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From the word go, Jon McClure is easy to talk to – full of candour. He says what he actually thinks, not what he thinks I want to hear. The new Reverend and the Makers album is called ThirtyTwo, Jon’s age. He tells me that he is totally at ease with where he is at in his life; he does not find the seven years since the release of their first album, The State of Things, restrictive in any way. “I think if you don’t try and be something you’re not and move your music with you, you can do very well as an older feller,” he says, before highlighting the successes of older artists such as Seasick Steve.
Jon says it’s clear in the music that they were having fun when recording their fourth album – “it’s full of bangers, and probably the best album we’ve ever made.” When asked how the album compares musically to their previous work, I am told it combines the clever lyrics of their first album with the melodic nature of their third (which is convenient as their second one is generally considered to be their weakest work, with a heavy political theme he says is not present in the new album).
The band have always been active with their fanbase, providing exclusive content, doing live video streams and even a recent spate of free gigs in fans’ houses, all with the intention of creating a vibe around the band. Jon says it was this perseverance that enabled them to sell out The Plug in Sheffield (which has a capacity of over 1000 people) twice before they were eventually signed and started playing even bigger venues. He compares this way of going about it with what he calls the “get management, get record label, get on the radio” approach. Jon tells me that now is a good time for music because Twitter has made the industry more democratic by cutting out the middle-men (managers, producers etc.), “breaking down the barriers of rock and roll.” He talks about how important it is to first get a vibe in the area you are from before taking it to the rest of the world, pointing out that his Sheffield routes are obvious in his music.
As well as working at it themselves, one of the ways Reverend and the Makers have got themselves out there is by supporting bigger bands on tours. “When people like Noel Gallagher [Oasis] or Flea [Red Hot Chili Peppers] ask us to come on tour with them, it is a real affirmation of what we do.” Jon suggests that one of the reasons Noel asked him to support both the final Oasis and High Flying Birds tours could be that he shares a similar view on the state of music today: “Driving to work listening to Nick Grimshaw play Little Mix records isn’t what the nation wants, I don’t care who you are.” Jon says music with “integrity and depth” can be found online, and predicts it will soon replace the “inane nonsense” on the radio as “everyone thinks it’s rubbish.” We’ll have to wait and see if he’s right.
For the full interview, including a humorous anecdote in which Liam Gallagher asked Jon what his favourite type of pea was, listen to the Live Sessions show on Bailrigg FM – February 4th, 7pm.