all these records out, but we were really poor. I used to deliver telephone directories to make extra money. The things you do.”
The ride changed in 1991 when the re-release of Gold Mother (revised to include their No 2 single Sit Down) took James up the album charts and T-shirt sales made James the biggest independent clothing manufacturer in Britain. “At its height, we were selling 30,000 T-shirts a month. We had a huge warehouse in Prestwich – it’s probably true that we sold more T-shirts than records at certain points.”
Follow up albums Seven, Laid, Wah Wah, Whiplash, Millionaires, Pleased to Meet You all had their fans and their critics, and James ended on a bit of a commercial low. It was an unsatisfactory ending, so he hooked back up with former guitarist Larry Gott, who had left the band in 1995 and only briefly rejoined James at their farewell gig at the MEN Arena – the venue now set to welcome the band back home tomorrow night.
“After that tour, me and Larry started jamming together in an old office he had; just me, him and a drum machine. As the first couple of years went by, I found it wasn’t James I was attached to; it wasn’t travelling around, or the rock lifestyle, or the ego buzz of being on stage. Musically, I’d fallen in love with what I was creating with Larry, its simplicity. With James we had to book a residential rehearsal room in the middle of nowhere, we had to drag all of the crew there, hire a fleet of cars, there were people flying in. You couldn’t just play for the love of it.”
Enamoured with their project, the duo got in touch with Tim and asked him over. His answer? “Oh no!” says Jim. “He’d just finished his solo album and had a baby and moved house. We had a demo of about eight tunes and Larry and me both came to the same conclusion that we could hear Tim singing on the demo.
“We had a load of songs we’d created and we needed a great singer. I had no desires for a James reunion; the bottom line was Tim is the best singer I know,” implores Jim, before breaking into an excited chuckle.
“He’s the best singer whose number I’ve got anyway!”
Tim was certainly living up to that reputation; he scored critical acclaim for his 2004 solo album, Bone, his LP with film composer Angelo Badalamenti, Booth and the Bad Angel, and his stints on the stage, including a role as Judas in the Manchester Passion. Undeterred, Jim and Larry popped the question again. This time the man from Wakefield, he said yes.
“He said ‘OK, I’ll come up a week on Saturday for three days jamming and see how it goes’. It threw us in at the deep end. Behind the scenes, Tim had been bumping into things that had reminded him of James and made him think that perhaps it was time to do something again.”
When the fateful weekend arrived, the bandwagon started rolling so fast it nearly ran Jim over. “Tim came up on the Friday. I thought we’d just get in a room and play some songs, but then Tim told our manager and he got in touch with SJM.” Just 24 hours later, the comeback tour was pencilled in.”
This time Jim was focussed on getting the most out of every day. He sees it as a a long-term reunification and is keen to add to the first slice of new stuff due out at the end of the year – as well as extend the group’s live lifespan.
In his softer moments, Tim had conceded that a rebirth could happen if it was as much a musical reinvention as a physical one. So, have we got a jazz rendition of Laid or a funk-fusion version of Hymn From a Village in store?
“You have, yeah: a country and western version of Come Home, a reggae version of Sit Down…,” reels off Jim, all too convincingly.
“We’ve got a shortlist of of 35 songs for this tour and the way to stop yourself getting bored with the songs is to start changing them around. We’ve been under the bonnet of a couple of them.
“We’ve rehearsed Things Are Perfect from our early Factory days, and some new songs, and everything in between. We’ve been doing a Chainmail that we have fiddled with, and Strip Mine. There’s too many to do, which is a lovely problem.”
True to form, James’ live return wouldn’t be complete without a support act that threatens to usurp them in greatness. Birmingham band The Twang – “kinda streets-y, kinda Happy Mondays,” offers Jim – will be hoping for the same golden ticket that former warm-up acts The Stone Roses, Nirvana, Radiohead and Coldplay received. Has Jim noticed any patterns emerging?
“I know, we should set up an agency – become indie Simon Cowells,” Jim giggles as we contemplate contract clauses.
And if the love of a support band doesn’t convince Jim, Larry, Tim and their bandmates, David Baynton-Power, Saul Davies and Mark Hunter, that resurrections aren’t just for deities, being welcomed by the 15,000 fans who cleared the MEN box office of tickets in under two hours should massage some egos.
“It’s going to be really emotional. It was great doing the farewell gig there, but there was this undercurrent of knowing it was ending. This time it’s completely the opposite; we’re giving ourselves back to Manchester again. It will be wonderful.”
Official Press Release
Date: February 1991
Formed in 1983, James turbulent career finally came good in 1990. Their ‘Gold Mother’ LP went silver, their dates at Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom, Glastonbury, Maine Road (with Bowie), Crystal Palace (with The Cure) saw them build up a fanatically loyal live following, while James’s t-shirts became an essential fashion item for indie kids up and down the country. The band also had their first top forty hits with ‘How Was It For You?’ and ‘Come Home’.
