In the April issue of Exclaim!, we dedicated our monthly Timeline feature to the lengthy history of Scottish icons the Jesus and Mary Chain, who changed the face of alternative music forever with their classic 1985 debut, Psychocandy.
What came up time and time again in our research was brothers Jim and William Reid's penchant for absolutely destroying their musical peers and forebears with their wit and, more often than not, their outright cruelty — even when they were actually fans of some of them.
Ahead of their long-awaited seventh album, Damage and Joy (out March 24 on ADA/Warner) we've rounded up some of their most notable barbs, against everyone from the Velvet Underground to Pearl Jam to their own fans and band members. You can read more about the band in our latest issue, but for now, here are 11 barbs that prove the Jesus and Mary Chain were even more savage than Oasis's Gallagher brothers.
On Joy Division:
During a TV appearance in Belgium, the band are asked about the comparisons to Joy Division. Jim Reid responds, "Joy Division were particularly awful. Joy Division were shit. Joy Division were fucking rubbish. I don't even like us being mentioned in the same sentence as Joy Division."
Thirty years later Jim will tell Vogue, "I hate that clip. What it was, we were doing this show and beforehand someone says to us, 'Well this guy's a massive Joy Division fan, so whatever you do, don't say anything bad about Joy Division.' Of course that was a red flag before a bull with us. I had no idea anyone would be watching it or that anyone would still be watching it now but they are, endlessly, it seems. It just so happens that Joy Division was and is one of my favourite bands."
On the Rolling Stones:
Following the incident on Belgian TV, the Reids begin to wreak havoc on other bands whenever invited to in interviews. On the Rolling Stones, Jim says, "The best thing that could have happened to the Rolling Stones was if they'd have met Charles Manson in '69 and he could have hacked their heads off with a chainsaw."
On Paul McCartney:
"He made the mistake of not getting murdered before he wrote 'Mull of Kintyre.'"
On the Stooges and Iggy Pop:
"After us, the perfect record is 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' by the Stooges, but the horrible guitar solo fucks it up." And later: "I've met Iggy Pop, and the guy's a sad old pathetic shit."
On Eric Clapton:
When explaining the perfect pop song, Jim says, "The Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker playing drums with Eric Clapton's severed head hanging from the drum kit."
On Daniel Lanois:
The label suggests the Mary Chain work with Daniel Lanois for their third album and they meet with him. "I think he practically shat himself," Jim will write in the liner notes to the 2011 deluxe reissue of Automatic. "At the time, we'd been listening to a lot of hip-hop so we said, 'We were thinking of getting in drum machines and sequenced bass.' He thought we were kidding, he was laughing, but when it became apparent we weren't joking, that was the end of working with Daniel Lanois."
On Johnny Rotten:
"We went to a rehearsal studio and Johnny Rotten was there, and he was just this completely pathetic zero. He's a sad old comedian. I thought, 'Well at least we've done more than that fucking scumbag.'
On David Bowie:
Bowie is responsible for the worst side of music, the New Romantics. What a fucking scumbag. Someone should've killed him. If he'd died in '72, music would be a lot healthier now."
On Felt/Primal Scream guitarist Phil King:
When it comes time to tour in October, the band relieve Dave Evans of his duties and search for a new guitarist. They decide between Phil King, who had played with Biff Bang Pow!, Felt, the Servants and Primal Scream, or Australian Ben Lurie, who was serving as the receptionist at Rough Trade.
Although he is criticized for having a ponytail and liking the Police, Lurie wins after a coin toss. "Jim says they flipped a coin and Ben won," King will tell [Zoë] Howe, [author of The Jesus & Mary Chain: Barbed Wire Kisses]. "William says I didn't get in because my shoes were too pointy."
On Pearl Jam:
JAMC spend the entire summer in North America as part of Lollapalooza. William remembers the tour, which featured Lush, Pearl Jam, Ministry, Ice Cube, Soundgarden and headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers as "the worst experience of our lives."
In the liner notes to the 2011 deluxe reissue of Honey's Dead, Jim recalls that "by the time the tour actually happened, Pearl Jam had something like the number one album in America — so there we were having to go on at two o'clock in the afternoon after fucking Pearl Jam! Their singer used to climb up on the PA stack like a fucking mountain goat and everybody would go bananas; then we'd walk out, stand there like miserable gits, play a few songs and watch everybody go and get bloody hotdogs and Pearl Jam T-shirts. That was week one for Christ's sake!
"We tried to get Pearl Jam to change positions with us but they didn't want to do it. We tried to get off the tour but couldn't, so we just had to knuckle down to it and get absolutely wasted for 12 weeks. We were the disgrace of the tour — everybody hated us and everybody hated our behaviour."
On their fans:
Their first show together in nine years is a pre-Coachella warmup gig the night before at the Glass House in Pomona, California. Coming out onstage, Jim Reid asks, "Happy we're back?" When the crowd cheers he responds with, "Fuck off."
Read more in the April issue of Exclaim!, available across Canada now.