On a mundane Wednesday evening, I casually rang up the Reverend himself, attempting to hide my excitement, (something which I think I’m getting better at as of late). After Jon McClure put down the baby, we had a quick chat about the local scene, the latest album, and the perilous prospect of becoming a sad old bastard, to name a few things. With their last two albums being personal favourites of mine, (look, we even reviewed the latest one), I picked the Reverend’s brains regarding the development of the band, and their growing, maturing discography.
In a question that I probably could’ve researched myself, (but didn’t as I’m not a fully-fledged music journalist), how did the ‘reverend’ moniker come about? Were you a particularly religious man?
You know Andy Nicholson from the Arctic Monkeys, the first bass player? He just started calling it me, and it kinda just stuck from there. The rest is history.
I was expecting something a bit more elaborate…
No, it’s no mystery mate. I always thought it’d be good, but it’s not like I make people call it me.
I think it’s safe to say that you’re known for your direct rhetoric. Do you think this helps you stay true to your roots?
Yeah, I think so. I think the fans appreciate the realness of what I do. I think that there’s a lot to be said, and in the days of social media, mystique is nonsense. I don’t know why people try to be mysterious, ‘cause they just look like idiots.
I’ve kind of gone the other way now, down that hyper-real route. It’s interesting what Liam Gallagher’s done over the last year, he’s kinda grasped that; he’s just started being himself on Twitter, and that’s all you’ve got to do, really. He was a rock star who had mystique in the nineties, and he’s realised it’s a different era we’re living in- He’s gone the other way, and that’s how I try to be. Why try to make out you’re living this fairy-tale? It’s bollocks…
You’d get pulled up sooner or later anyway…
Yeah, I just think you can’t do it anyway. Everyone’s got a camera-phone or some way of intruding into your life, so I try to be as real as possible.
Noel Gallagher said that Mirrors was like one of the great concept albums of the sixties. But reversing that, have you heard ‘Holy Mountain’, and what do you reckon to it?
I salute Noel for trying to do something different. I’ve always wanted him to make that sort of ‘Setting Sun’ album that he threatened to do with The Chemical Brothers. Luckily, he’s sent me the album, I’ve heard it, and it is very different from anything you’ve heard from him before. That song doesn’t really represent how different it is; there’re some other bits that are way out west, and I think it’s the best thing he’s ever done. I hope and wish he’ll do more of it.
I think people are worried that the album will be very similar to the single…
People had a go at Bob Dylan for it. [Noel’s] had a lifetime of making a certain type of music, and how much longer can he do that, really? I salute anyone who tries to do something new, and that’s what I try to do on my own records.
Speaking of something new, The Death of a King and Mirrors are worlds apart from your early stuff…
Just like Oasis were big Beatles fans, just as I am, you’re capturing the true spirit of The Beatles, to go forwards and to try new things. The Beatles didn’t stay playing ‘She Loves You’, did they?
What’s inspired these changes, from Mirrors onwards?
Getting older, to be honest. A lot of our music was very dance-influenced…
(The Reverend quickly says goodnight to the young ‘un…)
Sorry pal, that’s answered your question, hasn’t it? I think if you carry on making dance music when you’re in your mid/late thirties, you like a bit of a try-hard, d’you know what I mean?
I think with getting older, the type of music you think you can make, and want to make, changes. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not turned into a boring bastard since I’ve had kids, but equally, I don’t take ecstasy; Ecstasy and dance music are good bedfellows, even your drugs change when you get older.
Would you say you’ve got a bit more realistic?
I wouldn’t even say realistic. Lyrically, the first album’s hyper-realistic, a proper Sheffield kitchen-sink thing. The other thing is that you get better; we’re better than we’ve ever been. I’ve been in the studio today working on brand new shit, and it’s fucking incredible man. I feel like I’m getting better, and I’m making better records.
If you listen to my voice, it’s better than it used to be. It’s a myth that your first album is your best album, ‘cause it’s just not true; a lot of people do, but we’re getting better.
In that case, what’s your favourite track on The Death of a King?
‘Black Flowers’, the one that Laura sings on, she’s got a beautiful voice. She loves James Bond, so it’s my attempt at writing her a Bond song. In a just world, that’d be the Bond theme, wouldn’t it? In reality, Sam Smith’ll sing the bag of bollocks.
My personal favourite, for coming out of nowhere, was ‘Time Machine’…
I think there’s plenty of variety for everyone now, I try and send people on a mad journey. I heard this thing years ago, saying ‘the album’s dead, it’s all about singles’; I was like ‘fuck that man, albums are great!’. I’ve deliberately tried to make LPs that retain people’s interest.
You’ve got to listen to it from start to finish, too…
That’s it, the issue isn’t that people don’t like Mirrors or The Death of a King, it’s that they’ve not heard them, ‘cause they think we sound like what we used to sound like. That process of getting people to be like ‘actually fucking hell, this is amazing’, takes a minute. Gradually, people are getting it, but some still think we sound like ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’.
I had someone in a club expect the latest tunes to be played, thinking that was how you guys still sound.
Nah, it’s not made for the club, ‘cause I don’t go to clubs anymore. I’m not a sad old bastard, I might go to a few select dos but that’s it. That’s why you’ve got to write about what you know. There’s certain bands of our genre who are trying right hard to make that eighteen-year-old Radio 1 music, and make what they do fit that paradigm, and it just sounds fucking forced.
Keep an eye out for the second half of the interview with the Reverend, and have a gander at Reverend and the Makers’ upcoming tour dates, especially their inevitably massive do at Sheffield’s O2 Academy tomorrow, the 27th.
Images courtesy of Reverend and the Makers’ Facebook page.