Daily Mail 3/22/98

-James Pop Group Deny They're Splitting Up by Ewan Macleod

Don't panic, James fans... They are alive, well, still together - and working right here in Scotland!

Rumours that the boys were on the verge of a split were fuelled by the announcement that they'll have a "Best Of..." package released this week.

But, no, they are NOT milking the cash cow before a final curtain call.

Singer Tim Booth says that work on a new album is in progress - at a SECRET Scottish location.

All very exciting.

"Split rumours have been going around since our Whiplash album and my solo project Booth and the Bad Angel," says Tim.

"I can tell you they are just not true. We've no intention of splitting up. We've got too much still to do. We've already written about 20 or 30 new songs in a house somewhere near Dollar and they are the best things we've ever done."

There will be a taste of the new material on the Best Of album and they already have enough songs for a completely new album later in the year.

"We've got that feeling again where you know you are writing a classic and it feels so right. I haven't had that since writing Sit Down.

"All the band have enjoyed coming to Scotland. I holiday here quite a lot, especially near Inverness.

"Scottish people are a lot cooler. They leave us alone to get on with things."

There was a time when James would never have been left alone. In the early '90s, no self- respecting Indie kid would be seen dead without a James T-shirt and the band sold more shirts than copies of their 1990 album, Gold Mother.

On the front cover of every magazine and Featurespaper, they were hailed as the new U2 or Simple Minds, playing gigs to 30,000 people a night - and, amazingly, not very happy about it all.

Over the past few years, James have deliberately worked hard to under- sell themselves, to get out of the glare of the spotlight.

"We shut our fan club and said 'no' to a lot of media opportunities that would have probably sold us the next 100,000 albums," says Tim.

"We were normal people who, all of a sudden, had this massive hit with Sit Down. It went out of control. We had people sitting on our lawn, following us to the toilet. A group of Japanese teenagers even flew to Manchester and stayed for six months until they eventually bumped into me.

"This time, if we have a runaway hit, I think we'll be ready for it. We won't spend any time trying to keep control of it. We'll just let it go.

"Once we've picked the best of the 20 or 30 tunes we've got, we'll have the best album from James yet and it should be out in September."

James could have been forgiven if they HAD decided to call it a day in the last three years...

Guitarist Larry Gott quit to spend more time with his family and the band discovered they owed £250,000 to the tax man.

"And I should have been a bit more careful when it came to naming the last album," grins Tim.

"No sooner had I called it Whiplash than I GET whiplash... I ruptured two discs in my neck and spent three months in a neck brace.

"It was agony. I was right in the middle of a tour and I had to keep going. "I managed okay, but the damage was too much and we had to cancel our next tour.

"But we are doing a short tour next month, including the Barrowland in Glasgow on April 13, and we'll see how we hold out. I think I may have to cut out the erratic dancing and jumping about, but the show will still be good!

"I thought I was feeling better but, in the last couple of weeks, the neck is sore again and I may have to wear that brace.

"It's either that or quit, because if I do any serious damage, we may never be able to tour again.

"It's literally a right pain in the neck," says poor old Tim.

But don't worry about the band bowing out. Dig out your old James shirt and remember that the best could be still to come.