When James headed off to a studio in the Highlands to make their new album, all ideas were on the table.

Singing in French, however, took even the band members by surprise.

The language switch came on their new track Alvin, one of the tunes on Girl At The End Of The World, a record they’re bringing to the SSE Hydro on Thursday night.

“It started with a daft drumbeat on the drum machine, and we called it Alvin because it sounded like an Alvin Stardust song,” recalls bassist Jim Glennie, the group’s longest serving member.

“Madly enough, when we did the jam, Tim (Booth, singer) started singing in lyrics in French – I haven’t the foggiest idea why he would do that, but he did. His French isn’t very good, either, so in pidgin French he starts singing to this jam, and at the end we were like ‘what is it? We’ve got a mad, quirky pop song’.

“It was just a strange moment that we can’t really explain – maybe it’s what happens when you get cabin fever!”

Whether it’s cabin fever or not, taking themselves away for a few weeks certainly seems to help the band, who’ve been going since the 1980s. They stuck to the same formula for Girl at the End of the World as they did on previous record La Petite Mort, taking themselves away to the Highlands and shutting themselves away for a few weeks.

The results of both records have been impressive both critically and commercially, with their newest effort only just failing to edge Adele off the top of the album charts, while their upcoming tour is one of their biggest jaunts ever.

“We locked ourselves away for three weeks in the winter with no distractions, and we just got our heads down and worked,” explains Jim.

“There were a few walks on windswept beaches to get away (from the studio) but basically we just worked.

“We knew that it would be an intense period of time and that we had a lot to do. Geographically we don’t live together anymore, so when we do get together it can be tense and busy – we would get in in the morning and start working, or be listening to things from the day before.

“They were busy, long days, but really creative and productive. It’s fantastic to see it come together before your eyes, and knowing that you’ve cracked it.”

They’ll now bring the new album to Glasgow on Thursday, and while many bands with a hefty back catalogue will only play a few new songs, James have always been the sort of band dedicated to playing fresh material.

That means they change their sets every night, and there’s no guarantee that all their big hits (Sit Down, Laid, She’s A Star etc) will be played. Their last Glasgow gig saw Sit Down omitted, resulting in some complaints from fans on Twitter, including Scottish Tories leader Ruth Davidson.

“It’s never easy being a James fan,” laughs Jim.

“We’ll never go out and just play the big hits night after night and we try to make it clear to people that’s not who we are – if we were just playing the same songs at every gig then we’d have got bored and split up years ago.

“We’re playing the songs that we want to play, and that sometimes means resting songs. Fortunately the bulk of the James fanbase knows that’s what we do, and loves us for it.”

Whatever they play on the night, Jim is delighted to be back in Scotland. As well as providing a base for their last two albums, James have also been regular visitors here since their early days.

“It’s been incredibly supportive, especially in the early days when James were struggling to get a foothold in the industry,” he says.

“The city’s always been incredibly loyal and that’s never changed, from playing to not very many people to shows like the Hydro, and we’ve got a lot of friends there.”

The fact that James are still playing arenas while many of their contemporaries have broken up or slid out of relevance is something that still surprises the bassist, though.

“I think we’re selling more tickets on this tour than ever before, which is bonkers, mental,” he adds.

“It’s still something where you pinch yourself every morning because you’re so fortunate to be doing something you love.”

James, SSE Hydro, Thursday, £37.50, 7pm