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August 2011

IT is an idea that came about by accident and will lose them money but when James return to Nottingham in November it will be with a 22-piece orchestra and 16-piece choir.
The band, best known for a string of hits including Sometimes, Sit Down, Born Of Frustration and Laid, will be performing them and others with the Orchestra Of The Swan and the Manchester Consort Choir.
“It happened by accident,” says singer Tim Booth.
“We were invited to play a charity gig in Manchester two years ago and the BBC Orchestra offered any of the bands who were playing the chance to team up with them. We rehearsed for about three hours then played in front of 15,000 drunken Mancunians,” he laughs.
“That was nerve wracking. And it went well. But we didn’t enjoy it because it was so rushed. I couldn’t relax enough to get any pleasure from it.”
Joe Duddell, the orchestra/choir conductor, agreed that they should do it again.
“So last summer we got together with the orchestra and choir to workshop it, to see if it worked. And it was fantastic.”
James followed The Smiths out of the Manchester indie scene and for years were often-dubbed “a second class Smiths” until their anthem Sit Down broke them in to the mainstream.
“I did expect us to be very successful but we had to wait seven or eight years for the success to come,” he says.
“We paid our dues, we learnt how to be great musicians. I think that enabled us to survive for so long.”
Is he surprised to still be doing James a quarter of a century on?
“Yes. I don’t think anyone starts in a band and expects it to be around even three or four years.”
Since the release of Sit Down in 1991, James have sold more than 20 million albums worldwide.
“Sit Down is a wonderful song. I wouldn’t call it an albatross. It’s the song that broke down the doors for us in England but in different countries it’s a different song: Laid in America, Getting Away With It in Greece and South America, Born Of Frustration in Portugal and Sometimes in Spain.
Booth has been living in California for the past four years, in Topanga Canyon.
“It’s like national park. It’s got cayotes and rattle snakes and mountain lions... that’s what attracted me.
“Whenever I went to America I always loved the wilderness. It’s so huge they haven’t had time to ruin it like we have. It isn’t civilised to death.
“Los Angeles is quite nearby but I don’t like Los Angeles. It’s a good resource. Once a week we’ll go there to get what we need, then we’ll go back up our mountain.”
It sounds like a desolate place to be bringing up kids?
“No, there are other families up there. It’s a great community.”
Booth also has a home in Brighton, where he’ll be based during the tour.
“We are getting more and more experimental,” he says of the rehearsals. By the time we get to October we’ll have taken some songs quite far away from the original creation. Other songs will be much closer just with great orchestration and choir.”
And there are plans to record one of the concerts for a live CD and DVD.
“The shows will have songs from all the different generations of James. It’s going to be real mixture from the past 30 years.”
Taking an orchestra and choir on the road with them is going to cost, he says.
“We’ll lose money doing this but that’s fine. It was an artistic decision.”
‘Getting more experimental’ James, with Tim Booth in the centre.

Who An Evening with James with the Orchestra Of The Swan and The Manchester Consort Choir
Where Royal Concert Hall
When October 27
Tickets £22.50-£45, 0844 811 0051

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