Jon McClure: ‘Pop stars should talk balls’

Why the Makers singer has it with spineless musicians.

Jon McClure is raging against weak modern pop acts
Red mist Jon McClure preaches against being dull in music.

One of the most gloriously outspoken musicians around, Jon McClure is what a rock star still ought to be: honest, funny and with sweary opinions to spare.

The Sheffield frontman’s band Reverend And The Makers are currently touring their psychedelic new album Mirrors. Their finest work to date, it’s had praise from all corners including fellow musicians such as The Libertines and Noel Gallagher.

McClure tells Loaded why it’s more important than ever not to be beige in music and why Gallagher is furious about the title of his new album.

 


 

Beige pop stars need more colour by Jon McClure

Jon McClure sounds off for Loaded

 

I’ve talked a lot of bollocks and I don’t regret it. At least I’m not dull. There are a lot of beige fuckers around, when rock ‘n’ roll should be technicolour. Music should be full of characters and mad idiots.

Characters are what make music interesting, but everyone is afraid to upset the applecart. The reason people still want to read about Noel Gallagher and The Libertines is that they’re interesting, saying random shit that’s funny.

The worst thing is when musicians don’t seem to even like music. I want to read musicians talking about that obscure album by The 13th Floor Elevators that they love, not about ‘cracking America’.

I read a very successful female solo artist talking about breaking the American market recently. It made me feel sick.

I thought, ‘Go and work in Barclays or fucking Vodafone. Don’t make music, because you sound like a fucking accountant’. I can’t understand that mindset at all, it’s alien to me. When I grew up, my heroes were devil-may-care renegades. They weren’t focused on ‘breaking markets’.

I look at the debate Taylor Swift has, going on about protecting iTunes, and it just sounds like millionaires arguing about making more millions. It doesn’t have any relation to what goes on in people’s lives and it just sounds dull.

Part of the problem is that people expect you to be a fully-formed individual at all times. I’m certainly not. I’m 34 now, and some people don’t make great records until they’re in their thirties. A lot of people are pricks in their twenties – I was off my head, thinking I was brilliant when I made a lot of average records. I was a wanker, frankly.

Being interesting doesn’t mean talking about taking drugs. Our new album, Mirrors, has a film accompanying it, with a video for each song. We were going to call the film The Trip, but I didn’t want it to be defined by associations of drug-taking. Everyone takes drugs, so it’s incredibly passé and not shocking in any way. I don’t go on about cleaning my teeth every day, so why go on about taking drugs?

I don’t want to be associated by politics either. Our second album, A French Kiss In The Chaos, was very political, but I don’t want to keep repeating myself. My politics haven’t changed, but if life is a pack of fags, then politics is one cigarette in that packet. I don’t want to be boxed off as some left-wing bellend. As much as I admire Billy Bragg, I sometimes think, ‘Billy, do you never fancy watching West Ham and having a wank?’

Noel was furious, going, ‘Are you fucking joking? You’ve made a great album and called it something shit. You’ve copped out massively, you wanker’

Noel Gallagher certainly has some opinions about our new album. He says it’s the best album we’ve made and he agreed to write the press release for it, but he’s taken umbrage against me because he thinks Mirrors is a terrible title.

Noel likes to name things – he’s always naming people’s pets – so I asked him for a title for this record. He said, ‘Call it something grandiose, like The Wells Of…’ We made the album in Jamaica, so I was thinking The Wells Of Draperstown. But that sounds like somewhere you bury bodies, so I told Noel, ‘No offence, but I’m calling it Mirrors’.

Noel was furious, going, ‘Are you fucking joking? You’ve made a great album and called it something shit. You’ve copped out massively, you wanker’. A lot of musicians won’t say anything because they’re scared to cause offence in case their music won’t get played on the radio. Fuck that.

Noel Gallagher certainly has some opinions about our new album. He says it’s the best album we’ve made and he agreed to write the press release for it, but he’s taken umbrage against me because he thinks Mirrors is a terrible title.

Don’t be afraid to upset people, because getting airplay is an irrelevance. I used to pan Radio 1, but they’ve got a difficult job. They’re set an impossible brief by the government of being told to get young people into radio.Young people don’t listen to the radio. But Radio 1 don’t help themselves by being so Londoncentric.

Bands like Courteeners are a phenomenon in the north, where they headline stadiums. But they can’t get played on the radio at all. Why can’t Radio 1 have a Manchester or Sheffield division? The media being so Londoncentric is why I get told I’m in a ‘lads’ band’. I’ve always resented that.

My wife Laura plays in the Makers, she’s a multi-instrumentalist, yet we’re a ‘lads’ band’? It’s only because I’m confident and northern that we get called that. And what’s wrong with being a lad anyway? It’s not shameful. Music telly is no better. Later… With Jools Holland and TFI Friday are great, but that’s all there is.

Crucially, TFI is live and Chris Evans doesn’t give a fuck. That’s all you want for a presenter: someone who loves music and doesn’t give a fuck. I know a lot of musicians who refuse to go on a lot of what pass for TV music shows because they’re scripted to fuck. It’s, ‘Can you play the intro again, please?’ after you’ve played the same song seven times.

And why aren’t the Brit Awards shown live anymore? It’s as if someone has sat down and said, ‘Can we take as much personality out of rock ‘n’ roll as we humanly can?’

But I can see attitude making a comeback. It has to. At the moment, music is like Pan’s People prior to punk or Phil Collins and T’Pau before acid house.Things can’t be this corporate and this dull for so long without a reaction. My nieces and nephews are 17, 18 and they say, ‘Everything is wank’. So let’s do something about it!

There is a counter-culture, particularly in metal, and even Miley Cyrus has made an amazing, edgy record with her new album.But it’s all dispersed, and it needs a unifying movement to break through. When it does come, hopefully people will spare me because they’ll go, ‘You always said it was shit’.

Whatever happens, for the first time since I was 12, I’m happy to be me. We’ve made a properly great record, and I’ve been able to make it in Jamaica with my wife and our guitarist Ed Cosens, who’s my best mate. So I’m blessed. And for once Noel is wrong – Mirrors is an alright title.”

Heart of glass The not remotely beige video for the Makers’ new single Mr Glassalfempty.
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