Fans of the British rock band James haven't had much to cheer about over the past decade, as lead singer Tim Booth bolted in 2001, pretty much dissolving the group that gave us the singalong hits "Laid" and "Say Something." But as time often heals all wounds, James reunited in 2008 to create the solid album "Hey Ma" - and now they're back with the double-disc "The Morning After the Night Before." Booth talked to the Miami Herald about James' breakup, the new album and their show Monday, Sept. 20 at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale.
The new album is a little bit on the maudlin side, less upbeat and with really dark lyrics. Why is that?
I must be manic-depressive. I don't know - musically, we kind of made them as two separate albums, and now they've ended up being put together as one. which is quite interesting. But the maudlin album - we purposely were gonna make a more mellow album with darker lyrics, because we tend to feel we can't do so much of that on an album usually without depressing everybody. But this time, we felt we'd go the whole hog and make a really low-key album about some of the sadder aspects of life.
Will we hear some of this at the show, or is it too downbeat?
You'll hear a fair bit of it, I think. It's hard to know at this point - we change our set list every night and we'll try out some of the songs at the beginning of the tour, and some will be more effective than others. There's a core of about eight or nine songs that we do, but after that it's pretty much open. So by the end of the tour, we've about got it together [laughs].
You guys are kicking off your tour in Fort Lauderdale. Is that purely for geographical reasons, or are you particularly fond of South Florida?
[Laughs] We haven't been to Florida probably since '96. Last time we visited America I ruptured a disc in my neck and we had to cancel. So we never made it to Florida - we had to stop at San Francisco. And the guy that runs the venue was really kind to give it to us the day before to rehearse in, and it just seems to work really well geographically. And we were told there are a lot of people really interested in our music down there who haven't had a chance to see us for a while.
Why did you leave the band in 2001, and why did you rejoin it six or so years later?
I left because psychologically as a unit we were a bit of a mess. We were still making really interesting music - I mean, the history of rock music is a testimony to dysfunctional personalities making great music - but it wasn't enjoyable for me anymore. And I came back because a lot of the people had worked through the stuff that was dysfunctional, and we were connected to a new relationship and new communication, and maybe the addictions had disappeared. So it was like, OK, if we can really do this properly and come up with a whole other new material and not just a nostalgia act, then let's do it.
Tim Booth of James