Sheffield favourites Reverend and the Makers are back with a new album and tour.
Mirrors, the band’s fifth album, is released today, Friday, October 9, ahead of a UK tour, including a sell-out show at Sheffield’s O2 Academy on Saturday, November 14.
And, ahead of the album’s release, the Reverend – frontman Jon McClure, who lives near Hunters Bar with his wife Laura, the band’s keyboardist, and their baby son – has put pen to paper about life, love and music.
Jon, aged 33, says: “How could I talk my way through the mire of trying to make ‘I’ve got another album and a tour coming up’ sound remotely interesting a fifth time round?
“Spin a yarn perhaps. Paul is dead, pact with the devil-style, whopper. Anything to detract from the monochrome reality of ‘I just write songs and play on me PlayStation and smoke’. But fabricating fairytales would be rubbish and my mum would do her nut frankly.
“So the truth it is. I’m resolved to tell it to you.
“Sheffield was great. A genuine sense of excitement the air. I had my thing and it was beginning to go well. It felt proper too. Lyrical. About something.
“We had a different sound to most of the guitar bands. A brilliant first record. John Cooper Clarke liked my stuff.
“Then bang we are in the charts. I’m on the telly.Its a conveyor belt of free stuff and gigs.
“My mates are in a band too. They become so famous that it dwarfs anything anyone’s done then or since. We had the same management, agent, press fella.
“All I can ask is that you press play and listen to it, disregarding what has proceeded it and irrespective of who made it. Judge it on its own merit.Jon McClure
“Whenever I do an interview the first questions is about Arctic Monkeys.
“So I spit my dummy out. Thinking, I wanna talk about literature or summat mate. I’m an artist can’t you see?
“I begin to become guarded with journalists. I take to saying outrageous things to divert them from the usual line of questioning. Comparing Johnny Borrell to Hitler. Claiming i’m the reincarnation of Bob Marley and so on.
“Stupidly, I’m wondering why people claim to find me ‘difficult’.
“I take umbrage when they don’t think my record is wonderful. I call the editor of the NME some awful things and get myself excommunicated from the magazine that featured me the most.
“People I love begin telling me that the person they read in interviews isn’t me, but some personality I put on for the occasion.
“We made another good record. My favourite. But that was obscured by this point as I’d sabotaged the project.
“Interviews became a monologue of well-intentioned political comments, expressed badly – think Russell Brand crossed with John Shuttleworth.
“Worse still we kept getting lumped in with the lad bands. Laura is both a girl and a southerner but it made little difference to protest. The die had been cast and the mould I’d made for us stuck. I felt bad towards my band mates. I’d made it this way. Any discussion of our music was always secondary to my being a loudmouth by this point.
“I threatened to quit the music industry. Many wished I’d made good on my promise.
“We returned though with two more patchy records. In places it’s majestic. In others, it sounds like we are trying to jump on a bandwagon or two.
“The record reviews reflected this, though I’m at ease with the fact that I can’t be Bob Dylan every day. Sometimes I’m great, sometimes I’m awful.
“I cheered up though. Laura and I had a baby boy.
“I didn’t worry about the press as we weren’t getting much to worry about.
“Our live shows went from being a bit moody, to a full-on party. Our festival sets were unbelievable. I toured around people’s houses. We developed this cult thing, the ‘Rev Army’.
“More people started coming to our gigs as fewer radio stations played our records. I was glad to still be at it. Almost everyone we’d come through with had disbanded.
“So happy am I existing in this twilight zone between moderate success and being an irrelevance to most people within the M25 – we have enough fans for me to release book of poetry and lyrics.
“I’m content to be a small annotation in the margins of the rock ’n’ roll story. I began to see for perhaps the first time since the debut album that it was about the music we make. Nothing else mattered by this point.
Ed [Cosens, guitarist and Jon’s best friend] and I became resolute to make a record that we loved. Why not? Every album we make goes to about 13 in the charts anyway.
“Why not indulge the overwhelming urge to not play games any more and set about making some art we are actually proud of rather than the release, tour, festivals, repeat cycle we’d been on since forever.
And so we took the files we’d been diligently recording off to Jamaica and spruced them up a bit while making a film.
“The result is the best thing we’ve ever done in my opinion.
“The reaction when I play it to people is like nothing I’ve seen before, except maybe the first album. Sometimes I wish it were our debut.
“But what use is me telling you it’s brilliant?
“All I can ask is that you press play and listen to it, disregarding what has proceeded it and irrespective of who made it. Judge it on its own merit.
Whether it’ll convince the people who’ve long since made up their mind about us, is neither here nor there.
“What matters is the music and the art we leave behind.
“Part of me wishes I’d seen that earlier but then I never did trust people who aren’t a bit of an idiot during a large proportion of their twenties.
“Thanks for reading.”