The Jesus And Mary Chain are not the kind of band you would have expected to see touring their back catalogue in middle age. That they made it to middle age at all is its own achievement really considering singer Jim Reid’s notorious love of drugs and drink and the band’s notoriously volatile relationship.
Their feedback drenched pop music earning them them a reputation for fusing fearless originality with classic pop songwriting, the band now find themselves on the other side of an acrimonious break up, touring the world revisiting their debut album Psychocandy 30 years after its release.
Yet where other bands of their ilk are often prone either to re-invent or re-imagine their classic hits or otherwise just phone in the performance, for Reid and The Mary Chain (as he calls the band), their approach is to do their music justice and play the songs the way they were recorded. Which is great news for fans eager to see the band at Spectrum Now @ The Domain on March 5th.
Music Feeds: When it comes to playing Psychocandy 30 years after it was released, has it been difficult to keep it feeling as exciting and the music and raw as originally intended?
Jim Reid: It’s quite easy to keep it the way it was intended. Personally I’ve never been into going to see bands or musicians and they rework their back catalogue so it’s almost un-recognisable. When I go and see a band playing a song that I love, I want to hear it the way that I know it, and that’s our approach. I find you can’t go to far wrong with that. We’ve just tried to get Psychocandy across as best as we possibly can and as close to record as we can get it. That’s our approach and that’s always been our approach.
I mean, I love Lou Reed, but I once went to see Lou Reed and he played a version of All Tomorrow’s Parties. It was four minutes into the song before I realised what it was. I can’t be bothered with that. If you want to come hear Just Like Honey, you’ll hear it and you’ll know it as soon as that fucking drum beat starts. We’re not going to do any scat versions, there’s going to be no jazz/reggae fusion. There will be Mary Chain, and there will be Psychocandy and if that’s what you’re in to, you shouldn’t be disappointed.
MF: Do you think the current industry can create bands that have had the kind of impact The Jesus And Mary Chain has?
JR: I’m sure there are bands around now who will still be around in the future, and who will be touring their own classic albums 30 years after their release. But the music business is in a state of flux at the moment. I think there needs to be new structure to it so bands can exist.
This whole streaming business is worrying because nobody is investing in new bands. It seems like everybody expects music for free at the moment. If that’s the way it is, new bands aren’t going to be able to develop. I think there is just as much talent out there, it’s just not being given a chance I don’t think.
MF: Do you stream music online?
JR: I’m not into it, but not as a matter of principle. I think I have a free version of Spotify that I never really use. But I’ve got a large record collection, and I don’t really need those streaming services. I’d just rather go off and play the thousands of albums I’ve accumulated throughout a lifetime.
MF: Have you added anything to the collection recently?
JR: I’m not terribly up to date with new bands. I think that music is very cyclical. If you’re interested in music and you listen to music for a long time you tend to find that it kind of comes back to where you started if you know what I mean. Rather than listen to some new bunch of kids who sounds like Joy Division, I think I’d rather just listen to Joy Division. I mean no harm to the new crop, but I just stick to what I grew up with and that just suits me fine.
MF: Who does the band get on now after all these years? Do the relationships within the band require a lot of work?
JR: If I’m being totally honest, the only relationship that really matters is the one with me and William. There have been well document periods of our career that we weren’t able to communicate. The band broke up in 1997 or was it 98 (Ed note: it was 98, although not official til 99) I can never remember, and it was because we just forgot how to talk to each other, it just became that everything was an argument. And that’s what it got to in the 90s. But now we are a little bit older, a little bit wiser, not much but a little bit and enough to keep this thing going.
MF: Did you lose that in the 90s?
JR: Back in the 90s there was definitely the desire for it to keep going forwards, but we lost sight of how to make that happen. We still have massive screaming rows, and other people don’t know what to do or where to look when it’s going off. At one point in the 90s it was just no holds barred and we would just say whatever the fuck we felt like tot each other.
Some of those things were pretty horrible and once you’ve said them, they can’t be taken back. Once that’s out there, it’s out there, so you have be really careful. A lot of that had to do with drink and drugs didn’t help back then. So I’m kind of a bit more together on that front, I haven’t had a drink for a while now and that helps to keep me a bit more sane.
The Jesus and Mary Chain will be playing Psychocandy for the Popfrenzy and Yours & Owls Presents Divine Times event as part of Spectrum Now Festival @ The Domain on Saturday 5th along with Alvvays (CAN), U.S. Girls (USA), Jonathan Boulet and Seekae.
Running from Thursday 3rd – Sunday 13th March with the wider line-up including Calexico, Birds of Tokyo, Missy Higgins and Godspeed You! Black Emperor, tickets to all shows are on sale now at the Spectrum Now website.