Reverend Jon McClure interview: I've not made my best album yet

Jon McClure (Reverend and The Makers) speaks about the band's lauded fifth album, his NYE plans in Sheffield and plans to write a novel.

Jimmy Coultas

Last updated: 7th Jan 2016.
Originally published: 6th Dec 2015

Image: Reverend and The Makers 

Sheffield five piece Reverend And The Makers have been a presence in the UK indie scene for almost 10 years now. Their 2007 debut album The State Of Things spawned top ten single ‘Heavyweight Champion Of The World' and the band have gone on to release four records since.

Over the years they have gained a cult following alongside bands like the Courteeners, Kasabian and The Enemy. Prior to the release of their second album, they supported Oasis at Wembley stadium on the tour where the Gallaghers would eventually part ways.

Mirrors, the band’s latest release has been met with critical acclaim from not only journalists but also the band’s peers. Carl Barat and Noel Gallagher have given the record serious praise, and it has won further plaudits for its complete change of musical direction.

The band are fronted by one Jon 'the Reverend' McClure, an unconventional yet undeterred rock star. Impervious to criticism, the Reverend is famed for his relationship with fans of the band, often playing in car parks after gigs for a good half an hour. 

This New Year’s Eve he will be playing an acoustic gig at the Rocking Chair in Sheffield, followed by a This Feeling DJ set, a night renowned for an unrivalled mash up of indie anthems.

Henry Lewis caught up with Rev the day after the band’s UK tour had ended to get his take on the band's new album and find out what’s in store for him over a very busy festive period.

Hi Jon, you okay? Big night last night by any chance?

Not too bad mate, we’ve got a little lad today so we couldn't go too daft but yeah we had a good drink and that. It were nice mate, lovely to be finished and it’s been a good tour. 

You've been touring your new album Mirrors, it was the final date last night wasn’t it?

It were, went out with a bang mate. Rock City is a great venue and we had a load of friends and family there, so good vibes yeah.

What has the support been like for this new record, have you seen any new faces at gigs or perhaps had tweets of support from fans who have latched onto Mirrors?

Yeah, you can’t really find a bad review of this new record and obviously a lot of my fellow musicians are saying nice things about it.

It’s just very encouraging, you know, to be 11 years in and to have made what most people consider to be our best record on our fifth album is great. Long may it continue.

It’s not often you see an indie band make such an impact with their fifth record, it’s normally the first or second isn’t it?

I’m telling you now man, I’ve not made my best album, there’s a lot more to come, you know what I mean? This is only the beginning and I can envisage myself doing this for the rest of my life.

We’ve been written off many times, but I think people are gradually get their heads round the idea that we’re not ever gonna go away.

Did all the new material go down well with the older fans?

Yeah amazing. We did a thing where we didn't stop between songs for a large proportion of it, a bit like an album does but obviously mixing like the old songs in and stuff.

It worked a treat, people loved it. We’ve got such a loyal fan base and obviously we picked up a lot of new fans with this new album.

You said earlier about the respect you've learnt from your peers, so much so that you’re supporting both the Courteeners and the Libertines in the next few months, are you looking forward to it?

It’s great that other bands big up what we do and yeah we’re heading into Europe with the Libertines as well as supporting them and the Courteeners in the UK.

It’s great that it's people I respect personally and knowing the fact that they’re into it is so good. I think I’m a rapper's rapper these days.

The Courteeners are similar to you in that they aren’t bigged up massively by the music press so it must be nice to have their support particularly?

Apparently I’m the comeback king according to the NME last week, so maybe they like me again? I don’t think it matters. Without being arrogant there’s two kinds of people with regards to the new album: there’s people who have heard it and love it and there’s people who haven’t heard it.

I don’t mean to be a dickhead or owt, but people that reckon they don’t like us just haven’t listened to the new album. A lot of people just think, "Reverend And The Makers, I’m not listening to that", but it's their loss because they’re cutting themselves off from good music.

There’s loads of bands that I don’t really like but if I heard a load of people saying they’d made a good record I'd give it a chance.

The thing I’d compare it to is when people tell you to watch Game Of Thrones and you think I’m not watching that shit with dragons and all that bollocks and then you actually watch it and it's mint.

