The end of the world is nigh for James, and they couldn't be happier about it
It's the end of the world for alternative rock veterans James, and they feel more than fine.
That’s because the Manchester band believe their latest album, their 12th full-length effort, is fit to rank among the best they’ve produced over the course of career stretching back to 1982, with a six-year break ending in 2007.
What’s more, they’re about to hit the road, and, according to rhythm guitarist Saul Davies, they can’t wait to see how their new songs go down with their audiences.
Their new album, Girl at the End of the World, was released on Friday, and to promote it, they’ll be playing in-store gigs and holding signing sessions at HMVs up and down the land, including Newcastle’s on Tuesday, March 22.
They’ll only be signing albums at the Eldon Square shop, though, their nearest in-store shows being in Manchester the day before and Glasgow the day after.
Frontman Tim Booth, bassist Jim Glennie and Davies are expected to be at the Newcastle HMV from 5.15pm.
They’ll be back in the city on Tuesday, May 17, as part of a nationwide tour to further promote the LP also taking in Leeds First Direct Arena on Saturday, May 14.
Tickets for their Newcastle City Hall show cost £38 or £47. For further details, go to newcastlecityhall.org or www.wearejames.com
It will be the band’s first show at the Northumberland Road venue since 1985, as a support act for the Smiths, and Davies says he is looking forward to it, although that last visit was four years before he joined up.
“Years and years ago,fans used to watch bands in these local city halls, but now you get these awful venues that are the same in every city,” said the Oldham-born 55-year-old.
“They’ve got beautiful balconies with character and proper, old-school dressing rooms.
“It’s just like homogenisation with these new places, but they’re not as good in the same way that a burger from Burger King isn’t as good as a hand-made beefburger.
“I think we’ve done some great shows in Newcastle over the years. The last time we were there was in November 2014, and that was a good show.
“We don’t have any particular attachment to that part of the country, although I lived in Felling in Gateshead as a child for a while, but the reaction we get from audiences there is fantastic.”
Davies is confident that the welcome the band will get next time round will be equally warm as he reckons the songs that make up the new album will translate well to a live setting.
“We’re very much looking to playing the new songs live,” he said.
“So far, the response we have had to the record has been really, really positive. I can’t wait to get out and play it.
“I don’t always feel it, but I had the same feeling about the last record, La Petite Mort, which I was very proud of.
“We did two warm-up shows and took the opportunity to scare ourselves in front of an audience by playing lots of new stuff, but the response was fantastic.
“I think it’s going to be quite a good record to rehearse the hell out of. Everything’s sounding great so far.
“We’ll be looking to play most of the new record, along, of course, with a bit of back catalogue and some of our hits.
“We’ve never been forced into playing just greatest-hits sets. We’re not interested in that.
“The cruise ships don’t beckon just yet.
”We’ve been loyal to our fans over the years, and they’ve been loyal to us.
“I’ve even seen an increase in younger people at our shows. That’s something that will have started with parents bringing their children along, but I think it’s down to our videos too.
“I think we are the only group of our generation in the UK to have been going for 14 studio albums and actually still be growing.”
Besides Booth, Glennie and Davies, James currently consist of guitarist Larry Gott, Mark Hunter on keyboards, drummer David Baynton-Power and trumpeter Andy Diagram. Adrian Oxaal will stand in for Gott on tour, however.
The band have sold more than 12 million albums worldwide since starting out in the early 1980s, their biggest hits being 1990’s Gold Mother, 1992’s Seven and 1999’s Millionaires, all No 2s, though their 1998 compilation The Best of James did go one better, giving them their only chart-topper to date.
They’ve also notched up four top 10 singles – Sound, a No 9 in 1991, and She’s a Star, a No 9 in 1997, as well as Sit Down twice over, a No 2 in 1991 and a No 7 in 1998.
Girl at the End of the World is their follow-up to 2014’s La Petite Mort, a No 11 hit, and that was their first proper album since 2008’s comeback set, Hey Ma, a No 10 hit, but they did release a couple of mini-LPs in the meantime, both in 2010 – The Night Before, a No 20, and The Morning After, a No 19.
Produced by Max Dingel and long-term collaborator Brian Eno, the new record is out now on BMG Recordings in vinyl, CD and download formats.
An archive live album release will follow next month to mark this year’s Record Store Day, the ninth.
The 12-track LP, The Greenpeace Palace Concert, recorded in November 1992, will be out in transparent double-vinyl format on Saturday, April 16, plus free download.
Only two of its tracks, versions of America and Ring the Bells, have been released previously.