It's something I never thought I'd hear: Jim Bob - the man who once seemingly made it his mission to oust Maggie Thatcher Milk Snatcher through the power of bile-fuelled, politically charged indie music - quoting Phil Collins.
"I do still think of myself as a musician, I suppose," he shrugs as we discuss the fact that, when we spoke last year, he told BobbySix.com that he had no inclination to put out any new songs or albums in the foreseeable future. "In spite of all the books and stuff, that's what I'll always be I guess. I have moments when I think I want to write a new album, usually when I'm inspired by hearing somebody else's music that I either love or hate. Phil Collins said recently that he wasn't making new music because he had nothing to say. I hate to quote Phil Collins but I do feel a bit like that at the moment. I get confused if I think about it too much. I feel like I've betrayed myself as a musician by being lazy."
The good news for attendees of June's That Comedy Thing in Eastbourne is that Jim Bob's back-catalogue is bursting with quality. The singer/songwriter has released plenty of solo records and had best-selling singles and albums in the early 1990s as part of indie/pop/punk/dance crossover duo, Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine. So, considering that he has to squeeze over two decades of music into half-an-hour, what can people expect from his performance at That Comedy Thing at The Lamb Inn? "I'm not totally sure," he admits. "I imagine a fairly short set of songs played on the acoustic guitar. I haven't done a conventional gig for quite some time, so I'll probably make things up closer to the night depending on how I feel at the time." He pauses. "I've made it sound rubbish, haven't I? It'll be an incredible set of my most popular songs interspersed with great anecdotes and probably a bubble machine."
The low-key and intimate night in the ancient Eastbourne alehouse stands in complete contrast to the gigs Jim has in store later in the year. While Carter may have been best-known for silly haircuts and angry social commentary, they were also an absolutely brilliant live band. So much so that, when, in 2007, they announced that they were to reprise the sweat-drenched live Carter experience with shows in London and Glasgow that would simultaneously serve as reunion and farewell gigs, tickets sold out in a heartbeat. Due to their popularity, rather than acting as the full-stop they initially intended them to be, the gigs marked the beginning of an occasional coming-together of Jim Bob and his old mate Fruitbat (below). In November, they'll be stomping around the stages of the Brixton and Manchester Academies, and preparations for these shindigs are coming along steadily. "We've been talking about the gigs and have a rough idea of the songs we'll be playing. We want to make the shows as good if not better than the previous ones. At the moment we have no surprises planned but I imagine there will be some. I tend to spend too much time thinking about what I'm going to wear and what to do with my hair. I'm incredibly shallow."
More pressing than these nights of singalong mayhem is their first festival appearance in a very, very long time. "Need to get fit," Jim says of their headline appearance at Beautiful Days at Escot Park in the heart of Devon in August. "Festival gigs involve more shouting and running than conventional gigs."
Carter concerts and entertaining Eastbourne's most discerning punters aside, Jim Bob's focus lies away from music at the moment. Having released the critically acclaimed novel Storage Stories last year, his new book is well on its way to completion. Storage Stories, a fictional autobiography told in words and pictures, was laugh-out-loud funny, gripping and often rather touching, as Jim Bob combined darkness with the wonderfully witty and surreal to create a strange sense of doomed romance in an otherwise mundane, miserable and menacing England. Will his new offering take a similar shape? "I don't want to curse it yet by giving too much away but basically it's about two blokes in a car driving from Devon to London and one of them has discovered the other's secret. It's similar in style to Storage Stories. It's funny and there are pictures. It's probably a bit darker. I hope to get it out in time for Christmas."
From the enthusiasm with which he talks about his burgeoning writing career, and the fact that he mentions an idea he has had for another book and also a film screenplay, it's clear that this is where Jim Bob's heart lies right now. His creative juices have obviously been stirred and it seems that his foray into the literary world has opened plenty of other doors as well. "I've been enjoying what has happened to me in the past year or so. It was pretty unintended and unplanned. The little bit of acting in the musical Gutted, the comedy-related gigs and the literary events. I've met some amazing new people recently and every now and then one of them asks me to take part in something."
However, while it may seem that Jim's future lies away from the recording studio, excitingly there is still some musical output from this outstanding songwriter. "I've got one newish song on the Miles Hunt Shared album and I've recorded a cover of a song [Mr Blue Sky] for a radio comedy drama theme tune," he tells us. On top of this, two brand new acoustic tracks appeared on his Soundcloud page last month.
With so many creative ventures on the go, these are exciting times for Jim Bob and he is ready to embrace whatever the future throws at him. "Anything could happen really," he beams.
Jim Bob can be seen performing alongside Isy Suttie at The Lamb Inn in Eastbourne as part of That Comedy Thing on Tuesday 7th June. Such a strong line-up will ensure that tickets will sell out fast, so don't delay in booking yours today from Oxboffice.com For more information on Jim Bob, visit his website. In the meantime, here's one of his brand new songs:
LONDON 2012 by mrjimbob
Interview by Rob Townsend.