Interview with The JIM JONES REVUE just after their explosive sold-out show at La Rodia (Besançon, France.) A good occasion to know more about the band’s history and talk about blues, The GUN CLUB, Stiv Bators, Nick Curran and way more… A rock”n’roll entrevue!
You’re on tour in France right now, how is it goin’?
Rupert: We’ve had some really good shows. We had a great show in Bordeaux on Saturday night, then we did Angoulême at La Nef on Sunday, another great show and we played with BLACK JOE LEWIS & The HONEYBEARS tonight which is a real treat…
So, they only opened for you tonight? No other common gigs
Rupert: Yeah, it’s just one show, unfortunately ’cause we’re friends with them.
Their music works very well as an opening act for you…
Rupert: We haven’t seen them play really before, but yeah the two styles complemented each other. Similar but different. I saw Joe Lewis playing a long time ago in Austin and he was just like playing punk rock, you know and it’s really good to see him play with a big band now. They’re really nice people, I think it was a good fit and I’m sure we’ll play again together soon.
Jim played in THEE HYPNOTICS. What about the other members? Did you play in other bands before?
Rupert: Nick played in HEAVY STEREO. NIck: Yeah, you look like you might have been into HEAVY STEREO back in the day! Rupert: We all played in various bands in the past but The JIM JONES REVUE really put us together as a kind of unit.
So you’re not all from London originally?
Rupert: No, we’re from all over like Scotland but we all live in London.
You played a Jeffre Lee Pierce song that never got released before tonight. Will it be released on a compilation or something?
Gavin: Yeah it’s called “We Are Only Riders”. Rupert: It’s put together by this guy called Cypress Grove, he was one of the last guys to play guitar with Jeffrey Lee Pierce but he’s been friends with him for a long time and he discovered after Jeffrey did die that he had all these cassettes with original demos of GUN CLUB stuff, solo stuff and stuff that they jammed together. It’s really scratchy quality but he thought it would be a good idea to get people and re-record them.
I think the first record was released a couple of years ago and had Nick Cave, Lydia Lunch, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan… And it was really well received so they wanted to do another one. They contacted me originally about working with my sister, which didn’t happen and then we just kept in contact ’cause we met one of the guys who is involved in the project when we played in New Jersey last year.
He said “Oh yeah The JIM JONES REVUE should do one”, we said yeah we’d love to do one but it’s really hard to get the time. We saw them when we were last in America in September and they said “we’ve got to master it in the middle of October.” I said we only got like a week off in London before we start the French tour.;; We arranged it one day, recorded it another day, recorded it on the last day and then mixed it so it was like boom, boom, boom! I don’t know when it’s gonna be released, I think it’s gonna be early next year sometime or maybe even later this year. It’s released on German label Glitterhouse records. Nick Cave does a version of the same song we do as well, which we haven’t heard so it’s gonna be quite interesting. Gavin, you’ve heard this other record, didn’t you? Gavin: Yeah, they got different artists to do the same songs. Nick Cave was on that one too. All different versions. Rupert: And it’s a charity projects as well, all the money goes to Amnesty International and publishing goes to Jeffrey’s family, so it’s all done for the right reasons and we’re really proud to be part of it. We’ve only played the song a few times, tonight was the second or third time we’ve ever played it!
It sounded really good, almost as if it was your own song actually. You gave it your own sound.
Jim: It’s just Jeffrey’s work but… We were given something very rough… Rupert: We got the cassette of him actually playing it, just him, an acoustic guitar and another guitarist. It sounds like a country jam or something. You know what I mean, sounding very different from the song we played tonight. Jim: I think the point of the project is to give your own life to his works, so that’s what we tried to do. It’s just a big honour you know, I went to see the GUN CLUB play a couple of times when I was a lot younger. They were one of those bands back then, you heard him do Robert Johnson’s songs and it was made like Robert Johnson. They were very important… Rupert: I think it’s a testament… We’re still singing around and talking about the GUN CLUB and Jeffrey Lee Pierce 25 or 30 years later. I was lucky enough to see the GUN CLUB as well. It’s just astonishing, really.
Let’s talk about your albums, the first one has a very rough garage sound compared to “Burning Your House Down”, was it intentional?
Nick: We only had like £10 to record that record! (Laughs) Jim: Yeah, no money and we just needed to get something recorded in order to get better gigs… And we just knew that there’s no point trying to make something tidy with no money ’cause it’s gonna sound like shit so we decided to make something very aggressive… Rupert: We could have gone into a cheap studio that sounds average but we thought: “right, what can we do? Let’s just go into our rehearsal room and play straight live”, that’s what we did and that’s what you hear. There literally isn’t any overdubs ’cause we did play it live and there is no way we could have done overdubs, we didn’t even have the technology… Nick: Not even enough tracks! (Laughs) Rupert: yeah, I can’t remember but it was like 4 tracks! One of them was for the vocals and 3 mics around the room and that was it, really.
