Dan Whiteley catches up with the soon-to-be “coolest motherfucker in Britian”.
Reverend & The Makers have, in the past decade or so, become something of an indie pop institution. Originally emerging out of the same Sheffield scene that brought the world Little Man Tate, The Long Blondes and, of course, the Arctic Monkeys, the band have since released a string of chart-bothering albums – including their top ten debut The State of Things – and amassed a loyal cult following, thanks in part to the outspoken antics and larger-than-life demeanour of their founder and frontman Jon “The Reverend” McClure. Their new record, titled Thirty Two –The Rev’s age, not-so-coincidentally – arrives on the 24th of February, with a UK tour to follow; after catching up with the man himself, it’s clear that experience and maturity haven’t lowered his or the band’s ambitions.
“There’s nothing to prove,” says McClure, in trademark no-nonsense fashion, of the band’s new album, “We’ve had three top twenty albums – largely without the mainstream – and so there’s nothing to prove to them. It’s a happy acceptance. Yeah, I’m 32, and happy to be 32. It’s almost like our debut, in so much as it’s us saying “this is where we’re at and who we are – and what?” We had a lot of fun making it as well.”
Listening to ‘Your Girl’, the first song unveiled from Thirty Two, it’s no surprise to hear the band enjoyed themselves creating this record; its siren wail synths and shout-along chorus make it one of the most party-ready tunes the they’ve written to date. Having been compared to Madchester acts such as the Happy Mondays in the past, I ask if their influenced had any bearing on the new track’s sound: “Ah you Mancs, I love ya, always tryin’ to claim everything as your own!” This time at least, though, it isn’t the case, “it owes a bigger debt to the Prodigy then to any of the Manc bands I think.” The track also involves none of the political sloganeering of the band’s early songs, with McClure admitting “the politics has been out since the second album. I still feel the same way, but if you restate the same politics time and again in song, it becomes boring very quickly.”
Whilst their February/March tour will see Reverend & The Makers play some of the country’s best loved venues, including Manchester’s own Ritz, their latest promotional efforts have seen the band play some much more intimate shows, many of which taking place in fan’s own homes. “It’s about communication of the spirit of the music. I write songs about real life, and it’s my way of standing with the fans and saying “I’m one of you”, that it’s people’s music. I think – and I hope – that people see the disconnect between the bullshit in the mainstream and what people actually want. The response has been amazing… I sort of nicked the idea from my pal Carl Barat; him and Peter [Doherty, Libertines frontman] used to do similar things, didn’t they? The main thing, though, is it’s such a laugh. Like, you make an album, then tour it, then go to festivals and it becomes formulaic. This is my way of getting back to the soul of the music. It’s been class -I’ve had a wedding proposal, a dog named after me, a car crash, a riot van turn up all in one week so far!”
This close connection with their fanbase doesn’t just extend to their shows, as the band have always maintained a heavy social media presence; they even christened their last record @Reverend_Makers after their busy twitter handle. As The Rev is keen to explain, “You have two distinct choices as a musician. A: make cheesy fuckin’ music to fit in with Little Mix and One Direction and get on the radio, or B: make music on your own terms and rely on social media and word of mouth to do the rest… I know where I’m at.”
The band will be celebrating their ten year anniversary next year; I ask McClure if and how the musical climate, and industry as a whole, has changed since he first started out: “Yeah it has – indie got so out of fashion amongst the London “trend-setters” as to make us perhaps the most uncool band in the country. But these people are on a revolving door; the music is permanent. So I guess you batton down the hatches and wear the same sweater for ten years. Eventually, you come back in fashion,” he says, “next year, I’ll be the coolest motherfucker in Britian.”