James Q&A: "I did karaoke recently"

In part two of our Q&A, James tells us about his snowboarding trip, plans for playing new songs at this summer's shows and his recent karaoke adventures...

Where are you going snowboarding?
I'm going to France. I'm well stoked to be going again. I missed out last year 'cause I was touring.

Do you have to watch your wrists and things? Aren't musicians meant to go easy on that sort of thing?
Yeah, well I only seem to hurt myself when I'm trying to be safe. When I'm living on the edge, I'm usually alright! I think that's the way it works with me. And if you get too comfortable, you need to shake yourself up. Remember why you're alive. That's why I do it. I like kind of shitting myself about it.

Are you a good snowboarder?
I'm good enough to feel good about going again and again, yeah. I am a bit clumsy, but I only go because I think I can eventually be pretty good at it. Otherwise I wouldn't bother. My pride's on the line!

After all those months of being out on the road, and people recognising you and cheering you, do you enjoy the anonymity of being normal again?
Yeah, I do. I mean, if a whole year went by and no-one even noticed me, I'd probably feel like I needed to get my face out there again! It's a weird thing, because when it's there, you don't want it, then when it's gone, you do. But I think generally, over the years, I think I enjoy it more when I don't get recognised. When I'm on tour and playing the gigs it's always been about the music for me, and if people recognise me because of my music, then great. But if they just recognise me 'cause I've been on the telly or whatever, that's annoying.

Do you get invited to things like film premieres? You don't seem to do much of that.
Yeah, I get invited to quite a few things, but they're not normally my cup of tea. Like cricket or football or a tennis final. Quite good stuff, but not anything that I'm really interested in. I went to that Batman premiere, which was pretty cool for me, 'cause I was well into superheroes and drawing and comics when I was a kid. But generally I feel more uncomfortable in those situations because I always feel like I'm meant to be something more than I am. But when I'm at home, I just enjoy being at home. And I think the more time I spend at home, the more it makes me feel comfortable in those situations, because I'm more grounded again.

Do you miss performing when you're not doing touring?
I do in a way. Like I've been to a few bars and clubs where there's been a band up and I've thought, 'Oh I wanna get up and sing a song!" I think that's probably just my ego or whatever! I did karaoke recently too.

Yeah, I did Gangsta's Paradise, because it was the only one I knew all the way through out of all the songs that I thought I could pull off. I didn't wanna do it showy offy, so I tried to pick something that would make me look a bit of a dick. But the whole pub just went silent like they were really watching me intensely! It was a bit too much! But, generally, I'm enjoying not playing. I did so many gigs on the last tour. I've got a poster of all the gigs that we did in one year and it's like a hundred or something. When I look at it, I'm like "How did I get through that?!".

Did you have a good Christmas?
Yeah, it was good. Quite quiet to be honest. I took Elsie to Lapland beforehand. She loved it. We went on some husky rides and all that. And then we just chilled out at home over Christmas, 'cause I've only just moved into the place that I'm in, so I just wanted a quiet one. I'm used to Christmas being chaos and it was quite weird having it so calm!

Did you cook? *Can* you cook?
Yeah, I can cook. But generally I haven't been cooking much at all. If all my family came here, I would be, though.

Seen any good films recently?
I've watched quite a few, 'cause I've been on planes and stuff. Like the new Total Recall. But nothing that's really moved me on a deep level, which is always what I'm looking for.

Do you watch a lot of telly?
I've been watching a bit more, but it's just bullshit, really! And I've watched more children's TV cos of my little girl, like Mr Tumble! And I've seen Snow White about eight times. That's what you get when you're a dad. I know all the lines in Snow White now.

How old is your daughter now?
She's four. But we try not to let her watch it too much. I didn't. It's good to use your imagination, or take the dog for a walk, or whatever.

Do you do any sport or anything to keep fit?
I have been. But then I was ill for a bit so I got off it. But I got all my boxing stuff out, and I've got weights. I need to get back on it before my snowboarding trip.

Sounds like you've got pretty much everything you need in your house. You don't need to leave it ever.
Haha! Well, that's what I'm trying to do, so that I can become the agoraphobic that I've always wanted to be! I'm joking. But I like the idea of having it at my disposal.

You live out in the country. Do you miss city life at all?
Not at all. I miss the handiness of having good shops nearby and stuff like that, but I enjoy being rural and going to the local shop. It's a different feeling from a city, where you don't get that personal touch. Just stupid stuff like knowing the guy in the shop and recognising faces, rather than just drifting through London anonymously.

And you've already got some gigs planned for the summer.
Yeah, that's right. I think by then I'll probably be looking forward to doing something. And hopefully, if all goes well, I'll have some things that I can try out.

Are you happy to play songs live before you've recorded them?
Well, only if they're tried and tested in the studio. And maybe play them in front of a few people before I try them out on stage, definitely. I'm not *that* confident. I'm still learning a lot from writing and stuff. So I don't just wanna go out there and play something that's a load of shit. But if I really like it, then yeah, I'll do it. I'm certainly hoping that I will be able to play people some new stuff at those shows.

**If you missed part one, click here to read it**