Originally signed to Factory Records seven years ago, they released two cult hits, ‘What’s The World’ (later covered by The Smiths) and ‘Hymn From A Village’ plus the ‘Village Fire’ EP. Signing to Sire in 1985, the group put out two albums ‘Stutter’ and ‘Strip-Mine’ during an awkward three-year relationship with the label.
Leaving Sire, James pursued an independent path once more, releasing a live album ‘One Man Clapping’ through Rough Trade Records.
Following the departure of original drummer Gavin Whelan, the nucleus of James – vocalist / lyricist Tim Booth, bass player Jim Glennie and guitarist Larry Gott – injected a new harder edge to their sound with the addition of Dave Baynton-Power on drums.
Following two of the biggest indie hits of 89 – ‘Sit Down’ and ‘Come Home’, James had their freshly recorded ‘Gold Mother’ album released by Fontana.
Expanding to a seven-piece with man of many instruments Saul Davies, keyboard player Mark Hunter and Andy Diagram on trumpet, the new look James bounced into the charts with ‘How Was It For You?’ and ‘Come Home’.
The group ended the year with a new single ‘Lose Control’, two triumphant hometown Manchester shows and a short tour of Russia’s major cities.
Coming bang up to date, James release a re-recorded version of their live classic ‘Sit Down’ on 18 March 1991. Out on Fontana, the seven-inch version of ‘Sit Down’ is produced by Gil Norton and mixed by Dave Bascombe. The b-side is backed by a nine minute version of ‘Sit Down’ recorded live at Manchester G-Mex last December.
A full length live video, filmed at the December G-Mex gig is released on 15 April 1991, while an hour long TV version of the gig is to be transmitted by Granada on 27 March 1991.
The group are currently recording their new album which is set for Autumn release – a massive UK tour is being booked to coincide with the release.
Official Press Band Biography – Dated 9th April 1990
James release their first Fontana single – ‘How Was It For You?’ – on April 30th. The b-side of the 45 features ‘Whoops’ recorded live at Manchester Apollo at the end of last year, while the twelve inch contains two more live tracks – the legendary ‘Hymn From A Village’ and ‘How’ – plus ‘Lazy’. The CD line-up reads ‘How Was It For You?’, ‘Undertaker’ and ‘Hymn From A Village’. None of these extra tracks will be available on the group’s new LP, which is set for release at the beginning of June.
James began their recording career in 1983 with Factory Records, producing two acclaimed singles ‘What’s The World’ (later to be covered by The Smiths) and ‘Hymn From A Village’ plus the ‘Village Fire EP’.
Signing to Sire Records in 1985, the group put out two albums ‘Stutter’ and ‘Strip-mine’ during an awkward three year relationship with the label. Leaving Sire, James pursued an independent path, releasing a live album – ‘One Man Clapping’ – through Rough Trade in February 1989.
Following the departure of original drummer Gavan Whelan the nucleus of James – vocalist Tim Booth, bass player Jim Glennie and guitarist Larry Gott – toughened up their sound with the addition of Dave Baynton-Power on drums.
Enjoying two indie hits with ‘Sit Down’ and ‘Come Home’ and a sell-out tour, the group expanded their line-up to a seven piece with multi-instrumentalist Saul Davies, keyboard player Mark Hunter and Andy Diagram on trumpet, joining James ranks.
The group started 1990 taking several coaches from Manchester over to Paris to play the Hacienda’s Temperance Club night out.
James set off on their World Cup tour in June, which includes festival dates at WOMAD and Glastonbury. The group are still waiting to firm up details for a major Manchester summer show.
|Dates connected with James:||1980+|
|Contribution/Role/Speciality:||Bass Guitar, Percussion|
Birthday : 10th October 1963
Band Nickname : “doesn’t have one as he’s “f**king untouchable” (Dave)
Football Team : Manchester City
Jim Glennie is the only remaining original member of James left, his youthful looks belying his age. Born within spitting distance of Manchester City’s Maine Road ground, Jim has remained faithful to the blue side of Manchester, which has experienced as many ups and downs over the years as James.
He was introduced to music by best mate Paul Gilbertson who talked him into buying his first bass and took him along to concerts in Manchester where his early influences were The Fall and Joy Division.
Jim is often seen as the quiet man in James due to him saying very little and moving even less on stage. This belies the fact that he is impossible to shut up once he has a drink, particularly Scottish single malt whisky. Tim often recalls stories of him losing his temper, once threatening to kill someone who was haranguing Tim at the Brit Awards.
Jim was a member of the Lifewave group along with Tim in the mid 1980s and was seriously into meditation and abstinence at the time and at one stage offered the group to give up James.
Find out about Jim on Wikipedia.