The Jesus & Mary Chain
Munki (Sub Pop)
An interview with Jim Reid
by Chris Adams
Uh, hi… is that Lollipop?
Is Chris Adams in?….
Yeah… is this Jim?
Where ya callin’ from… New York?
No… I’m callin’ from London.
Shit… I hope the phone bill isn’t yours…
It is at the moment… but I’m gonna get the money back…
It’s been about three or four years since we last heard from the Mary Chain… in the interim, what have you guys been doing?
We’ve been getting kicked off of our record label, for a start…
Yeah… we fired our management as well, that’s another thing. A lot of upheaval’s been going on.
Why did Warners give you the boot?
I dunno… it seems as if a good record isn’t good enough for ’em.
(Incredulous) The new one? They didn’t like it?
We recorded about half of it, and they asked to hear what we were up to, and we went down there to play what we had… they just said “no – forget it.”
So ya hooked up with Creation. How’s it feel to be back there after… whatever… a dozen years or so?
It feels pretty good. I mean, it’s a completely different thing now, from what it was the last time around. But it’s still got a lot of enthusiasm, and its own identity.
Munki‘s probably the most stylistically eclectic album the Mary Chain have done. Was that a conscious effort?
Yeah… there were definitely ideas there that we had that we could sorta broaden a little bit in terms of drum machines and using loops and stuff… but it’s probably due mostly to the fact that it was recorded over a period of two years. So we’d start the album, go off to Europe for awhile, come back, get kicked off our label, panic for while, run around not knowing what to do, start recording again, stop because we’d got something else to do… I guess that’s the reason why Munki sounds like that…
Was the recording done at the drugstore?
Yeah… it always is, since Honey’s Dead.
Munki‘s a weird little title. How didja come up with that?
We kinda liked the idea of getting a title that didn’t sound like the Mary Chain, y’know? The way we got to do that was we got someone who wasn’t in the band to make the title up… it was my sister Linda, who also sings on “Mo Tucker.”
Did you call that song “Mo Tucker” because… y’know, female singer in an essentially “boy’s band”?
Yeah… it was actually my sister who called it that… she sang the song, and we didn’t know what to call it, and she said “why don’t you call it ‘Mo Tucker'” because that’s what she thought she sounded like.
In the press kit, you state you and Jim almost ended up murdering each other while you were making this record. Why’s that?
Ahhh, well… when you’re brothers in a band, it’s not an easy trick to pull off, ya know? I mean, there’s always kinda bad vibes in the studio whenever… but it’s us being brothers… we could kill each other over a cup of tea, ya know?
What didja think of his solo single (“Tired of Fucking”)?
I thought it was interesting… it was pretty stoned, ya know? Stoned music for stoned people.
Would you do a solo thing?
I wouldn’t do a solo record as such, but me and Ben, the guitarist in the band, we’re gonna do another thing together.
Oh yeah? What kinda stuff is it going to be?
Not sure yet… we’re writing songs at the moment, but it’s pretty early days… we’re looking for other musicians to work with.
It seems to me that the Mary Chain have always been on a sorta quest to write “the perfect pop song.” Personally, I think you came pretty close with “Some Candy Talking.” Do you think you’ve ever reached that sorta… pinnacle?
It’s not really for the Mary Chain to say… we make the music, and other people are gonna make of it what they will… it makes me feel good when people say “you’ve recorded a song that’s one of my favorite songs,” ya know? But it’s not really for us to say what our achievements are.
How do you rate Munki compared to your previous stuff?
It’s pretty good I think… to me, the most recent record is always the one that makes the most sense, I think… cos it’s exactly where your head is at. I think it’s as good, if not better, than anything we’ve ever done…
Do you have any contemporaries you admire?
I kinda like Beck, and I kinda like The Blues Explosion, and I quite like Cornershop.
So Nancy Sinatra approaches you to do a duet with her…what song do you do?
I dunno… I’d have to think about that one… I’d have to write one, actually…
Can you think of one song that someone else wrote that you wish you had?
Off the top of my head, it’s kinda difficult… I’ve always liked this Elvis song called “Clean Up Your Own Backyard.” Great record.
So ya got Lou Reed locked in a room and tied down to a barber chair. How do you cut his hair?
(laffs) Well, I’d certainly get rid of that big fuckin’ mullet… a fuckin’ ridiculous haircut.
How can someone that cool look that stupid?
That’s a good question, isn’t it?
I think it’s one of the most pertinent pop questions going… someone’s gotta do something.
Wouldja ever consider working with Phil Spector?
It depends… if he was gonna shoot us, probably not…
What are your “desert island discs”?
Probably this Monkees song “As We Go Along” – ya know that one? I’d definitely have that played at my funeral or something like that. “This Guy’s In Love With You” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Everything by the Velvet Underground. Everything by Iggy and the Stooges. Everything by Suicide. And probably a “Best of Burt Bacharach.” A “Best of Dylan” probably. And a “Best of The Birthday Party.”
What do ya think of Nick Cave’s more recent stuff?
I love it… I think Nick Cave’s still one of the greats.
You once mentioned you’d like to be in the position that Nick Cave’s in, where the record company just puts your records out, exactly the way you want ’em, and people can just take ’em or leave ’em. Do you feel that’s gonna happen?
In the past, when we made our records, people just left us to do it, taking it down to the record company was like trynna shit a brick. It was so fuckin’ difficult… you shouldn’t have to persuade your record label to release your record. Now that we’re on SubPop in America and Creation in Britain, it seems a lot easier to do.
It’s the end of the world and you can kill one person – who would it be? Apart from William, I mean…
I’m telling ya, there’s a list as long as my fuckin’ arm. Ahhhh… who would I kill? Who would I kill? There’re just too many people to mention. I think I’d probably go for Everett True down at the Melody Maker.
Oh God… he’s such a fucking prick.
Yeah… his real name’s Jerry Thackery. I think I should let people know because “Everett True” sounds kinda windswept and interesting, but Jerry Thackery just sounds like a little twerp.
What’s going on with the Mary Chain for the rest of the year?
We’re gonna do some European festivals. We’re looking into coming to the US ’round about August, or sumthin’ like that. Maybe a bit later, depending on how long it takes to get a tour together.
What’s your response to the criticism that the Mary Chain are just a “pop gun revolution” with no real threat, just sorta dropping references to other pop songs that were actually threatening?
What can I say? I disagree entirely. The Mary Chain, especially as we get older… the subjects I describe in a song are basically the people in the band and the sort of life that we lead. There’s nothing phony about the Mary Chain. I tell you… it’s all from the heart.
Is there anything more important than rock and roll?
Not to me. To be honest with ya… it’s kinda hard to talk about it without sounding like a corny old cunt… but it’s the reason I’m living, ya know what I mean? It’s who I am.
So, despite it all, you love rock and roll.
I love rock and roll.
(1932 1st Ave. #1103 Seattle, WA 98101)