What joy it is to report that our favourite noise/melody-mongering veterans the
Jesus & Mary Chain are back, back, back with a new single, Amputation, and
album, Damage and Joy, which has been produced by our favourite visor-sporting
hippy goth bassist Youth.
Of course, technically the Mary Chain have been back since reforming in 2007 to
headline the Coachella Festival in California. But now they are additionally
back in the record business with their first album since 1998’s Munki, which has
been teased and anticipated since fractious frères Jim and William Reid first
got the band back together.
Since then, they have toured their classic debut Psychocandy, complete with
feedback, as well as revisiting other corners of their stellar back catalogue.
But it is fitting that on the day they return to their original Glasgow stomping
ground to play the opening night of the BBC 6Music festival, they also unleash
their first new music in almost twenty years.
Ahead of that homecoming bonanza, frontman Jim Reid explained to us what took
them so long:
It was probably because of me. I was the one reluctant to get into the studio in
the first place so I dragged my heels a bit. But the time was passing and more
and more people kept saying ‘when’s this album coming out?’ and it started to
feel a bit silly.
The record we’d done before was Munki and it just about killed me. It was a very
painful record to make and that was my last memory of making an album and I
wasn’t really in any rush to get back into that situation.
Let’s just do the bloody thing!
The other thing was at that particular time when we’d reformed in 2007 my
daughter Candice had just been born and I didn’t really want to disappear for a
year recording and touring but then it just kept dragging on and it got to a
point where I thought ‘let’s just do the bloody thing’.
We were prepared for World War 3 really. We went into the studio wearing flak
jackets. That’s partly the reason we got a producer for the first time because
we thought if the shit hits the fan Youth can be the judge, the one who sits in
the middle and tells us we’re being silly. He’s so laidback and chilled out,
he’s just a big cuddly hippy. We thought he would be the peacekeeper, the United
Nations in this situation. As it turns out, we got on alright. There was no big
bust-ups, there was one or two arguments but there was bound to be. It was
pretty civilized all in all, for the Mary Chain anyway.
Unmistakeably a Mary Chain record
The only thing that I wanted to do was to make it unmistakeably a Mary Chain
record, I wanted it to be that within about five seconds you would know it was a
Mary Chain record. If it sounds laboured and hard to piece together, that can’t
be a good thing.
Amputation was written a few years ago, and it sounds like it’s singing about a
relationship, but the relationship is really the band and the music business. It
felt at that time as if we were living in exile, as if we were surplus to
requirements, Nobody seemed interested in anything we had to say and that’s what
it felt like, that we were rock’n’roll amputations. It never felt like we were
welcome at the party. We’ve never really found a place that we fit I think.
Probably every band says that, but that’s the way I feel, the eternal outsiders.
We wanted to be embraced
I suppose when we were younger, that pissed us off because we wanted to be
embraced and accepted, strangely enough – it didn’t look like we were trying to
be, but we actually were. We wanted people to say ‘ahh, the good old Mary Chain’
and it used to piss us off. But after a while you relax about it. You think ‘x
amount of years have passed and we’re still doing this, we must be doing
something right, it’s all good’.
We go at our own pace now, there’s nobody standing behind you cracking a whip.
The music business the way it was back then, it was very hard to stop for a
minute or two and just take stock and decide whether you were going in the right
direction, do you really want to be doing this. You don’t get a minute because
everybody is always telling you you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that. It
was quite mental back then. Now we play gigs whenever we feel like it. It’s much
more relaxed now.
It was like a boil that needed lanced
I had always assumed we would make another record but I really didn’t imagine
that it would take this long so it’s great to finally be at the stage where it’s
about to come out, it’s fabulous. It was like a boil that needed lanced and now
that it’s been done I feel a huge release.
There’s another album we could record next week if we wanted to, and we might
record another album quite soon. If we put this record out and people seem to be
into it then I don’t see any reason why we can’t make other records, especially
since we’ve done this and it wasn’t anywhere near as scary as we thought it
Damage and Joy is released by ADA/Warner Music on 24 March. The Jesus & Mary
Chain play Barrowland, Glasgow on the same night as part of the 6Music festival