THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN bring their trademark searing, feedback drenched rock and roll to The Gov this Friday.
Brothers William and Jim Reid led THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN to become pioneers of the post-punk notion. Like mad scientists, the brothers would concoct formulas of noisy, effects-driven scores to accompany lyrics of angst and discontent. This would be there modus operandi from their 1985 debut Psychocandy through to their most recent work, 2017’s Damage And Joy. Jim speaks to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about touring and their mighty return to Australia.
It’s fantastic news that Jesus & Mary Chain are coming to Adelaide on this tour…
Yeah, that’s right!
Is it tough putting together a set list that would keep the staunchest of fans happy?
The hard thing really is what to leave out, we have quite a lot of songs to choose from. If we wanted to we could do a different set every night. We’ve been playing quite a lot over the last couple of years and we have figured out what gets people going.
Are you the most satisfied musically now than you ever have been before?
That is kind of difficult to say, we’re more relaxed about playing live. We have been in a pretty good place musically for the whole of our career really. I suppose the early days we were more tense about how it came across to our live audience. All these years later people are still coming to see us and that makes us a bit more relaxed .
Can you believe the journey the band has had since reforming back in 2007? It seems to be getting bigger and bigger and better and better for the band…
Thanks for saying that, it has been quite a journey and we’re enjoying every minute of it, hoping that continues.
Getting back in the head space of making Damage And Joy did you have a lot of doubts in your own mind about whether that was the right thing to do, contemplate or even attempt doing?
No, we were pretty sure that this is the record we want to make. We were sure we wanted to make a record. The only concern that I had was the actual process of making the record sounded quite daunting. We reformed in 2007, we have travelled and toured a lot but that’s one thing. Getting in to the recording studio is a completely different ball game. I knew we were getting on well enough to tour I wasn’t sure how it would go down in a recording studio because it’s such a claustrophobic, small environment to shared.
When I think back to Munki I thought do I really want to do that but the answer was always yes but when were we going to get around to do doing it. So many people kept saying where is this new record and I was lying through my teeth for years by saying we were putting the finishing touches on it. It got to the point where this is ridiculous, making a fucking record! This is what we do, so just knuckle down and it was enjoyable in a weird way. We became friends again during the recording of that record which was a win/ win.
Were you surprised with how much the recording of Damage And Joy helped repair the relationship with your brother?
I suppose I was surprised, I didn’t know how it was going to go down. It went much better than I could have ever imagined, so I was quite surprised. It is weird because we get on better than what we had for decades more than years.
Did it take quite a bit to get your head around how much the recording process had changed?
We used a producer on that record for the first time and that was one of the reasons why we thought a producer might be a good idea because the studio would be unrecognisable as we were used to recording in the nineties.
The other reason for going with a producer is that if all the old troubles started all over again and that we started screaming at each other having another presence in the studio might calm things down a bit like having your Headmaster there who would kick your arses when you start acting like you are twelve years old. We didn’t end up needing a producer for that side of things because we got on quite well. It works out well with the technology and all that.
It is amazing what can be done now which saves so much time. Back in the day you would have an idea, then you would try and record a string section spending three or four days getting people with cellos, violins and whatever to find out that the idea doesn’t work. To come up with an idea and spend two minutes on a computer, you’ve halved the idea you’ve just described. It is amazing how things have developed. The last three records, that side of things was quite interesting. We couldn’t handle that on our own.
Have you been pleased with how fans have embraced the album?
We felt quite good about what we had when we recorded it but you just don’t know when people hear it and think it’s not for us. Also live we were worried that when we played songs from the new record there would be a dip in the set. Those new songs seem as if they have always been there and fit in so well.
Has The Jesus & Mary Chain sound changed much in your opinion?
The brief for doing the new album was that it wouldn’t be much of a departure and the first record in so many years. We didn’t want to come back sounding like another band. We tried to get parts of every period of the Mary Chain together on one album and I think we did quite well and it is how it sounds which is unmistakably Mary Chain.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch The Jesus And Mary Chain at The Gov on Friday night. Tickets from Metropolis Touring.