Jon McClure | Gesang, Gitarre
Ed Cosens | Bass
Tom Jarvis | Gitarre
Joe Moskow | Keyboard
Richie Westley | Schlagzeug
Laura Manuel | Gesang, Keyboard
Stuart Doughtry | Schlaginstrumente
The State Of Things (2007)
A French Kiss In The Chaos (2009)
Heavy Weight Champion Of The World (2007)
He Said He Loved Me (2007)
Open Your Window (2007)
Sundown On The Empire / 18-30 / The Machine Remixes (2008)
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Reverend & The Makers
“I'm into butterflies and mermaids and things that alter themselves,” Jon says. “I wanted to do that a bit. The thing of being trapped in a situation that you don't want to be in is something that I readily identify with... I got pushed around a bit by people making decisions on my behalf that I was never comfortable with. It was almost like they made me make a sanitised version of what the Monkeys were doing, for the radio, which was never what I wanted to do and I felt desperately unhappy. I ended up becoming like a pop star like Calvin Harris or something, and I was never that guy.”
|25.09.09||19:00||Hamburg - Reeperbahn Festival Intro Intim @ Uebel & Gefährlich|
|22.02.10||21:00||München - The Atomic Café|
|23.02.10||21:00||Frankfurt - Nachtleben|
|24.02.10||21:00||Berlin - Lido|
|25.02.10||21:00||Köln - Gebäude 9|
|26.02.10||19:30||Hamburg - Turmzimmer [Uebel & Gefährlich]|
The debut album ‘The State Of Things’ – despite its huge popularity (it reached Number 5 in the UK) and the success of it’s second single ‘He Said He Loved Me’ (Number 16) – was, however, unrepresentative of McClure’s vim and vision. In place of fist-beaten manifestos for a New World Order there were songs about 18-30 holidays, fruit machines, drunken dumpees in discos and Stella’d-up wife-beaters: scenes of grim social satire set to the sounds of populist electro-pop and Madchester funk. A window on the world, for sure, but one muddied with working class grit and indignation.
“The thing about the first album, I wrote it seven years ago,” Jon explains, “and obviously that album is more of ‘what Jon did in five years’ and you can tell because it’s very disjointed. There are some good moments on it, don’t get me wrong, but I was doing my thing and Alex started to do his thing and what you got then were loads of bands hanging around who started to do that social commentary thing and by the time I got my record out it was almost pastiche.”
Still, McClure was undeniably a Man Of The People, and his passion for politics found outlets in his Mongrel side-project – a rap-rock collective featuring Babyshambles’ Drew McConnell, Arctic Monkeys’ Andy Nicholson and Matt Helders, Joe Moskow and rapper Lowkey - and in his ferociously pursued Instigate Debate project, about which Jon recently presented a speech to the Nobel Committee. In the meantime, closeted beneath the streets of Soho at the Dean Street Studios with producer Jagz Kooner for the best part of 2008, Jon taught himself to play guitar and Reverend And The Makers inched towards the completion of their second album ‘A French Kiss In The Chaos’, high on the 60’s psychedelia of the ‘Nuggets’ compilation and wild-assed desert hallucinogens.
“We were taking a lot of that kind of drugs, peyote and salvia divinorum, the real mind-benders,” Jon admits. “It genuinely takes you to another place in your mind. The casualties are that as the band goes on we leave people behind because they literally can’t handle it. It’s not something I’m proud of, it’s not something that I think is cool, it’s just the way it is.”
So, as 1998 progressed, they found guitarist Tom Jarvis and drummer Richy Westley fallen by the wayside, unable to keep the pace.
“It’s hard to be in our band,” says Jon, “We like to really have it but we’ve mashed a lot of our friends up along the way. We had three years of just caning it. Whatever we could get our hands on, we’d have. The lads in our band are genuinely nutters.”
Indeed mid-2008, amid press criticism and plagued by death threats for his anti-BNP statements, Jon almost lost it himself and considered quitting music for good. “The main difference between this album and the first album, I have to be honest, is drugs. I took a lot of fucking drugs since the last album. Too many drugs. During the time I said I was gonna quit I literally went a bit bonkers. I went to Nigeria with Damon [Albarn] on the Afrika Express thing and I had a genuine nervous breakdown, laid flat on my back for three weeks not even being able to talk. I was staying in this hotel and I literally lost my mind. I really fucking freaked myself out. I felt like I was doing a really good thing and people almost didn’t believe me. It really got to me, the frustrations of it all. I remember sitting in this hotel room and I’ve never felt like it before, literally feeling like I was going to lose my mind and start talking babble. The closer you get to that line it’s really scary. People were saying ‘we need to get him to a place to help him out’ and that can’t be a healthy thing, that.”
