We have the chance to talk with Jim Jones, the ex leader of Thee Hypnotics who is in Spain to present his latest album, called The Savage Heart. An album that leaves Jim Jones Revue as the british rock band to beat right now. Their shows are a genuine mix of intensity, sweat, chemistry, good feelings and lost years.
ROCKAST talks with Jim Jones about rock, punk, live shows and life itself. And you know when you’re talking to Jim Jones he’s going to have a lot to say.
How is the tour going so far? I’ve seen you get to play 6 or 7 consecutive nights?
We’re doing good. Cool. We did 5 shows in France, then Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Madrid tonight and Bilbao tomorrow and then back to France.
Can you keep your voice after all these nights?
Well you can hear is croaky. You just have to be careful. One of the worst things happens straight after the show, if you go to a noisy room and try to talk with people. I always try to take 5 or 10 minutes after the show to let my voice calm down. Some people thing like oh you think you’re a star you don’t wanna come and talk to us, but it’s a rest, my voice has to sing for everybody tomorrow so I don’t have to cancel the show you know? The most important thing is the show so I spend the rest of the day just trying to get ready for it. The best thing for your voice is sleep. But you’re always on tour, you play late, you get back to the hotel late, then it takes a while to calm down and up in the morning you have to drive for 6 hours sometimes.
Burning Your House Down was very well received, does it actually add more pressure when you made The Savage Heart?
Emm… No, I mean, I think is a good thing. Obviously you think about it but you don’t worry about it. Because if you start worrying worry about it you start changing the way you do things. Is important to make the music that you think is right. You think about what people like, because when you’re playing live you can see what works. But to be creative you have to feel like you’re breaking new grounds someway, all the time. If you try to go backwards that’s a mistake. I’ve never really tried it so I don’t know, maybe is the secret of success (laughs).
In The Savage Heart you’ve worked with 2 Jim Sclavunos (Sonic Youth, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds drummer) and Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys,Adele, Editors) how was the experience with them? Have they managed to get the best of you?
Yeah I think so, I think we had a really good team. We were trying to get sounds. I think the best way to have an album that sounds different to everyone else is to have a drum sound, an a guitar sound, and a vocal sound that sounds different from everyone else. So that takes a certain kind of person. Jim Sclavunos is very good, he knows the standard procedure but he’s also open minded to try something if he thinks is going to get a better sound. You can ask him to do anything, you can say Jim, we need to murder 5 children to get the right sound for this, and Jim will be like “ok, where do we find the children? I mean, what I’m trying to say is that he’s not usually shocked.
And then for the mixing, I first heard Jim Abbiss through The Heavy single How You Like Me Now?(sings) I thought that it sounded more than punchy but also realistic which you can hear in all their records and I quite liked that. I found out that the producer was Jim Abbiss so we contacted him and we were lucky enough that he was free to do the mixing. We sounded pretty strong already but I think he just pussed that a little bit further with the sound, and it was quite interesting working with him.
“Look, if you came out to see a Jim Jones Revue show, you should take something from it.”
On your shows you get the audience to dance, and have massive fun while you’re playing, and this is something not very usual on gigs nowadays. A truly Rock and Roll band has to convince everyone in the audience to be considered?
You need to try. I think that people that come to the show is not an spectator, if you come you should get involved. Of course you don’t have to, some people do like to stand in the shadows just watching what’s going on. Look, if you came out to see a Jim Jones Revue show you should take something from it. You should really make it worthwhile. If somebody ask you: What did you do yesterday? You’ll have “well I stood still” or “I disconnected and I had a great time”
Your live shows are full of energy and straight RnR, but Do you feel like you receive from the audience the same energy you’re giving them?
Yeah yeah, if you keep pushing eventually you get a reaction.
Do you think Rock and Roll is getting less popular for real or is just that the media pay enough attention to what bands are doing?
I don’t know, people standards are a little bit different these days. There’s like 3 or 4 generations of people that grown up not having any examples of what it really means to cut through, and do something you know… It’s been a long time since the punk movement, and the real part of that only lasted for a year before it became just a fashion. People were like oh yeah I have green hair and I wear spikes, but punk rock originally was about trying to show to people that you can be an individual, that you can do something different and that you don’t have to follow everybody else’s example or have special skills to do, if you have something to say you can just come out and say it. But pretty soon it just became about green hair and safety pins and you know, ridiculous fucking fashion thing, like nothing to do with what the original movement was about, but I don’t know, I haven’t really seen anything since then that was on that scale to show any of the generations that they can turn their back on what has been given to them. You know most people accept, ok this is hip/hop, and this is RnB, and this is heavy metal and they just accept it because it is, and they don’t have any examples on how to do something for themselves, they just take what’s been given to them.
“I don’t sing about pink cadillacs, that’s not my life”
Some people think you’re an American band because of your sound. What happened to the Rock in the UK?
Yeah well I really don’t know, I mean we are quite busy so we don’t have much time to look to other stuff that’s going on. But the bands that I listen to are mostly American, and the bands that I take the inspiration from, whether it be The Stooges or Duke Ellington, Sons of the Pioneers…many many musicians. When I was young the British bands that I really like were the ones that sounded American, like the Stones, The Faces, Beatles, The Beatles sound like an American band to me. I play American music, but this music has its connection on Irish, Scottish, Folk music, mixed with African roots music. But I don’t sing about pink cadillacs, as it’s not my life, I sing about my life and what I see around me, and what I feel in my dreams you know? It’s a mistake if you try to follow a fashion, like Rock and Roll as a fashion, because for me that’s not true. I think is a word that describes a music that has an intensity of feeling. And I hear it when I hear to Charlie Mingus or John Coltrane, that’s jazz yes, but it has intensity you know? And for me Rock and Roll means intensity. There’s the term Rock And Roll as used to represent a music that is a mixture of blues and country and bluegrass, I understand that and I like that music
I think the Jim Jones Revue are very careful trying not to stay in a little pigeon hole. We are interested in too many different things to get stuck in just one place.
Do you still have this strong interaction with your fans? Can I do the light?
Yeah I guess so. Yes you can if you want! You have to work though!
What music you’ve been listening lately?
Well we played loud RnR everynight so when I get time I listen to Duke Ellington quite a lot. Also early country music,Sons of the Pioneers, Jimmy Rogers, etc… I listen to that music to relax. It’s quite inspiring as well.
Any plans for next year?
We’re always doing live shows, so we’ll be playing live somewhere. But I think we’re going to try to make an early start whenever we have any free time, we’re going to work on new songs, so when the time comes for the next album we have something ready. Also when we were working on The Savage Heart, towards the end of the writing process, we thought that we have found a new way of working, of creativity. Everybody is keen to see what else comes out.
Are you happy?
Pretty much, yeah. Not bad. (laughs)
The Savage Heart (PIAS) 2012.