…And in the end, it gives the abum its own touch and identity…
Rupert: Yeah! It’s quite odd actually ’cause everybody in France loves that record, they really cherish it while everyone else goes “what the fuck is this noise?!” (Laughs) Nick: We never thought it would get on the radio, you know? Rupert: It’s lovely really that eveyone loves it here! (Laughs) Jim: You know, people were like “can I hear your album?” they take you more seriously when you have an album, that’s why we needed to do it… And then suddenly started to hear it on the BBC! Gavin: I can remember Rupert told me “this will never get played on the radio” and then a couple of DJs did play it on the radio. We were quite astonished by that, and then we got live sessions. It started snowballing from that…
Silm Buen (Slime ‘zine): The first album was out on Punk Rock Blues records, right? Is it your own label?
Jim: Yeah, it’s the label that Rupert set up. When we first met, he was booking shows and was bringing over some really cool blues guys, Mississippi Delta guys…
Slim Buen (Slime ‘zine): Yeah, I went to this festival you put up once!
Jim: We met up at one of these festivals, that’s where we met Nick too…
Slim Buen (Slime ‘zine): At The Luminaire?
Rupert: Well, the first one took place at The Spitz, then I did it in lots of different venues… About Punk Rock Blues records, I set it up as a kind of showcase for people that I was putting on like The IMMORTAL LEE COUNTY KILLERS and lots of other people. So it was kind of always there and, when the band came together, it just seemed that we’d put it out for that label. I’ve got some plans to maybe release other artists over the nex year ’cause there’s some good people out there who derserve to be put out and deserve distribution networks and that stuff.
You seem to have a lot of American influences in the band?
Rupert: Totally! Jim: Yeah, but you know, it’s always been that way. I mean, black American music, the ROLLING STONES sound like American black music! Nick: Yeah, or The FACES! Jim: Exactly, if you follow that trail back, it takes you back to Robert Johnson and all these guys back then.
Were you already in these guys and old blues stuff when you were playing in THEE HYPNOTICS?
Jim: Oh yeah! Rupert: When I met Jim, I was bringing over black American musicians. You know what I mean? It wasn’t like a second-hand thing, I was actually going to Mississippi to meet these people and bring them over to London. That’s what I did and there’s very few people doing that in London. I don’t think there was many people doing that in Europe. That’s how I got to know Jim. I think the first time I did a show in London with Jim was with the BLACK DIAMOND HEAVIES from nashville, Tennessee.
Is there any British band that you’ve actually enjoyed lately?
Rupert: Yeah, actually one of them called RUSSEL AND THE WOLVES split up. We played with them a few times. At that festival that you were talking about, they played with BOB LOG.
The JIM JONES REVUE seems to do pretty well in France…
Nick: Yeah, France was the first country that really embraced us from the early days when we started coming over… It has just grown and grown, each time we come back. Rupert: France has always been very strong for us, first time was right when we released our first record. The French loved it immediately, more than they did in our own country, in the UK. We were on national TV in France in 2009 you know? It too a couple of years for that to happen in the Britain. I mean the UK is cool now but we’ve got really fond memories and I think we’ll always have a special relationship with France.
I also remember that the GUN CLUB really did well in France too so it’s nice to have this kind of signature. It’s interesting we talked about that compilation record earlier ’cause when I was talking to the guys putiing out the record that we did the song for, they said that GUN CLUB and Jeffrey Lee Pierce stuff doesn’t sell in The States. Only in Europe. It’s that old classic thing, no one recognizes you in your own home country.
It also happened to The LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH for instance.
Rupert: Jim was friend with Stiv Bators. Jim: Yeah, I became friend with Stiv the last few years when he was living with his girlfriend in Paris in Le Louvre area. I used to go visit them in the early days of The HYPNOTICS. Stiv was a supporter of the band. We were like “Wow! This guy!”, you know? We would go there and listen to him: “Have you seen this? Have you heard this band? Do you know about this conspiracy?” or “Look! Johnny Thunders was here!”… He had stories about everything and we were like “Wow!!!”… So yeah, he was like a second father to us young rock’n’rollers!
Slim Buen (Slime ‘zine): I can see similarities between you and Nick Curran, you know him, right?
Gavin: We played with him in Austin! He joined us for “Good Golly Miss Molly”. Rupert: We played together at this place called Justine’s, a French restaurant. The guy who runs it, Pierre is a full-on rock’n’roll fan so all the guys go play and eat in Austin. They all know it’s the cool place to hang out. Nick: Oh yeah, stacks and stacks of vinyls behind the bar! It’s amazing! Rupert: You should definitely check it out next time you’re in Austin! We’ve got a friend there called Danny B. Harvey, he plays with The HEAD CAT and lots of other people, and we said “we really want to meet Nick, we really want to meet him!” so he hooked us up with Nick and we did the show together. He played after us and we did a set together. Jim: Danny B. Harvey was playing with Wanda Jackson at that time and he’s connected with all these people. Rupert: He played with Nick too and it It was like: “Yeah, we’re huge, huge fans of that album”… And then he came on playing “Good Golly Miss Molly” with us and it’s just fucking incredible, his voice is so astonishing and matches so well with his guitar playing! It was just phenomenal! Really, really good…. Nick: And he’s a good drummer too!…
Ok… So thanks for the interview guys!
Rupert: Thank you!… Oh and that tiny keyboard player sitting on the couch is called Henri Herbert and he’s half-French! Though he’s pretending he can’t speak French! (Laughs)…