James' co-manager Meredith Plant has spoken to Music Week about the much-loved band's new LP All The Colours Of You and impending 40th anniversary.
The enduring group's 16th studio album, All The Colours Of You is their first to come out via new label Virgin Music Label & Artists Services (formerly Caroline International) and also their first since switching their publishing to Kobalt Music.
"Within the Virgin label services model, we've been able to create a completely handpicked team," said Plant, who co-manages the band with Pro Music Management's Peter Rudge. "[MD] Jim Chancellor is one of the best A&R men in the country and we've been working for the first time with people like [promotions executive] Kevin McCabe at radio. He has been incredibly strategic, whilst also being realistic as to where they sit, and has been wonderful so far at pulling together this campaign.
"The Kobalt guys have also been very creative. We've got a big sync at the moment with Sit Down for Adidas for their worldwide Euros campaign. That's the first time we've synced [1991 breakthrough single] Sit Down since it was used for the Game Of Thrones season seven trailer, which was a pretty massive placement in 2017."
Their refusal to play the game has probably cost them greater commercial success at certain points in their career
Meredith Plant, Pro Music Management
Recorded in part before the onset of the pandemic, All The Colours Of You was produced by Grammy award-winning Jacknife Lee
"James have always been mavericks," said Plant. "They've always insisted on beating to their own drum and their refusal to play the game has probably cost them greater commercial success at certain points in their career. But that's also been key to their appeal and longevity.
"This record has obviously been recorded in an incredibly strange and unexpected time. And I hope from that they've developed not only a positive association with Jackknife Lee, but also a completely different way of working - a virtual collaboration. They've found it incredibly invigorating actually, and are hugely surprised and proud of the result."
Plant is hopeful of bettering the chart performance of the Tim Booth-fronted group's prescient 2018 LP Living In Extraordinary Times (28,948 sales, OCC), released via BMG, which peaked at No.6.
"It's hard when you're a largely physical artist to keep up with the streaming acts week of release, but we're going in with a really healthy pre-order and I think from our end it's expected to be Top 3," said Plant. "But from a management perspective, we're always trying to measure our growth and success based on broader areas of touring and sync, rather than just looking at the Spotify spins on the latest single. But fingers crossed, it's shaping up well and the reviews have been excellent."
James, who celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2022, have already sold 60,000 tickets for their November and December UK arena tour. The band are also scheduled to headline the opening night of the Heritage Live concert series at Kenwood House in London's Hampstead Heath on June 24.
"Fingers crossed, the regulations allow it to go ahead," said Plant. "We've also got seven festivals in September and then our tour in December, which is pretty much sold out. Going back to the strange climate of the pandemic, we timed that incredibly well with putting the tour up the week that the vaccine was [announced] last year. It's probably our fastest-selling tour."
Plant stressed that by never relying on past glories, James have managed to steer clear of being branded a heritage act.
"They could go out and just play those old anthemic singalongs, but they're hungrier for more than that - they are always trying to challenge themselves and their fans," she said. "Reinvigorating the team around us has been very important and we're now working towards the band's 40th anniversary plans for next year, where it feels like they should really get the credit they deserve."