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Jim on La Petite Mort

13th March 2014 | Jim

Photo © Ralph Dunning of Dunning Designs Creative. Jim interviewed by The Mouth Magazine.

Tim on La Petite Mort

24th February 2014 | Tim

Lyrically most of these songs are infused with death. The death of my Mother and a friend who I adored. My Mother passed at 90 in my arms and it was so clearly a birth of some sort, that it left me in a state of rapture for quite some time; that may have some bearing on why this work is uplifting not mournful. Being present at a birth, for an infants first breath, and at death, for a parents last one, seemed to me to be the same thing. I thought, my God, if this is dying that’s great, Ive got that sussed.

Six months later one of the people who I loved the most in the world passed. She was 70 years young and had kept the remission of her cancer from me and other friends. She had introduced me and my wife to each other eighteen years ago and married us ten years later. Since then we kept trying to meet up, but there was no rush, we had all the time in the world.

We worked out she was dying from information which came to us in our dreams and we flew to New York to say goodbye. On arrival at the airport we received word it was too late to see her.

This inability to say goodbye, to tell her I loved her, has haunted me ever since. It turns out I haven’t got this death thing sussed after all.

Life lifts up her skirt and gives us a flash of her mysteries, it is a shocking and uplifting moment. This record is my attempt to make some sense of it.

Belsonic, Belfast

24th August 2013 | Larry

To the moon and back

24th August 2013 | Juliet

Shabby was arranging the fun-sized Honey Loops and Coco Pops tidily in the bus kitchenette as I brought in the cheese and cold meat platter from the dressing room. “Whats that?” asked Shabby. Posh chutney… “No chuckra (sic), we don’t want chutney. It’s going to end up in the bin.” Okay…

It was 11.15PM as the bus pulled away from Belsonic in central Belfast. Suede had followed James and we watched from the steps at the side. Across the square, people in flats held balcony parties and got a free gig.

I ran the Merlot found amongst Tim’s dressing room rider (he doesn’t drink) up to the back lounge and left that bus for good. Phew. I’d grabbed a spare ‘day room’ to overnight in, and an hour ago bought an expensive flight back over the water to avoid the jet lag of the boat trip…..

It had been a busy day. Ralph had come over to do a photo shoot with the band in Belfast. Tricky moment trying to find the words for P.S. for Tim just before he went on stage. They were gone, lost, let loose somewhere on a stage in Dublin.

I taped up the production box which seemed to have exploded into shards of plastic. Half a roll of gaffer later, all was well. The box contains some of the James words treasure. Laminated lyrics, but not in any order and missing P.S. As I taped, Tim was singing it word-perfect.

Pleasant Sunday morning in Belfast; sun shining. Waved Tim off to the Americas as he set off to take his first flight of the day. Didn’t go to the Titanic museum yet. Interestingly, the Titanic was engineered in Belfast, the helpful concierge man explained, but it set sail from Southampton. Random but true.

For those that weren’t flying out of Belfast, the journey back revolved around drivers hours and strategic planning – things like unloading heavy things at the music storage place before it shut. This meant there was a boat journey at 3am.

On Bank Holiday Monday, news broke that the bus had broken somewhere on the M6. It had been a perilous journey across the Irish Sea in the small hours. Most of the party stayed asleep in their bunks between 4 and 7, in a locked down vehicle area under the ship. A few had got up to lay in the lounge and then realised that was a bit of a bad option too. It was a queasy time and some German travel-sick pills, whose instructions and dosage were anyone’s guess, were taken.

Finally back on land…. Dave was dropped somewhere in Wales and the Manchester team were dropped off next. By 10am, Geoff was back in Rochdale drinking copious amounts of tea and buttering toast at his own kitchen table.

Then, not long back on the road, with most asleep, there was a huge bang that sounded like a bomb had gone off on board the bus… It was near Stoke on Trent. The driver pulled over. Twiddled with the air brakes. And set off again…. Another huge bang and then stop near some fields on the M6.

The vehicle had had its day, and the remaining London team headed off and out overland. There was Ron, Shabby, Andy, Saul and his wife Ana, as well as Nick – who reportedly clutched his quinoa salad throughout – as they jumped over walls and stiles, dragging cases and stuff towards a service station.

Finally a taxi came and ferried them to London. They are all alive and well. “The feeling of an overnight ferry trip and the shock of the bang left me with a touch of jet lag, as if I had travelled to the moon and back,” said one survivor.

What became of the Honey Loops remains a mystery. We will never know. It was a breakfast that never happened.

Olympia Theatre, Dublin

23rd August 2013 | Larry

National Potato Day. Oh the glamour of life on the road!

