SHEFFIELD scenesters Reverend And The Makers burst onto the scene five years ago with a top five debut album and top 10 hit single in Heavyweight Champion Of The World.
As well as achieving further chart success with their latest album, the Reverend himself, Jon McClure, has enjoyed a memorable year which has seen him share a stage with some of his heroes.
As McClure told Mail reporter TIM FLETCHER, he has ditched the politics and ‘cheered up’, but still draws inspiration from his native Sheffield.
IT’S customary for the Mail to interrupt music stars in the midst of rock ‘n’ roll shenanigans, so what kind of crazy antics is Reverend and the Makers frontman Jon McClure up to when the phone rings? “I’m in my house on the toilet,” he says, in his distinctive South Yorkshire burr.
“I’m just about to pull the flush.” McClure declines the invitation to ‘give him five minutes’ and instead goes on to talk about a successful summer which has seen his band return to the charts with their third album, @Reverend_Makers, and perform a string of high profile tour dates, including supporting Red Hot Chilli Peppers at Knebworth and Sunderland’s Stadium Of Light.
“It’s been amazing,” he says. “We’ve had a bit of a resurgence, our album went top 20, we’ve played some amazing festivals and the tour is selling really well.
“We did (Scottish music festival) T In The Park and Nicki Minaj was playing at the same time so everyone decided they didn’t want to watch her mime, so came to see us instead. Our tent was rammed.”
The summer also saw McClure fulfil two childhood ambitions in one when he joined Clash legend Mick Jones for a version of the punk heroes’ classic Bankrobber at the long-awaited Stone Roses gig at Heaton Park in Manchester.
“I’ve been doing quite a bit with Mick,” he says. “He asked me if I wanted to do it at the Leadmill (at Jones’s Hillsborough Justice gig at the Sheffield venue last year) and I just nailed it.
“Mick’s a geezer and to sing with him at Heaton Park was a dream come true. My favourite bands are The Wailers, the Roses and The Clash, so it was a perfect day for me.”
The Makers also supported Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, so how do mega arena support slots compare with the band’s headline gigs?
“I love it, man,” says McClure. “The pressure’s off in some ways because it’s not your crowd so you can just have a laugh.
“It’s a real honour to play with people like Noel who are legends and who I look up to and really admire. When people like that tell you they like your stuff, it’s a real shot in the arm.”
McClure has never been afraid to speak his mind, but says he has ‘dropped the politics’ for his latest release.
“On the one hand I’ve cheered up and on the other I dawned on me that when tmies are bad people don’t want you to tell them how bad it is, so we’ve just turned it into a big party,” he says.
“Loads of young kids are getting into it for the first time, which is encouraging not just for the band but for music in general.
“Kids are turning away from this nasty pop stuff. They’re bored of it and the logical thing for them to turn back to is bands who write songs.”
McClure says his cheerier state of mind is due to the fact he has ‘stopped taking as many drugs, got married and chilled out’.
“Notice I said ‘as many’ drugs,” he clarifies. “I’m not one of those people who cleans up and says ‘the drugs don’t work’. For me they do work — just not too many.”
McClure, a mate of Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, says his music draws inspiration from the city which, unlike other Sheffield-born musicians, he is still proud to call home, while the latest record boasts added electronic influences which echo some of South Yorkshire’s illustrious musical heritage.
“The history of Sheffield is that people seem to have done their best to move away from the city but I’m still here, as are people like Phil Oakey and Richard Hawley,” he says.
“We’ve got our own rules and regulations and there’s also a tradition of electronic music, from Cabaret Voltaire to the Human League, combined with that kind of northern witticism you hear from people like Alex and Jarvis (Cocker), and is probably in our music as well.
“It’s a great place to live, a multicultural city, there’s no gang violence and people are just chilled out — you can walk down the street having a spliff and no-one bothers you.
“We’ve got that northern thing where we feel that kind of disconnect from London and we don’t want to listen to what they tell us.”
McClure has spoken out on the issue of illegal music downloads, and says fans who enjoy his music for free should at least show their appreciation in other ways.
“My position is I’d prefer you to buy my record because I’m not a rich man, but if you’re going to steal the record at least come and see me live because otherwise there’s no money in it,” he says.
“If people want to steal music they should go and steal a David Guetta or Jessie J record because they don’t need the money.
“The good thing for us is we can go around the country and play to at least 1,000 people in every city, which is a real blessing in this age of recession where bands can’t even get off the ground.
“We came along in an era where it was just on the cusp of downloading, so we’ve still got an old school fanbase.
“For any band to get three top 20 records is a tall order, so I’m really happy.”
Reverend and the Makers play at Nottingham Rescue Rooms on Wednesday, October 17 and at Birmingham O2 Academy on Sunday, October 21.
The Nottingham gig is sold out but tickets for Birmingham are available online at www.o2academybirmingham.co.uk