Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Rock of Ages ... but James Are Aiming to Keep the Music Fresh ; INTERVIEWHe and His Fellow Travellers in Manchester Band James Are Now into Their Fourth Decade of Music-Making, Though Singer Tim Booth Tells Paul Taylor He Is 'In Denial' about Their Vintage

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Rock of Ages ... but James Are Aiming to Keep the Music Fresh ; INTERVIEWHe and His Fellow Travellers in Manchester Band James Are Now into Their Fourth Decade of Music-Making, Though Singer Tim Booth Tells Paul Taylor He Is 'In Denial' about Their Vintage

Article excerpt

HOME for James singer Tim Booth is thousands of miles away from the city with which the band is most associated, and a world away from his previous home in Brighton. For six years, he and his family have lived in Topanga Canyon, California. It's Los Angeles, but not as we'd know it.

"I've always wanted to live in a wild area of nature and that's what it is," says Booth. "It's the biggest national park around a city in the world, and American national parks are very different from British ones.

"We have coyotes and rattlesnakes, and there's a mountain lion in the area. We had a bobcat which was living in a cave under our house, which is built on a huge rock.

"I live almost in a tree house - a wooden house up in a little copse. It's quite simple. It's really beautiful and very isolated because you can't really build in Topanga any more. It takes seven years to get permission, so there's hardly anyone around."

Plainly a nature lover, Booth can wax just as lyrical about the chillier wilds of Scotland, where he and James convened for a fortnight just before Christmas.

"We hired this little bed and breakfast hotel and set up a studio, wrote songs and recorded demo versions," he says."It was very isolated and it had that astonishing Scottish feel to it that makes you go inside yourself. The landscape is so beautiful in its purples and browns."

Some of the songs created in their Scottish sojourn may get an airing when James play at the Manchester Arena next month, but recording them for posterity will take a lot longer.

"For Hey Ma (James's 2008 album) we really gave a lot of time to it, and I think it shows on the record. We want to match that or top that, and so we need to give it time," says Booth.

James's most recent release, in December, was the box set The Gathering Sound, which includes a dozen previously unreleased songs, live recordings and demos, some of the earlier material having been retrieved from dusty bin bags in an attic in West Didsbury.

The collection marks the 30th anniversary of the band. Does Booth get wistful looking back over those decades? "It's hard for me because I'm in some kind of denial about our age," says Booth, who has just turned 52. "For me, it's like we're a fresh live band creating new music. I don't look at us as an old band at all because the new stuff we're creating is as exciting as the old."

The oft-told tale is that James recruited Tim Booth as front man on the strength of his flamboyant dancing at a student disco in Manchester. They took a slow and apparently reluctant path to chart success in the early 1990s.

"At the start we refused to do photographs," says Booth. "We turned down the NME front cover for a year. We were the only band in the history of NME to turn down the front cover, because we were scared of how that might affect us. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.