This exclusive James interview was conducted by The Future Tense as part of the ON/OFF project.

Details of ON/OFF can be found here and a full list of featured interviews can be found here.

Each artist was asked the same series of questions relating to the live music experience, before being photographed just before and again immediately after performing.


Band: James

Interviewee: Tim Booth

Venue: Brixton Academy, London

Date: December 10th 2010

What is your most memorable live moment as a fan?

I think most people’s formative years for music are between the ages of 15-20, and I remember running away from home at 16 and seeing Patti Smith at the Hammersmith Apollo, and that was a big deal to me. During those formative years I must have seen artists like Iggy Pop, The Clash and Patti Smith at least 15 times, and it was Patti Smith who taught me the power of words and music and what they can do to people and for people, and I guess how to be an artist rather than just an entertainer.

What is your most memorable live moment as a performer?

I think every gig we do is memorable for a different reason, but one that was particularly special was our first gig in Greece. We had no idea if we even had an audience there, but then we turned up to this amazing outdoor amphitheatre overlooking the acropolis during a full moon and 6,000 people turned up, with everybody knowing every word. That one concert literally set us up there for 10 years, even after we split up and reformed.

Have you had any disasters on stage?

Well at the moment our guitarist has a badly slipped disc, and had to have an epidural and anaesthetic before going on stage last night. To be honest we encourage strange and interesting things to happen at our live gigs.

Do you have any live performance aspirations?

Peru is high on the list, as is Australia. It’s always particularly special playing to audiences you’ve never seen before. Even after all these years we are still incredibly hungry for new experiences as a band.

Any pre/post performance rituals?

I fall asleep like clockwork for about 20 minutes before each performance. Actually once I woke up and for about 5 seconds I didn’t really know where I was or what I was doing, and then suddenly realised I was about to play to thousands of people at Womad, and a huge wave of fear came over me for a moment!

A full list of featured artists and interviews can be found here.