James are a deeply mis-understood band.
For those of a certain vintage, the Manchester group are associated with barmy, tie dye clad students who continually sat down (at just the right point!) during their concerts.
The reality is, though, that during their peak James were responsible for some of the superior guitar music to emerge from these Isles. Still touring and recording new music, James recently opted to piece together their first ever box set.
'The Gathering Sound' was an enormous undertaking, containing all eleven studio albums stored on a j-shaped USB stick. Featuring a raft of rare and unreleased material, 'The Gathering Sound' was a treasure trove for fans.
Set to open 2013 with a typically massive tour, ClashMusic decided to probe frontman Tim Booth about his literary influences...
- - -
What is your favourite book and why?
'Cloud Atlas' by David Mitchell. At first, the bizarre structure infuriates then comes around to embodying the profound essence of the novel. Each story is so alive and rich in language and the novel contains a truth about life that I have never seen so brilliantly expressed.
What other authors do you like?
Cormac Mccarthy, Doris Lessing, Dickens, Jane Austen, Robert Anton Wilson, Philip Pullman
What draws you to certain books?
Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
Hard to do in the age of the world wide web.
Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
Yes. if I am writing a lyric whilst reading a potent book the style and sometimes content seeps into the lyric. I recently read a book set on a British man of war and a song I'm working on ended up using 18c nautical jargon.
What are you reading at the moment?
'Shantaram' by Gregory David Roberts
Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?
No. I needed to possess the book. I used to sleep with books down my bed – I liked the feel of hardbacks on my feet.
What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
An “Alfred Hitchock Presents” series of scary stories that made me wet the bed.
Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?
'Ulysses' by Joyce. I wanted to join the snob club of those who have got through it and then tell everyone it’ s a masterpiece. I'm not proud.
Do you read book reviews?
Yes sometimes. It saves a great deal of time.
Would you ever re-read the same book?
Hardly ever. Life's too short.
Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
I identify more with the novelist. You get a sense of their sensibility and how they see the world. Doris Lessing for example went from being a communist anti- apartheid realist to being a Sufi mystic and beyond - a journey I can relate to.
Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
Science shows us that only about 2% of us can genuinely multi- task. The rest of us just split our consciousness into two dumb seven year olds. So no, one book at a time for me.
Is there an author / poet you would like to collaborate with?
Rumi and Hafiz but they are dead. David Mitchell please.
- - -
'The Gathering Sound' is out now.
James have confirmed the following shows (with Echo & The Bunnymen):
13 Glasgow SECC
15 Newcastle O2 Academy
16 Sheffield O2 Academy
17 Bristol Colston Hall
19 London O2 Brixton Academy
20 London O2 Brixton Academy
22 Bournemouth O2 Academy
23 Leeds O2 Academy
25 Birmingham O2 Academy
26 Manchester Arena