UNKLE’s James Lavelle on working with Josh Homme and Richard Ashcroft, and his new album ‘The Road: Part 1’

"We've been through a lot together"

UNKLE co-founder James Lavelle has opened up on working with Josh Homme and Richard Ashcroft, after the trip-hop pioneer collaborated with the two on several different projects.

In 2014, Lavelle worked with Homme on Queens Of The Stone Age’s ‘Like Clockwork’, lending his talents to the title track. Homme, in return, performed a rare solo show at Meltdown Festival, which had been curated personally by Lavelle.

“With Josh it has been a very long relationship. We’ve been through a lot together. It’s all very close as friends and collaborators”, he told NME.


With Ashcroft, Lavelle has also enjoyed a long working relationship, with the pair notably joining forces on Unkle’s Lonely Soul.

“When I worked with Richard Ashcroft it was that thing of, we’re going to change the world, – we certainly did at the time”, he said.

Lavelle also opened up on recording Unkle’s latest album, ‘The Road: Part 1’, which sees the group teaming up with the likes of Keaton Henson, ESKA, and Mark Lanegan.

“It was great and it was a really non-stressful record to make. They’re really talented and they bring that to the table. There was a real creative energy – it wasn’t dramatic”, he said.

“It was really about just making music. Whilst that sounds silly because there are a lot of other things that sometimes come into the mix and can be influential in making records, this record was really just about trying to craft a great record.”


UNKLE’s new album ‘The Road: Part 1’ is out now. ‘When Things Explode’ will see a night of UNKLE films at the Sackler Space at Roundhouse Studios in London on 29 September.

“There’s a whole thing that we’re doing in Camden, going back to more of my old roots for soul and reggae and jazz, Lavelle told NME. “Then we’re doing KOKO as a live performance. Then we’ve got a screening and a Q&A at the Roundhouse. Then there’s a pop-up gig. So, it’s about ten days of stuff going on in Camden. I live in Camden – Soho and Camden were the first two places I came to discover music in London.

“Camden is the first place I really saw proper DJing and sound system things. I used to go to the Soul II Soul shop and Soul II Soul were one of the first bands I ever saw in North London. In the days that I first started coming here, it was full of amazing record shops. It’s still full of amazing venues. It felt like a nice idea to do something, working with as much things as you can within that area. I sort of view Camden as this cultural place and it has inspiration for me.”

Speaking of his evolution as an artist, Lavelle added: “I’m probably a lot calmer and I live a very different lifestyle. I was very young; I started making that record when I was 21 – I’m 43 now. My life has changed – it’s not as hedonistic.

“I spent time in different environments. When I was that age I never wanted to be on the beach or the countryside. I wanted to be in New York or Tokyo or something. Now I just like space. I also really feel like I’m starting again in the process of how I make records and where I’m at. That’s quite interesting for me. It’s strange. In your 40s you’re not as naïve. The choices that you look at are different. I don’t throw myself so much into the fire as I maybe would have at the beginning. Which was great but also miserable at times.”

Lavelle went on: “For me now I have experience, so I hope to start learning from some of my mistakes and some of the situations that I’ve been through – both good and bad. Also, I’ve got a 20-year-old daughter, she’s just gone to university so my life is a lot different. Life has changed. The fundamental thing for me, which is really what I like at the moment, is that I feel more like I did when I was 18/19/20 about making music and discovering things and not being a part of all the stuff that goes on around it. When you get thrust into the limelight, there’s a lot more stuff that gets in the mix.”