James singer Tim Booth has said that returning to a famous recording studio to make their 13th album revealed some wild stories from the band's past.
The Manchester band are back after a six-year absence with Le Petit Mort, which they recorded in some of London's most established studios, including RAK , founded in the 1970s by producer Mickie Most.
"It was funny when we were there," said Tim. "We all got on so well with the staff, but after a couple of weeks, we found out that they'd been warned before we arrived. The manager of the studio said 'They might look a mild-mannered bunch, but they were here in the 1990s and they're the most rock 'n' roll band we've ever had'.
"Because of the wild time we had, most of us didn't remember what we'd done that was so horrific, so we had to be reminded. There was one story about me wearing a thong, a fur coat and heels getting ready to go to a club that was entertaining. No one sold stories in those days, so it remained secret. And these days, I prefer big Y fronts."
Le Petit Mort translates to "the little death", which on one hand, is a French term for orgasm. On the other, it refers to events in Tim's private life and is inspired by the deaths of his mother and his best friend.
"Look how hard it is to say," he said. "Someone died, and no one wants to mention it. We were told calling an album The Little Death wouldn't be very appealing, because people are so scared of the word. But the album is really uplifting, so there was a worry we would give the wrong impression."
Tim can't understand why so few writers pen songs explicitly about birth, sex and death, citing Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen as two who buck the trend.
"They're the most primal things, after food and shelter. For me, they're the moments where you get a glimpse of something that makes everything else seem like a bit of a dream. Birth and death are quite similar, too. A lot of the women I know who've given birth say they feel like they're going to die, because they're so close to their edge. And in a weird way, my mother dying in my arms was like a birth, there was something very strong there. I don't think there's anything depressing about Le Petit Mort, it's the cusp of love, death and sex. How wonderful."
:: James' 13th album Le Petit Mort is out now. They tour the UK throughout November.