Originally forming in 1983, in East Kilbride, Scotland, The Jesus and Mary Chain came together around the creative partnership of brothers, Jim and William Reid. As the post-punk movement of the late '70s and early '80s became less prevalent, and many bands started to pursue more electronic styles, The Jesus and Mary Chain found their niche in experimental guitar music. With their signature techniques of detuned guitars, layered distortion effects, and minimal drums, they provided the template for many indie and alternative rock bands over the following decades.
The band moved to London where they were signed by Alan McGee's Creation Records and joined by new drummer Bobby Gillespie, who had already formed his band, Primal Scream, but had been impressed by the brothers' approach. Their debut album 'Psychocandy' followed in 1985, now regarded as a touchstone record of the late 20th Century, and it was followed by 'Darklands' in 1987 and 'Automatic' in 1989. By this point, The NME had described them as "The best band in the world" while The Sun lazily labelled them "The new Sex Pistols".
As the indie scene became an important UK movement around the turn of the 1990s, and with America enjoying its own alternative renaissance in Seattle, New York and Chicago, the path cut by The Jesus and Mary Chain was evident. Along with a few other significant bands such as My Bloody Valentine, they had bridged the gap between their influences – artists and producers as diverse as Phil Spector, The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, The Stooges, Siouxsie and the Banshees – and the new resurgence in guitar music.
The band had set the broad scene that artists such as Slowdive, Broadcast, Ride, Nirvana, Curve, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, Lush and Spiritualized could now inhabit, often citing JAMC as inspiration. The list of artists that followed and benefitted is virtually endless. Brit-pop's mainstream-indie dominance of the mid-90s, and similarly, grunge in the US, are perhaps the most widely acknowledged outcomes of what they helped set in motion.
The 1990s saw various line-up alterations, but the band continued to release albums, 'Honey's Dead' (1992), 'Stoned and Dethroned' (1994) and their last 'Munki' (1998), before the band finally split up in 1999.
The legacy of The Jesus and Mary Chain could still be felt in the following years. One notable example of their presence was Psychocandy's opening track 'Just Like Honey' which reached a new audience following its inclusion in the hit 2003 film 'Lost In Translation', rekindling public interest in the band. 2007 saw the band reform and perform at Coachella (with Lost In Translation actress, Scarlett Johansson joining the band on stage for 'Just Like Honey').
A 30th-anniversary tour followed in 2015, with the band playing 'Psychocandy' in full, along with rumours of a new album, bringing us up to date with 'Damage and Joy,' due to be released on 24th March 2017. Their first full-length studio LP in almost twenty years.
Jim Reid states: “We started to – can you believe? – listen to each other a bit more. In the last couple of years, we’ve buried the hatchet to some degree, and thankfully not into each other. Most people who know us would say that we haven’t mellowed that much. I think it was to do with the fact, dare I say it, that wisdom comes with age. Let’s live and let live, and let’s take each other’s opinions into account.”
Jim Reid also went on to say: “The interesting thing about this record is what comes out of the speakers. To make a good record is an achievement if you’re twenty-two, but to do it in your fifties, the way we are, I think is a minor miracle.”
The album reportedly features guest vocals from Isobel Campbell (Belle & Sebastian), Sky Ferreira and the Reid brothers' younger sister Linda Reid. The album was produced by Youth (AKA Martin Glover), the former bassist of Killing Joke who has also produced for the likes of The Charlatans, The Orb, Beth Orton and Hollie Cook among many others.
'Damage and Joy' Tracklisting:
2. War On Peace
3. All Things Pass
4. Always Sad
5. Song For A Secret
6. The Two Of Us
7. Los Feliz (Blues and Greens)
8. Mood Rider
9. Presidici (Et Chapaquiditch)
10. Get On Home
11. Facing Up To The Facts
12. Simian Split
13. Black And Blues
14. Can’t Stop The Rock
The Jesus and Mary Chain 2017 Tour Dates:
23 – Newcastle, Northumbria University
25 – Manchester, Academy
27 – Leeds, Church
28 – Leicester, O2 Academy
29 – Bristol, O2 Academy
31 – Birmingham, O2 Institute
1 – Bournemouth, O2 Academy
2 – Oxford, O2 Academy
3 – Cambridge, Junction
5 – London, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
6 – Bexhill-on-Sea, De La Warr Pavilion
7 – Dublin, Academy
8 – Belfast, Limelight 1
2 – Scotland, Electric Fields
29 – Cornwall, Looe Music Festival