The Jesus and Mary Chain Think the World Is Suffering From an Attitude Drought
"A lot of things got out of control at our shows... It's about the album now."
Photo by Mike Laye
When the noise-rock pioneers of the Jesus and Mary Chain toured their debut album, Psychocandy, in 1985, things got a little wild. Fans stormed the stage, small-scale riots broke out, and venues across the nation quickly became afraid of the Scots.
"A lot of things got out of control on many levels — whether it be drinks, drugs, violence — at our shows," says the band's frontman, Jim Reid. "Just general chaos, and we kind of thought, Well, do we really want to go back and revisit that?' The answer is no, we didn't. And it was only when we realized that everybody has forgotten about all of that stuff and it's about the album now, whereas actually at the time, it was never about the album in 1985."
In celebration of the landmark LP's 30th anniversary, the postpunk darlings are traveling the world playing the album in its entirety, giving life to many of the tracks in a live setting for the first time.
"There will be people who will criticize us for doing it," he says, "but to those people, and to all the other people throughout the decades who criticized us, fuck you. That's what we say."
Psychocandy stood the test of time and remained relevant throughout the years for its mix of dreamy melodies and harsh textures. The Jesus and Mary Chain cut through the feel-good effervescence of its time, purposely incorporating would-be accidental elements, from feedback to white noise, into otherwise beautifully melancholic compositions.
"We were reacting against what we thought was a very saccharine and sugary popular culture in the mid-1980s," he says. "We grew up listening to Iggy and the Stooges, punk rock music, the Velvet Underground. Those bands just seemed to take no prisoners. It was no compromise, and by '85, that attitude seemed to be all but lost, and we just wanted to resurrect it a little bit. Our role models seemed to be either dead or had given up the ghost, and we just wanted to jump-start rock 'n' roll one more time."
The band ushered in a new generation of alternative sounds, directly influencing groups such as Sonic Youth, Nine Inch Nails, and the Smashing Pumpkins. Psychocandy remains a must-discover for today's misanthropic youths, and according to Reid, they may need it now more than ever.
"It's actually worse now," Reid says. "You get all these reality-TV shows that find the next boy band or girl band or whatever piece of crap is floating about out there. I just can't believe that kind of stuff works, really. It just seems there is no, or very little, attitude out there."
But Reid understands it's no longer on him to save the day.
"We are in our 50s now," he says. "It's not up to me anymore to go out there and shake things up. That's for the younger generation to do. What we do is, we go out there, and as much as we can, we enjoy it. It may not look like we're enjoying it, but we are."
For now, Reid and the band are happy to simply play the music they love for a crowd that's honestly interested in hearing it.
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"I feel very grateful to be able to be doing this 30 years after this record came out," he says. "It's an amazing thing to me to be able to travel this world and hear this album, that there are people out there who want to hear it. I couldn't have imagined that 30 years ago. It is fantastic to be able to do that. We don't take it for granted."
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