After 35 years in the music business, Britpop group James are at a defining point in their career as they appear at the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival.
Their 15th album, which will be released on March 18, Girl at the End of the World, feels like a new roll of the dice, according to the band’s 52-year-old bassist Jim Glennie.
“Things have started to reignite and it just feels like a really good time for us,” he says.
Glennie says that the “unashamed positivity” of the new single, Nothing But Love, reflects how the band feel these days.
“Usually with our songs, there is some kind of tension fighting the positivity – we don’t write many joyous love songs,” he says. “This song is about being swept away by the emotions of falling in love.
“We’ve only played it live once so far but I can already tell it’s going to be a big song for us. We’ve put a lot of work into getting it right.”
Glennie will be hoping that Nothing But Love stirs up the kind of emotional effect that their hit anthem Sit Down used to – it inspired hordes of sentimental revellers in British nightclubs to sit down together on the dance floor, when it became a hit in the early 1990s. Glennie recalls bouncers at their gigs trying to persuade people to get back on their feet.
“You unruly lot you!” he jokes. “I don’t know, sitting on the floor – terrible!”
Glennie admits that the tune doesn’t pack quite the same punch when they perform it now.
“It all gets a bit mental, because some people try to sit down and others don’t,” he says. “But emotionally, the song still really connects with people.”
Sit Down was written by the band’s singer, Tim Booth, as a thank you to author Doris Lessing and singer Patti Smith, who inspired him. Glennie describes the tune as a “strange beast”.
“But it’s not a song that we have to tout round everywhere, because it was only really in the UK that Sit Down was a hit,” he says. “In the States, Laid is our massive tune, and in Portugal it’s Sometimes.”
James formed in 1982 but it wasn’t until 1990, with the rise of the “Madchester” movement and its wave of Manchester-based indie bands, that they built a following. In the 1980s, the band members had to resort to other forms of work to scrape by.
“I was labouring and delivering copies of the Yellow Pages to get the pennies to keep playing,” says Glennie. “We were human guinea pigs for medical experiments at Manchester Infirmary, obviously hoping there weren’t going to be any bizarre side effects.
“I wouldn’t do it now, but when you’re in your late teens, you feel like you’re indestructible.”
Glennie has never been to the UAE, but as a diehard Manchester City Football Club fan, he’s “very grateful” to the UAE investors who have helped to catapult his club to the top of the premier league in recent years.
“I’ve been a paying Man City supporter virtually all my life, watching Manchester United win everything and City always losing, and having my nose rubbed in it by friends who are United fans,” he says. “So these recent positive years of being a City fan have been a dream come true.”
James perform on WEdnesday, February 24 from 9pm to 10pm, preceded by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox and followed by Toto. For more details, visit www.dubaijazzfest.com
Source: art & life