But with ex-Milburn guitarist Tom Rowley on board, he now feels they’re back on track. “Now we’re in quite a healthy place. Everyone can handle what we’re doing and it’s cool. I was worried we’d end up like The Fall or something.” Additionally, McClure is now on prescribed drugs to help combat his anxiety attacks. “It’s not like Prozac, it’s not an anti-depressant, it’s a leveller. And I think you can definitely hear that in the music.”
What you can hear most in the revelatory ‘A French Kiss In The Chaos’, in fact, is Jon McClure turning his sharp social eye in upon himself, finding his own positive place in a fucked up world. While it deals with issues of global import -‘The End’ talks of the onrushing end of Labour rule coinciding with the apocalyptic predictions of the Mayan calendar; ‘Hidden Persuaders’ concerns the infiltrating influence of US advertising upon UK society; ‘Mermaids’ tackles trans-gender issues - McClure himself is always integrally wrapped up in their cause and consequence.
So ‘Professor Pickles’ considers the theory that GPs are in league with GlaxoSmithKline to keep prescribing unnecessary drugs in order to keep the medical industry afloat, but on the back of McClure’s own chemical dependency. First single ‘Silence Is Talking’ decries the dumbing down of British popular culture on the back of McClure’s experience of being derided for being the only politically outspoken rock star of his generation. And “Manifesto/People Shapers’ attacks the BNP’s tactics, the lyrics inspired by the threats of violence Jon himself received.
“There was a man and a woman who were continually ringing my mum and dad up and saying ‘we’re gonna fucking kill you, he’s a little bastard, he’s a communist’. It was really venomous and the police were involved. They turned up to the Mongrel gigs with knuckle-dusters, four of them at the back, hitting our fans and waiting for us outside the venue. We’re playing four hundred capacity venues and you’re trapped in a little toilet with four massive skinheads outside wanting to kill you. It’s very scary.”
Then there are the solidly personal tracks: ‘No Wood Just Trees’ about Jon’s breakdown in Nigeria, the incredible pop smash in waiting ‘No Soap In A Dirty War’ about not wanting to settle for the standard suburban life that his friends did and ‘Long Long Time’, about his bleakest moments of simply wanting to disappear.
“I’ve considered running away lots of times,” Jon explains. “In fact I did run away recently and this guy Mark came and found me because I was going to do one. I’ve got four members of my family who’ve all committed suicide and it’s a bit of a fucking doomy outlook that we’re possessed with. I went as low as it’s probably possible to get. You can see where Richey was coming from, especially if you’re a sensitive person. My problem is I give it all this ‘I’m a geezer’ but really I’m a complete pussy, if anyone says anything nasty about me I go and cry about it and get right upset. I’ve been there, ‘right, I’m ready to go’ but maybe I’m too soft or maybe a little bit of your mind has to snap before you can do that. But I’m attracted to it, it’s an attractive proposition.”
Amazing, for all its paranoia, pain and politik, that ‘A French Kiss In The Chaos’ sounds like such an uplifting record. And as unexpected as a R&TM record could be. Infused with the classic psychedelic shapes of Velvet Underground, 13th Floor Elevators, Ennio Morricone, The Doors and Zager & Evans’ ‘In The Year 2525’ – but whisked into the 21st Century with The Makers’ vital electronica – it’s a record that astounds as much for its giant leaps in songwriting nous (there’s not a duff track on it, basically) as for its lack of cheesy disco beats. It’s a record of consummate lushness and refined pop languor. ‘Silence Is Talking’ - a concoction of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and War’s ‘Low Rider’ dreamt up by The Reverend on a pilled-up dawn walk home from Sheffield’s Club 60 basement smoke-easy to his parent’s house sixteen miles away – is all Dandy Warhols purple haze. ‘Hidden Persuaders’ is a peyote powered spaghetti Western theme. ‘Professor Pickles’ is a narcotic waltz; ‘No Soap In A Dirty War’ hovers somewhere in the dreamy hinterland between The New Seekers and Glasvegas. There’s surf guitar, mariachi and luscious Californian desert atmospheres. A result, perhaps, of it being mixed in California.
“Dave Sardy rang us up,” Jon recalls, “and said ‘I really want to mix this record, Noel’s been raving to me about it, come out to California’. The first album’s about me living in Sheffield and kitchen sink drama, which is very boring really. This album’s got a wider vision on it. There’s something about it that’s a bit Californian desert and I kinda liked it for that.”
But the defining characteristics: the optimism, the positivity. It’s a record of fulfilled potential and answered critics. Of expectations shattered and horizons broadened. It’s the record that only The Reverend himself really knew he was capable of.
“I feel like a footballer who’s never quite fulfilled his potential whereas now I think I have a little bit more,” Jon grins. “I think people want us to succeed, they just want us to make good music. I’ve always had the talk to make me the man, I’ve just never had the music to back it up. Now I feel like I’ve made a really fucking good record and it actually means something.”
Meet the person behind the politics, witness the turmoil behind the tub-thumping, greet the real Reverend. The transformation is a jaw-dropper.