by Rachael Morris
Sheffield based band Reverend and the Makers, best known for their top ten hit ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’ from their breakthrough album ‘The State of Things’, released their new and fifth album ‘Mirrors’ earlier this month. An album which Noel Gallagher described as, “something that sounds like nothing I’ve heard since the great concept albums of the ’60s” and the Libertine’s Carl Barât called “a magnum opus”.
To coincide with the release of the new album, Jon McClure also releases a book of his lyrics and poetry, illustrated by Horace Panter from the Specials, which includes every lyric from Reverend and the Makers as well as McClure’s collaboration with John Cooper Clark.
Charismatic frontman Jon McClure, nicknamed ‘the Reverend’, has become well known for his connection with his fans: personally remaining active on Twitter; often busking in car parks after the band’s live shows; and swapping the stage for fervent fans’ front rooms in the series of house gigs he has performed alongside the two most recent album tours. And the self-titled ‘RevArmy’ appear to enjoy the sermon.
When I saw Reverend and the Makers perform in a tiny venue in Fife last year I can say, without hesitation, that they put on the best knees-up singalong moshing mad-packed gig I have ever seen. Dancing in platform heels for two straight hours, inevitably, saw me collapse on the kitchen floor when I finally got home; but, and trust me I do not say this lightly, they were worth every single agonising blister.
I caught up with the Reverend ahead of the upcoming tour so he could tell me a bit more about the state of things:
In the run up to this tour you’ve been doing some more house gigs. What is the attraction to these kinds of gigs?
Well a lot of venues look the same, smell the same, charge you £5 for a pint of the same pish you get everywhere. So the house gigs are random and bring a bit of danger to proceedings: people swinging off light fixtures and the floorboards bowing under the weight of all the people in the room. The people never believe I’ll actually turn up half the time. It brings a bit of the real spirit back I guess. Music is so safe these days. It’s nice to keep things a bit left field isn’t it?
You’re also very active on Twitter and often busk outside venues after gigs. Do you think it is important to break some of the barriers between audience and band and, if so, why?
Yes because it’s nonsense isn’t it. Cheryl Cole charges fans £300 a head to meet her for three seconds. What a load of bollocks. It’s about showing people that the music is real. You can’t sing about themes connected to reality if you never engage with it. I love being around real people and the fans. I have no time for celebrity. As a concept it’s redundant isn’t it? Especially these days when people get famous for nothing at all.
You’ve said in previous interviews you think word of mouth is helpful in building fan base. Why do you think people are starting to listen to each other’s opinions more and advice from music critics and radio presenters less?
Because traditional media is dying. Why would you trust half the radio DJs when they are playing one direction one minute and then trying to act as though they are the heir to John Peel the next? Who would you trust more – your mate down the road with an ace record collection or Nick Grimshaw?
What are you enjoying listening to at the moment?
Seafood Mods, Slaves, Damon Albarn, Richard Hawley, The Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus collaboration and Kwaito
What can fans expect from the upcoming tour?
Something different that we haven’t attempted before.
And finally, what can we look forward to from the new album, Mirrors?
Well I don’t feel the need as with previous records to endlessly big it up. It’s totally different to anything we’ve done before. There’s a film shot on location in Jamaica to go with it. All I ask is people listen to it and make up their own minds. You will see!
Reverend and the Makers perform at King Tut’s on Sunday 22nd November.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’).appendChild(s);