The Sun/Source Magazine 6/5/98

-James Last The Distance by Ally Ross

On the eve of their Fleadh headline spot, Tim Booth tells ALLY ROSS why the big brothers of britpop are bigger then ever

Blimmin' Chesney Hawkes. February 1991 and James were all set to spend a few months at No.1 with the classic student sing-a-long anthem Sit Down. Then along skips ****ing Chesney with The One and Only.

And what a prophetic title that was. For apart from a couple of 'where are they now' features, Ches had the good grace to slope off into the showbiz ether.

James still haven't got that No.1 single, but there are no hard feelings says singer Tim Booth.

"Some time later Chesney contacted me to apologise" chuckles Tim. "He kept going on about how much better our single was and how guilty he felt "Poor kid, I felt sorry for him, it was unfair to have all that fame thrust upon him so young."

Things also went a bit dingly-dangly for James after Sit Down. A follow-up album was mauled in the press and it's been feast or famine ever since. The soaring high was the 1993 album Laid which was followed by a crippling blow of a #250,000 bill from the tax-man.

Summer 1998 marks a new pinnacle. The band headline tomorrow's Fleadh at Finsbury Park and their 'Best Of' album illustrates why Morrissey called them his favourite band and Noel Gallagher formed Oasis.

"Noel's been very generous in his praise," smiles Tim. "I have vivid memories of him as a roadie for The Inspiral Carpets.

"Friends saw Oasis when they were great but I saw them in New York six months ago and it wasn't healthy, they looked bored. As for Liam - Jesus, that poor kid is adrift. I wish him luck, he needs it."

Has to be said though, Tim can come across as a trifle odd too. He has been through the whole sex, drugs and blah blah blah and is now immersed in the whole 'new age' malarkey.

However, none of it seems risible when he gently explains he got into alternative medicine to treat a liver diesease. "I don't fit into rock circles as I look at alternative methods of getting high - dancing drumming," he says earnestly. "People are narrow minded, it all gets dismissed as 'new age'."

The one vaguely annoying aspect to all this is that Tim echoes the old rock star refrain: "I don't consider myself cool."

It's all self-deluding nosense of course.

For a start, if Tim Booth wasn't cool he would've spotted the most glorious double entendre when asked if he was looking forward to the Fleadh.

"I intend to go out there and completely expose myself," he said, without a smidgen of irony.

"I love exposing myself and taking alot of risks."

Well, it should help sell a few more tickets.

I confidently predict that unless Chesney turns up, Tim Booth exposing himself will be the talking point of the day ... musically speaking, of course.

- James will be joined at The Fleadh by The Corrs, Sinead O'Conner, Billy Bragg and Shane MacGowan.