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Reverend And The Makers interview: we'll clobber you with bangers

We spoke to iconic frontman Jon McClure about Twitter spats, following up on their best album to date and the relevance of the BRIT awards.

Henry Lewis

Last updated: 8th May 2017

Image: Reverend and the Makers

There's few lead singers as vocal and passionate about their music as Jon McClure of Reverend and the Makers. Where the British music press lack in giving the Sheffield band a shout, their talismanic frontman more than makes up for it. Bursting with an unabashed Yorkshire pride, McClure represents what very few do any more. 

His working class roots have never been something he has kept quiet, and has targeted the likes of Matt Healy of The 1975 for having a seemingly easy route to the top, while his own outfit have grafted hard throughout their now ten-year old career. 

Their last record, Mirrors, came out in October 2015 and represented arguably the band's finest studio effort to date. A seamless meander through a rock 'n' roll landscape that visited elements of the BeatlesKinks and more dovetailed with magical songwriting and the Rev's instantly distinctive vocals.

With a summer of festivals, on the horizon we spoke to Jon to get the full picture on what comes next for the band.

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Hi there Jon, how's it going?

I'm not too bad at all mate, just gimme a sec. 

I've just bought a bike and I've cycled a load of miles and now I'm having a well-deserved cigarette because you can't be too healthy can you?

What's inspired the bike then?

Just a few of me mates have got into it, I wanted to try it mate - it's good. Sheffield is the capital of outdoor vibes you know with all the hills and climbing and biking and that, everyone loves it round here so I thought I'd join the masses. 

Must be hard work around Sheffield though?

Yeah it's good for the booty muscles, that's why we've all got arses like Jennifer Lopez.

What's going on musically, what have you been up to?

Just finished the new album. We've been in Thailand doing it, which were great and that's coming out later in the year. We're doing all the festivals, got a podcast that I've been working on, I've written a book as well which is part of the podcast thing so yeah it's all happening mate.

Any reason in particular that you chose Thailand?

It's just a great place, just gets you in a bit of a mood, gives you a bit of a vibe, and a bit of an atmosphere. We all went out there, unfortunately Laura my wife couldn't go because she's pregnant and they've got the Zika virus in Thailand so everyone else took their wives and kids but I had to go on my own. Well I went with our Chris, my brother but it was good mate, got a motorbike - it were absolutely beautiful, I loved it. I'm looking forward to people hearing it, I'm very proud of it.

Is it a continuation from the last one stylistically?

Yeah I'd say so, maybe more of an oriental vibe owing that to the fact we recorded this one in Thailand and the last one we recorded in Jamaica. More of Thailand got into this record than Jamaica did the others. 

So can we expect added instrumentation?

Yeah it's wild mate, it's all over the place. Songs, still songs man. Me and Ed (Cosens, RATM guitarist) do the business with the songwriting and obviously we've got a great band with Joe Carnall on bass, Laura's done her bits over here, Ryan's drumming is amazing so yeah it's a bit of a continuation on a theme.

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I saw your tweets about Laura the other day, is she ok? (Rev had complained that his pregnant wife had to sit on the floor of a train as there was no room)

Do you know what I mean, how can a six and a half/ seven month pregnant lass be forced to sit on the floor on a train in this day in age? You can slag off people like Jeremy Corbyn but this would never have happened if railways were nationalised would it? I just think it's symptomatic of the way this country is going. It's just greedy. What's more if you were sat on a train and there was a pregnant lass sat on the floor, wouldn't you give your seat up? Course you would. I just can't understand mate, it upset me to be honest.

Are you a Dad already or will this be your first child?

We've got a little boy already, he's two and he's amazing, perfect. Kind of puts things into perspective, I love being in a band, it's how I earn my living and stuff but it puts it into context when you've got a kid mate.

Our guitarist and his wife had their lad at about the same time so it's been wonderful really. Obviously I think your music adapts over time cos of that, do you know what I mean? You can't make banging dance tunes like you're in the club when that's clearly not where you are in life. I'm just enjoying life's journey mate.

Your debut album The State Of Things turns ten this year, I was going to ask whether you had plans to tour it as some other bands do, but it doesn't sound like that's your plan?

Yeah I think look forwards mate. We have enough fans to keep us doing the business and we like what we do, and the albums do what they do in the charts so let's carry on. 

But what a time to be a Sheffield band though, back in 2007 there was you guys, Arctic Monkeys, Milburn...

It were amazing but I wouldn't necessarily say the bands were any better. There's loads of good bands about now, it's just for whatever reason, the powers that be in the music industry aren't of a mind to give local bands a chance, and that's not just Sheffield, that's nationally. That's a real shame because there's some really talented people in this city so I think we've been very fortunate and I always try and help bands who are on the way up and show them a bit of love if I can.

Who's caught your eye in Sheffield?

There's a band called Liberty Ship who are really good, Bang Bang Romeo, there's loads of stuff. I heard a band called Bear Chest the other day. 

What's your involvement with this podcast then, and the book as well?

The book's about my travels all around the world, cos I've been all over the place. So I wrote it detailing some of the escapades I've been up to on my travels and a podcast that entails me, my brother and my mates largely just taking the piss., it's really funny. 

It'll be out soon, it's got visuals so we're just adding them to it and finishing it off. 

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Are you into your podcasts, I'd recommend Athletico Mince with Bob Mortimer and Andy Dawson if you've never heard of it...