23rd August 2013 | Juliet

Over to Mat…..who is our guest blogger for tonight…he usually works with Elbow but is with us this summer….

Stuck in an everlasting queue in an attempt to get through customs to Istanbul, I reminisce about my last weekend with the wonderfully chaotic world of James that I’ve been part of since April ’13. It’s certainly been a highlight of my career so far. So the last weekend I’d promised to spill my beans in the form of this blog.

It was National Potato Day that weekend in Dublin, after spending the evening in my watery grave (it’s what we call it when you stay on the bus in your bunk while on the ferry) – being the fact that if anything was to go horribly wrong i.e. sink, then there’s no way out! Still the image of my bunk slowly filling up with water doesn’t deter when sleep is to be had!

So NPD (national potato day) started with a lovely soup at the Olympia; well I was only informed of its lovely potato essence, as it was all gone by the time I got to it, just a few drying sandwiches curling at the edges was all I got. Oh the glamour of life on the road!

I’ll surely miss the unpredictability of this fine bunch, from the gruff Northern voice of Larry, never knowing what guitar he may want next (even in the middle of songs), nights up with Andy listening to Portuguese folk music on the bus to Geoff’s legendary tea making skills. Things I won’t miss – seeing Tim’s freshly worn undies, casually flopped around the dressing room, the set list only coming to my hands 2 minutes before changeover, and those damn tour bus appliances (not mentioning any names) never bloody working – a standard I hasten to add! Still I’ll miss you lot and now my life has been enriched by James and crew… Till next time. Over and out…I only hope I’m not met by tear gas wielding police if we finally get through passport control.

So many men in such close quarters

23rd August 2013 | Juliet

We are all aboard that bus again. It’s a choppy changey night. The Southerners got on first. Saul is in my bed so I am in Mat’s bed. Mat goes ground floor, which he prefers anyway. Shabby is in Tim’s bed and Ana is in Jim’s. It’s late. We collect Dave on the way to Holyhead. Dave then takes Ana’s bed as its the only option. It’s hot inside this chrysalis…..

And then we are at sea; the bus stops for a long time. There have been some owl noises on board. Bleeping and twooting. It’s somebody’s breathing apparatus.

Jim said this must be a taste of what it must be like to be in prison. But where is Johnny Cash to cheer these Fulsome folk? So many men in such close quarters. The twooting continues. Like a night in hospital ward, sleep becomes elusive and soon we get off the bus and go up on deck for an egg on toast.

Ron demonstrates his seven minute core workout using his iPhone app. There are press-ups and dodgy star jumps on deck. A few planks and side planks on a slippery deck help the morning to come into focus.

Mat the guitar tech has stayed asleep. Locked down below deck. A claustrophobic nightmare.

Sleepless but now in Dublin, we dismount the bus which departs to park up somewhere far away. Jim stays on hoping for that missing bit of sleep that will make for a more normal feeling.

Matt the tour manager got the bunk with the box in it and is feeling its effects but remains cheery.

At 2 o’ clock Tim arrives looking fresh and ready for anything. He drinks a carrot, ginger and beet juice and then some aloe vera.

The Olympia theatre is lovely. All old gold and red and friendly staff who love what they do….

A mouse runs across the floor during Tim’s pre-gig workout in the attic room with the window.

There is cream of mushroom soup downstairs.

There is a soundcheck and a V.I.P. question and answer. Tim talks about the 80s on the tour supporting The Smiths…about breaking down in the little camper van and the police helping with getting some petrol etc.

V Festival, Weston Park

18th August 2013 | Larry

V is for Victory

18th August 2013 | Juliet

And on to our second installment penned by drum tech Nick…

Sunny Stafford! A Very lovely day! With all the dos and don’ts learned from yesterday and with some sunshine on proceedings, today was going to be altogether better. We were, dare I say, more over-prepared than a scout group on steroids!

As the V-goers were already on site and raring to go by the time James came onstage, this was going to be a Very different show. The audience was Very big, Very receptive, and the band played a Very good set. Curse Curse went down Very well. Mark’s Crouch End House Mafia keyboard line struck the right note with many of the day-glo face-painted, daisy headbanded, giant pink animal-eared weekenders. I had my own little fan club when I dropped some Very hot cheese hip-pumping moves stage right with Mel & The Sensational Melettes; but I have a very good teacher and an extraordinary natural salsa!

It’s very hard to comment on the subtleties of the performance as I spend most of my time behind the drum riser looking at, well… the back of things mainly!

That was it in a nutshell from yours truly’s perspective. A mass raid on the catering tent for our takeaway treasure, then the Northerners went North, the Southerners went South and within a few hours it was all a dream. In the end V is, as always, for Victory!

V Festival, Hylands Park

17th August 2013 | Larry