Sunday, 11 October 2015

The Jesus And Mary Chain - Interview with Jim Reid

Jim Reid (left) and brother William.
This article is something of a departure from my usual fare in terms of blogging subject matter. If anything, it's also probably by far the most self-indulgent piece I've ever produced - and no doubt if you've ever spent a few moments reading my stuff and nonsense, that really is saying something. However it's my blog, so my rules.

I felt the urge a little while ago to to do a little something different on my blog. However as the court ruling has yet to be made on that other outstanding matter, I'll have stick with the subject of this piece. For some reason I've been thinking about music quite a lot recently, in fact it came to a head the other day when I overheard some people talking in my office (day job duties I'm afraid). They were extolling the virtues of the latest gig they had attended.... "What a show they put on"......."They played all their hits"......"Ooooh they're still so cute" .... were just three of the comments from women who are quite frankly old enough to know better. It was the Take That concert which had taken place here in the North East of Scotland. Yes that's right. Take. Bloody. That. Just why we deserved a visit from them evades me. The ladies then followed that particular conversation up with a look forward to Elton John playing later that week in Aberdeen, well you could have killed me then and I would have thanked you for it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a music snob, just the same as I'm not a Sci-fi & horror snob. It's just that the world of music that they were extolling upon wasn't just a world away from what rocks my particular boat, it was a bloody Alpha Centuri away......and then some. 

My own particular music loves have often fallen into time-frames of personal obsession, though the interviewee in this article needn't worry, I don't mean in a restraining order stalking sort of way. I tend to fixate on their musical output to the point that I go gorge myself over a periods where I try and buy everything I can find that they've ever made. Over the years there have been a number of these obsessions; Robert Johnson, The Velvet Underground, The Beatles, Nick Drake, Pink Floyd, The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Ramones, Radiohead and The Libertines - to name but a few. 

One particular group has for quite a number of years been a constant reminder of just how much I can become obsessed when it comes to music. So much so that I'll be taking one particular song of theirs with me when this here blogger departs this mortal coil. For me, nothing in music has ever equalled power and beauty of The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Back in the day I emulated this look & tried to look as cool
 - I failed miserably......
In fact I've already decided on three of the songs that I want to be played at my funeral. They are, in no particular order;

* April Skies by The Jesus and Mary Chain

* Happiness is a warm Gun by The Beatles

* The Ying Tong song by The Goons.

Now before I cause panic in the hearts of countless women, blog readers and the manufacturers of restraining orders around the world (well at least in my mind), I'm not about to peg it just yet. No, I'm planning to be around for many, many years - Which thinking about it, may well be more likely to cause panic in the hearts of even more women and blog readers etc.

Anyhoo back to The Jesus and Mary Chain. Let's face it, for those of us that were around in the 1980's the music scene was generally crap at the best of times and its worst was bordering on soul destroying. However amongst the constant drivel of the New Romantic tosh of Duran Duran et al, the soullessness of the electronic scene  as well as the mind boggling depressing plasticity of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, there was wonderful 'alternative' scene to save ones sanity. The likes of The Smiths, The Cure, Bauhaus and numerous others were the source of ones musical solace in the same way that John Carpenter was an oasis of cinematic pleasure from the rest of the 1980's Top Gunesque crap.

The Jesus and Mary Chain were perhaps everything I wanted in music at the time, some quite beautiful songs intermixed with sounds of power and danger. There was some Jim Morrison, Velvet Underground, Ramones all in there - but they were far more than that. Whether it was the occasional wall of white noise feedback, the 'couldn't give one flying fuck attitude' or the true essence of Rock & Roll, they had everything I needed and in the few albums that they produced I took all that they had to give. Yep, they were my musical true bliss.

Of course, towards the end of the 1980's The Jesus and Mary Chain slowly began to disintegrate as drink, drugs and in-fighting eventually took its inevitable toll. By the end of the 90's the group was no more. It wasn't until a few short years ago that brothers Jim and William Reid decided to reform the Mary Chain. This suggested that not only was there a chance that new audiences would experience the back catalogue of stunning music that had once been produced on classic albums such as Psychocandy and Darklands, but maybe some new material would be produced too?......

So I ask you what is happiness? I shall tell you. Happiness is discovering that a friend of yours is also a good friend of one of your favourite ever groups and that your friend will ask the lead singer of said favourite group for a brief interview for ones blog. Happiness is learning that said lead singer/songwriter is happy to respond to ones inane questions. 

So what follows is an interview with Jim Reid who graciously gave some time to answer some of my 'tell me why you're so fab & great' questions.



