Reverend and the Makers
Looking out the window, a rain soaked John Street scowls unwelcomingly back. Yet within the cosy confines of Reverend and The Makers’ swish practice studio, the clinking of beer bottles can be heard intermittently amongst the sounds of animated conversation and laughter – most of which emanates from lead singer Jon McClure.
Pouring Exposed a cocktail of Nigerian Guinness and Red Bull (surprisingly nice!) he explains the room’s handsome interior: “It used to be a showroom for an old cutlery works. Our old place wasn’t much to look at, so it’s nice to move somewhere a bit… fancy”.
The studio holds a history of showcasing Sheffield talent, which is set to continue this evening – as The Rev and his Makers (Joe Carnall, Laura McClure, Ryan Jenkinson, Ed Cosens) perform live in session for Exposed.
What tracks will you be performing for this months ‘Exposed: In Session’?
Jon McClure: Roll With It and Wonderwall.
Play the game, Jon…
Jon: Ok. We’ll be playing our new single ‘The Only One’ and a track from last year – ‘Shine The Light’.
Laura: Last year’s FA cup anthem.
It’s the World Cup this year. Could we see a Reverend & The Makers World Cup song?
Jon: *Pauses* Errrm…
Ryan: It would be impossible to top New Order.
Jon: There’s one from years ago, when I was about 17. It could be worth a revival. I’ll have a think.
The new album ‘Thirty-Two’ has just hit the shelves. Your previous album had a strong electronic influence, does that continue with this one?
Jon: Yeah, maybe slightly less than last time. I got a reight good buzz off the last album – and if you find a good groove it makes sense to keep It going. You know what I mean?
It’s particularly good to see a big Sheffield Band revisit more electronic sounds, since Sheffield music has revolved around indie-style guitar bands for a while now. I guess some of your younger fan base may not be as aware of Sheffield’s heritage with bands such as Cabaret Voltaire, Human League, Heaven 17 etc…
Jon: It gets on me tits that people don’t hear about that more. There’s been two main music trends in Sheffield – the one that you’ve just mentioned and the one with the Monkeys, Cocker, Hawley, Joe, myself etc. – who do the ‘lyrical thing’. I guess what I’ve tried to do is blend a bit of both. But nowadays, when people hear dance music and a northern accent, they immediately think of Happy Mondays or Manchester because Manchester’s done well with that scene. But people forget that it started in Sheffield.
Let’s talk house gigs for a bit. What number are we up to now?
Jon: 24. I played one in Cleckheaton, right, and they had a big room upstairs called the ‘Milburn Bar’. They were playing solid Milburn. Class.
Joe: I was going to come along that one, actually, but I couldn’t make it in the end. However, I’m not sure I would’ve known what to say when I got there!
It sounds a bit like that Alan Partridge episode, where he meets his number one fan…
Joe: *Laughs* It could have turned a bit like that, yeah. Tied up in the loft, like. But I’ve met them before and they’re nice and normal. It’s a big compliment, really.
Jon: I don’t think we realise in Sheffield, the impact that earlier music had on people. We sort of underestimate it.
I guess that’s a bit of a Sheffield trait, though, that blind modesty….
Joe: Yeah, we can be quite self-deprecating and humble. Almost too humble, I’d argue. If you look at Manchester and Liverpool they really shout about their scenes. Even if it isn’t that good.
Jon: It’s daft to be too humble. And I think it’s held Sheffield back. I love Sheff and we should shout about it. All this being humble is alreight and that, but it doesn’t get you anywhere in the long run. You have to be a bit of a f**ker and shout it from the rooftops. If we did that more often, we’d get a bit more of a national vibe.
Here’s one for you. If you each could have any person around to your gaff for a house party, who would it be?
Jon: Brilliant question.
*Room falls silent as the group ponder their choices*
Laura: Lauryn Hill. Or if you’re looking for someone who would be a great laugh and a similar vibe to Jon, then I’d choose Supergrass – they’re such nice guys.
Joe: Yeah, because I suppose you wouldn’t want to be uncomfortable in your own house, would you? Who’d make you a nice brew?
Jon: I’d be having Bobby Marley round, but he’s dead, in’t he?
Joe: Prince recently played a few songs in Lianne La Havas’ living room, for a press thing. But I’d be uncomfortable with Prince going to the toilet after me – ‘I’d give that a few minutes, Prince.’
Jon: I’ll tell you who I’m having, the rapper Skinnyman. He can come around with some blank CD’s and start spitting whilst I just get reight boxed on the sofa. What about you?
