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I had to Trump things up a little; THE BIG ONE; Tim Booth couldn't help writing political songs for James's 15th album but limited it to two tracks.


If anything is constant in the 35-year career of James it is that they are constantly evolving.

The Manchester legends have just released their 15th album, the magnificent Living In Extraordinary Times and once again, it doesn't sound quite like anything that has come before it, while still sounding like no one else but James.

The band - Jim Glennie, Tim Booth, David Baynton-Power, Saul Davies, Mark Hunter, Andy Diagram, Adrian Oxaal and Deborah Knox-Hewson - have made a career from reinvention but for 58-yearold frontman Tim, it's the only way they know how.

He said: "Every song we do comes from an improvisation.

"I don't promote an agenda of what I'm going to write about from what comes out of a job, I just follow the thread to my unconscious thoughts.

"We were working with Charlie Andrews who did the Alt-J record, as well as a really talented young guy called Beni Giles so we just trusted that the marriage would work and move the songs in directions that we were excited by and might not have been before."

For James, going out and playing the hits without new music is anathema.

Tim said: "I think treading water is scary, to be honest.

"Obviously my voice is the constant throughout the albums but apart from that, we're always looking for the new.

"That's what really thrills us. We need to have a sense of evolving to inspire ourselves.

"I think people in need that in our lives, that potential for growth, otherwise rigor mortis sets in.

"Not having new songs to play to people is just not for us.

"We're not a heritage band and we never will be."

Tim has always been more of an introspective and very human writer when it comes to lyrics, but he's not against getting political.

So the new album features more than one broadside against Donald Trump and his impact on Booth's adopted home of America.

He said: "We were writing this record when Trump got in and he was throwing bombs every week, so he just got in my psyche and a couple of songs came out of it that were pretty direct.

"At first he infected a lot more of the record but I got fairly determined to keep him out, as he's such a narcissist he gets everywhere, so there's only two tracks in there that are specifically about him and America.

"I've probably only written about eight political songs out of 250 in my life.

"It's when you get to the point where you really have to write them, you can't not. I've written about Thatcher and global warming in the 1980s, which shows you how long we've had that information.

"Generally though, I'm not a big fan of political songs. We're here to uplift, we're not here to make people feel depressed."

Tim has been a resident in America for 10 years, but naturally still feels very British, which gives him a unique perspective on what is going on around him. He said: "Democracy doesn't really exist anywhere, each country just subverts it in different ways.

"American subversion of democracy is very different to British subversion, so when I'm out there it's really noticeable how all the politicians get millions of dollars from corporations to get them elected.

"That's not a democracy, that's a corpocracy and it's become even more gross and obvious under Trump than ever before.

"You could tell Obama was a decent man trying to do an impossible job, but you don't get that feeling from Trump.

"He's revelling in doing an indecent job." The band are headlining this year's Electric Fields and it's one Tim is really looking forward to as he knows what kind of reception he's going to receive. He said: "It's always a very passionate and direct response up in Scotland.

"There's people up there who've been coming to see us since the early 1980s, but what's really exciting is the last few records have been bringing in a younger generation.

"Things change, we get older but there's still young people coming to check us out, which is great.

"Families come too, which is marvellous."

James are one of the few bands around who have a large dedicated following who don't just go to their local gig, but travel the country to catch every show they can.

For Tim, that's one of the main reasons that the band are still here and have no plans to call it a day any time soon.

He said: "I think it's because we change the set every night, we play a lot of different songs and we improvise, so you don't get the same show twice.

"If you come to even two gigs they won't be the same.

"We don't play Sit Down very often for example, Laid had a rest for a year and so on.

"We play new songs and we improvise old songs, so they don't turn out the way they did the night before.

"That means people come again and again and again.

"Those people mean the world to us and I hope we never let them down.

"Every gig we play we want to be the best gig ever.

"We still have that fire and passion about us and while we still have that, we'll still keep going."

James play Electric Fields festival, which takes place at Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries & Galloway from August 30-September 1. Tickets available from

I'm not usually a fan of political songs. We're here to uplift.. not make people feel depressed


LONGEVITY... Tim at Glastonbury in 1994

IN WITH THE NEW... Tim and his James bandmates are constantly evolving to stay inspired
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 26, 2018
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