You see it with Courteeners man they’ve been doing well for ages. It took them till they played Heaton Park for everyone to go like “fucking hell”.

It just takes a minute and I think I make a living from it, you know I’m not loaded but while I’m earning a living and that I’m not in a rush to ram it down people’s throats. I used to want to ram it down people’s throats, like “we’re reyt good us” but I don’t think we need to any more.

It’s a busy Christmas period for you, are you going to Joe Carnall Junior’s Christmas do? (Carnall Jnr is one of the Rev’s band mates and holds a Christmas party in Sheffield every year)

I certainly will be at Joe Carnall Junior's Christmas do yeah. It’s a bit like our works do, it’s so nice to go and watch someone else who’s a mate and listen to a load of good music and have a drink and not worry about the gig.

Obviously when you’ve got your own gigs you’ve got to try and stay in control of things but we always love going to watch Joe at Christmas and every year he sells it out more and more and more.

What are you doing for New Year’s Eve then?

We’ve got our own vibe, a little New Year’s Eve thing for Jack Daniels which should be fun. We love Mikey, he’s a good mate of mine from This Feeling. He’s a great lad and it’s just something to do at New Year’s Eve truth be told.

It’s not as if we’re doing it cos it’s a massive gig it’s only a reyt tiny place but truth be said I hate New Year’s Eve normally. I usually get stuck in a crap boozer with idiots so it’s nice to just do something where we’ll have a laugh, we’ll have all our friends with us and it’ll be good man.

Is it just you performing, or is it the whole band at This Feeling?

It’s like an acoustic thing so maybe Laura will do a little thing with the trumpet or a bit of keys or maybe Eddie will come up and play with me a bit. It’ll just be me and me mates really we’ll have a laugh.

Have you heard much of Bang Bang Romeo who are also on the bill? 

Yeah I have, they’re really good. I know Joel quite well from the band and I love the girl’s voice, I think it’s amazing. They kind of remind me of like Jefferson Airplane or something like that.

I’m just gonna get rip roaringly drunk after and have a good time.

How important is it to you that you’re seeing in the New Year in Sheffield?

It’s incredibly important. I love being in Sheffield, it’s like a friendly warm place where everyone gets on and people are nice to strangers. It’s like a little village but in a big city, it’s amazing. There’s no aggro in Sheffield, you have minimal aggro.

What’s so good about This Feeling?

It’s just a nice place to go with your mates and get pissed and have sing-a-longs and that. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to go out raving every now and again but you know when you go to bars and it’s just like David Guetta or something and it’s just awful and it’s just 'reyt' loud.

It’s just good to go and listen to music you like innit, good songs. They always put good nights on, This Feeling, whenever you go it's always rammed and people have a good night, as Mikey Jonns from This Feeling says, “a zone.”

Why is the Rocking Chair such an important venue to you?

It used to be an Irish bar years ago when we used to first start drinking and we used to go in there. Since it’s been called the Rocking Chair they’ve had loads of great gigs man, there’s a good little room downstairs. It’s been here a long time that building so it’s a really good venue.

It’s nice when you’re a band like our size, you don’t get to play them kind of places very often. Without being a dickhead or owt, they’d be too small for our band to play really so it’s nice to do something where there’s no pressure on it. There’s just a good vibe and you can go and have a good time.

You’re no stranger to playing intimate gigs though are you, what with all the living rooms you’ve played in now?

It’s nice to be able to see the whites of people’s eyes, have a laugh and it be a bit more intimate and just talk a bit more bollocks on the mic. There’s not as much pressure, when it’s a big massive gig at the Academy or such like, you’ve got a lot of pressure and there’s a lot of people paid a lot of money and stuff.

Finally, any big plans for 2016?

Yeah man I’m gonna finish my novel off and another piece of recording for a soundtrack and then this other thing that I’m working on that I can’t tell you about yet, but it’s gonna be great. Very busy indeed mate, just getting on with it. Onwards and upwards.

Words: Henry Lewis

Jon plays This Feeling NYE at The Rocking Chair in Sheffield - tickets available via the box below

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