I’d fancy Weller to pop round. A few tinnies and a sing-song…
Joe: Yeah, I’d like someone who’d get an acoustic guitar out, or a piano, and we’d stay up ’til like eight in the morning, getting drunk and singing songs. Weller’s haircut would intimidate me though.
Ryan: There’s loads of heroes and proper famous people you could go for – but for me it’s Jamie T, you could have a reight party with him, I reckon.
Joe: *To Jon* I think if you weren’t mates, Noel would be amazing, wouldn’t he? But I reckon he might go to bed early nowadays.
A pub conversation yesterday descended in to ‘if football teams were bands…’
Jon: I LOVE IT. Reight game. Carry on…
A few local examples first to kick us off. Sheffield United /Kaiser Chiefs…
…high point in the mid-2000’s, slipped post-Neil Warnock/Ruby, a downwards slide since, finally hitting rock bottom in the League 1 relegation zone/The Voice.
*Strong resonances of agreement*
Jon: Love that! Gi’ us another!
Sheffield Wednesday /Pulp: Both proud of their Sheffield heritage. Both hit their peak early 90’s, but it all went a bit pear shaped towards the end of the decade. The creativity/influence of Jarvis Cocker can be compared to that of Chris Waddle for Wednesday.
Jon: I’m happy with that one, an’all!
Joe: *Misty eyed* I love the synergy of Cocker/Waddle…
So, cutting to the chase, what team are Reverend & The Makers?
Joe: Well, you were in the Premier League… *Prolonged silence, Jon looks at Joe.*
Laura: Go on, finish that sentence Joe!
Joe: I mean, you were top 20, with the first album…
Jon: Heavyweight was top 10, pal. We were pushing for Europe. *Laughs*
Joe: Alright. But then you dipped in a charts sense, down a league. So… are you back in the Premiership now?
Jon: Not yet – but we’re looking good for a push. I’ll tell you who we are – we’re Nottingham Forest! Reight, we’ve got a proud history, core fanbase, maybe not what we used to be, but we’ve got a bit of drive behind us now and a couple of new signings.
Ryan: We’ve not got Kuwaiti money backing us though!
Jon: Sod the interview! Can we do this for the rest of the night? Who else we got?
How about Chelsea /Coldplay? Equally loved and hated. No denying certain accolades such as their first album/Yellow and winning the Champs League in 2012.
Jon: I’m having Man City as Arctic Monkeys. Never done ‘owt before, then straight in to the top flight – like BAM! Smashed it. Also, I know Liam & Noel will hate this, but, Oasis are Manchester United – big in the nineties, great history, not looking good now but they’re still massive worldwide. Who are Kasabian?
Kasabian are Tottenham – consistently good, but never been able to break in to that top four, yet always easy on the eye/ear…
Jon: Yep. They flirted with the top four after releasing ‘Fire’ but haven’t cemented themselves yet. Great band, love ’em.
OK, we can come back this later. But for now I’m going to throw a few contemporary issues at you to get the Reverend & The Makers verdict. That ok?
Jon: Go for it.
The Henderson’s Relish Scandal?
Jon: Disgusting. What an absolute tosser.
Ryan: However, it did show how proud Sheffield people are, everyone stood up and had a go when it happened.
Laura: My Twitter was covered with outrage!
Jon: You don’t f**k with the sauce.
Twitter trolls? (After Stan Collymore’s recent comments regarding Twitter’s lack of action against ‘trolling’).
Jon: My thing is this: If you’re honest about who you are, where you live, and you’re just being yourself and having a pop, I don’t mind it. It’s the anonymity that I object to. It’s cowardly. If I call someone a prick on Twitter, they know exactly who’s said it. I’ll give (Nick) Grimshaw and Calvin (Harris) some grief on Twitter, but I’m speaking my mind and holding my hands up to it. It’s the secrecy that winds me up.
Paxman – beard or no beard?
Joe: I like it, I like it a lot. Paxman himself is a bit salt and pepper though.
Jon: But you’re a beardy person, Joe. I’m not so sure. Paxman is a great historian but he’s a Tory. That’s my problem with Paxman. What’s the woman’s perspective, Laura?
Laura: I don’t really care to be honest. He’s got a really long face and the beard hides a bit of it.
I think we’ll leave it around there…
Jon: By the way, if I’ve slagged anyone off in this interview, could you put a note saying I didn’t really mean it? *Laughs*
Head to www.reverendmakers.com for tour and signings info. You can also buy the new album ‘Thirty Two’, out now!