It must have been around a decade ago when I first listened to Sometimes on the car radio as a kid. Today their new album Girl at the End of the World is already stuck in my head, while waiting for the 8th of July, to see them in concert again. Greek audience favorites, indie and Britpop pioneers, James are the typical band that never really reached the top like they deserved to.

That same kid inside me started jumping around in joy when the interview with Saul Davies, member of the band since the first hits, was arranged. We discussed their new album, their return to Ejekt Festival, vacation, music. We also discussed the most important problem that our side of the globe has to face at the moment.

We talked about the people who are forced to abandon their homes in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, seeking a better future in Europe, which is heartlessly closing its borders: “I have a barn with space, so if I had the chance I’d most likely be happy to house some people in it! Surely that’s what all of us in the west should be thinking…” Saul told us, after warning us that his opinion on the matter may not be easy to digest.

It may not be an easy opinion even for the UK to digest, despite the fact that it is a multicultural and “open country” as Saul confirmed. But…“like everywhere else there is also some fear of the outsiders and racism. Confronting those demons is part of our responsibility as ‘civilised’ and educated people, surely. The media like to whip up fear but people aren’t stupid!”

In the video, James make a cover of David Bowie & Iggy Pop’s song China Girl

James, Editors, Like Mike & Dimitri Vegas and Σtella are the bands that are performing on Ejekt Festival day one, on July 8th. James are the… veterans after many shows in Greece, which, as Saul said, they love and have many good friends in. We asked him about the memories that the band keeps from their concerts here, and he remembered all those shows that created a great bond with the Greek audience. Of course, who could forget their impromptu concert at the White Tower, under the eternally rainy sky of Thessaloniki? Or Tim Booth dangling between the stage and the river and then crowdsurfing at the River Party of 2013 in Kastoria? Definitely not James, as they also remember “the heat, late nights and amazing food as well!”.

Though tempted to take the chance and enjoy some days off while being in Greece, Saul points out: “Work is not just a four letter word!” so the band should forget about vacation at the moment. The work mentioned of course is the tour, which lasts all spring and summer, and despite its length and the exhaustion that it causes, it rolls just fine: “We are very tight with each other and enjoy each other’s company, so spending time with each other is not an issue. Plus we have a great record to take to people”. As for himself? “I exercise quite a bit, don’t smoke and don’t drink alcohol, so it’s not that difficult to keep the energy up” the… boring old bastard (his words) told us.

James_Girl

The great record that must be taken to people was released a few days ago, on March 18th , following La Petite Mort and it’s an electronic album made for dancing, while maintaining the band’s signature sound. Nevertheless, their turn to more electronic ways was not intentional. To be exact:“we don’t do anything deliberately. We’ve never deliberately had a hit, or made a mistake, or anything. This process is natural and mainly a consequence of the writing process, wherein we listened more to what Mark (Hunter) was playing. We bounced off that rather than the other way round –hence the sound”. Of course they still are a band, not a dj, and even though combining electronic and guitar music can be tricky for them, Saul thinks they can pull it off. So do we, Saul, so do we.

All the tracks on Girl at the End of the World were written in Northern Scotland and as expected, despite the lack of Scotch, the environment did affect the result: “Any environment will give impetus and inspiration to an artistic process, as you know, and no different for us up here. Jim (Glennie) and I live relatively close to each other in the far North of Scotland, so we do have a connection to this place, the smell, the sound…”.

Concluding our conversation, we talked about James’ music as a whole, which can sound indie, rock, pop, or post punk, sometimes uplifting and cheerful and other times urging you to search inside yourself with its reserved optimism.

We also talked about music in general, which is becoming more and more difficult to label as the years pass, a development which is probably positive: “Even opinions on what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are difficult to maintain these days. As I get older I find myself more able to say, well, this thing isn’t for me but I see the value in it”.

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