There's one I like called My Dad Wrote A Porno which is about this geezer who wrote like a fiction porn book in the '70s, proper filth. So this guy just reads it out to his mates, yeah it's great. I think you've gotta move with the times, you've got to engage with the modern world, obviously podcasts are part of that. 

One of the main thing I wanted to get across in the book, and the podcast too, is that there's a lot of bullshit going about that's pretty xenophobic and what I wanted to get across. I've been all over the world man, people are pretty much the same the world over, there's a lot of differences but there's a lot of things similar and I just wanted to get that across to people really. I think we've done it in an entertaining, informative and funny way and hopefully people will enjoy listening to it.

What goes through your head when you see legions of 1975 fans giving you grief on twitter?

Just makes me laugh mate to be honest. If in 2017 that's the best we can do, if they're the best band in this country then we are fucking doomed mate. Other than that, he acts like he's Kurt Cobain or that he's Richie Edwards from the Manics and in reality his fanbase are the same as One Direction. I'd rather have One Direction cos at least they're not pretending to be something they're not so in that regard it does my head in.

Plus they're evidently really sensitive to it so I find it funny. It's symptomatic of rich kids who decide they don't want a pony anymore, they want to be a rockstar so their Mum and Dad fix it for them. It just screams privileged doesn't it, there's so many talented artists whose Mums weren't in Corrie or whatever, it's just bullshit man. There's not a lot of people who speak on behalf of the people, it's like the Guardian viewpoint isn't it. I read the Guardian but it's not nessecarily the view point of the common man or woman.

It's nice to just be able to say something that might make people laugh, I dunno I just think Twitter is funny. If people are going to troll me then they're going to get it back, if they're gonnna chat shit. 

The other thing is mate, I think it entertains people on a very simplistic level. I have a laugh doing it and it entertains people and people are like "you're upset, you've lost your mind". I'm not upset, I'm laughing. In my real life, I'm not "The Reverend", I'm at home with my little boy and my missus, I'm not being the Reverend all the time, I don't take this shit seriously it's all just a sport to me.

Did you watch the BRITS?

Did I fuck. Bag of shit. I think with the internet and stuff you can exist in a time and space irrelevant to the mainstream and still do alright. If somebody had offered me this 12 years ago when I started out I'd have snatched their hand off. Yeah I'm never going to be U2, I'm never gonna be Coldplay, I'm never gonna be Arctic Monkeys but do I wanna be?

Am I happy? Would I swap my life with 99.9% of other people's? No I wouldn't. It's all good mate, everything is nice. The BRITs have nothing to do with what I do, nothing at all. They're completely irrelevant, they might as well be like cricket awards, it means nothing to me.

It's a wider point than music mate, there's culture, there's politics and then there's reality. The two are becoming further apart mate. How many politicians are doing what the common man or woman want? I think that's born out of your music, you've got all these fucking pop stars with no fucking connection with reality. It's not Public Enemy, it's not the Beatles, it's fucking nonsense. Matt Healy says you've got to use your platform to say something, what have you said Matt Healy? "Stay in the EU". Rad, fucking rad mate. He doesn't fucking say owt. 

He tweeted to me saying 'you make music for Carling adverts" then deleted it cos Carling asked him too, cos he'd upset the sponsors. Don't act like you're Che Guevara Matt Healy cos I don't want to hear it. 

(If you've got a lighter you can have a fag. (inaudible conversation) ah right, well you can have two.)

Just doing straight up street hustles. 

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How important are festivals to you as a band?

We're playing loads of festivals mate, people are like "you'll say yeah to any festival" but at the end of the day we earn fucking loads of money doing it and we always come away with a load of people who've never heard of us loving us. So why wouldn't you do it? 

This is the honest truth, I'm not going to pretend to be cool. See we're not on the radio all the time, and magazines all the time so naturally every year you get about 50 people who loved you who might just drop away cos they haven't heard about you for a minute.

So we just turn up at festivals and catch another hundred who have never seen us before and we just keep going from strength to strength on the basis of that. we're like Ike Turner in the '50s, we just turn up, people are like "fucking hell" and that's it. Old fashioned shit man. You know what I mean so long may it continue. Got to be careful about any Scottish festivals though, got a bad reputation with police up there.

Was that where room service smelled you smoking weed and reported you?

Yeah, fucking grass. What a cunt. The other one, I took all the fans outside Edinburgh Opera House or Picturehouse or whatever, took them all outside there like I do with the acoustic and some knob head came round the corner dead fast and ran one of my fans' foot over. He was alright, just bruised his foot. Next thing, coppers are like "we're doing you for disturbing the peace". I'm not being funny but how's it my fucking fault that someone's not indicated? So yeah, me and Scottish rozzers don't get on too well, I'll need to keep myself fucking cool when I'm in there. 

I can't see that happening to be honest - will you be slipping some new tunes into the sets then?

We've got one that's an absolute banger that'll rip your face off called 'Too Tough To Die' and it's an absolute fucking tune. I don't care who you are, if you don't like it there's something wrong with you - proper banger. We're gonna definitely be unleashing that and then the album you'll probably have to be into that, it's a bit more subtle. It's definitely the best thing we've ever done. So yeah we'll probably get a couple in but you can't be too clever live, it's just a fucking party. Boom, we'll clobber you round the head with some bangers.

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