THE INTERVIEW BIT.......



Better than Psychocandy......Oh yes it is.
Q) I believe that we share a mutual love of The Velvet Underground (for me, Pale Blue eyes & Sweet Jane are practically perfect). How much of an influence were they in your musical development?

A) The Velvet Underground along with many others were a huge influence on the Mary Chain, particularly at the beginning of the band.  But even now not much time goes by without me playing something by the Velvets.  In the mid nineteen sixties they just seemed almost ludicrously ahead of their time.


Q) I know the Psychocandy album tends to get most of the plaudits - but Darklands is actually my personal favourite. What are your memories of making that album?

A) By the time we got around to making Darklands there seemed to be a lot of pressure that wasn't around when we recorded Psychocandy.  I remember reading a couple of comments in the music papers - something along the lines of the band should split up before they go and ruin it all!  We seemed to be in an impossible situation.  We felt that had we followed Psychocandy up with more of the same, we would have been crucified for that, but not to do that, we would have been accused of selling out.  In the end we just thought Fuck it, let's just make the record we want to make and let everybody else deal with it.  Darklands, as with any Mary Chain record, we always imagined what people might think of it 10 years down the line.  At all costs we wanted to make a record that we would feel good about at any point in the future.


Q) I'm sure that you're thrilled (sic) to know that I plan to have April Skies played at my funeral. What would be on your funeral playlist?

A) For years I'd left instructions with my sister Linda that if I should die before her, she should play As We Go Along by the Monkees, which would segue into Born to Lose by the Heartbreakers, just as my coffin starts to disappear through the curtain.  I'm not so sure now if I'd even have music or a funeral.  I've toyed with the idea of having my fingerprints burned off with acid and any identifiable features removed, and have my naked body placed on the top of a London double decker bus.  As yet I have no takers to help me achieve this.


Q) Your cover of 'My Girl' was a beaut - if there was one other cover that you wish that you could have done (or still do) what would it be?

A) Really, if we had wanted to do any cover of any particular song, we probably would have done it by now.  But very recently it occurred to me that the Mary Chain could do a very good job of Midnight Moses by the Alex Harvey Band.


Jim Reid on stage in Miami - the
last show of the latest tour.
Q) I've been watching some excerpts of the recent tour of the U.S - what has the reaction been over there to you guys again?

A) The reaction has been generally pretty good and it's nice to look out there and see younger kids that weren't even born at the time we were making these records.


Q) Is touring any easier, better, worse an experience for you than it was earlier in your career?


A) It's not nicer or easier, it's just different.  As to how easy a tour is for me, largely depends on whether I'm drinking or not.  I'm sober at the moment so finding it quite tough.


Q) What news, if any, about the much vaunted album of new material from The Jesus and Mary Chain?

A) We are in the process of recording that record right now, but it's early days.


Q) Personally I think the current music scene is pure crap. What's your opinion?

A) I gave up listening to new music quite a while ago.  The kind of music I'm interested in moves in cycles.  After a while you get to the point where you came in.  There's not much in rock music that is truly unique.  I'd rather listen to Television than listen to some new band that sound like Television.  Also, great music has a way of getting through to the people that would appreciate it anyway.  I've heard some great bands in the past that got through to me without me reading music mags or listening to the radio.


Q) Do you feel you've mellowed with age, or like me do you still get as angry as ever?

A) I suppose in some ways it's inevitable, but not quite that simple.  I guess the older I get, the more tolerant I am of some things.  Having kids tends to put things into perspective too.  Sometimes I do feel a little ground down by the weight of the bullshit that one encounters.  But having said all that, I suppose I can still have a good rant with the best of them.


Q) One for my blog - what's your favourite movie and why?

A)  I like movies very much and couldn't pick just one film.  But since you do a sci-fi blog, I love The Illustrated Man, which was based on the book by Ray Bradbury, which I also loved.


Q) You're going to play up here in Aberdeen at some point, right? :-)


A) I guess when we get this new album together there will be the inevitable tours.  Let's see what we can do about Aberdeen...



Funeral song number 1



I cannot thank Jim enough for taking a little time to talk to this fan. Of course, reading that last sentence "Let's see what we can do about Aberdeen..." in other words means that Jim and I are now regarded as BFF's in his mind and that he's probably right at this moment rearranging the Jesus and Mary Chain itinerary to include a few shows nearer to where I live here in the the North East of Scotland.  Thanks Jim.


To read the current news about shows (before they're amended to suit just me) and find read (better written than this) accounts of the band then visit their website at http://thejesusandmarychain.uk.com

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