The Jesus and Mary Chain Barbed Wire Disses
Published Mar 21, 2017A decade before the Gallagher brothers were making headlines for their sibling rivalry, William and Jim Reid had already established that the most dysfunctional families make the best music — and give the most outrageous sound bites.
Born in the frustrated and chaotic environment of a shared bedroom in the nowhere Glasgow suburb of East Kilbride, the Jesus and Mary Chain always thrived on instability. From the outset, the band — formed with friend Douglas Hart — sought to make their music using uncompromising standards. Influenced by the noise made by acts like the Velvet Underground and Einstürzende Neubauten, and the melodies made by the Beach Boys and '60s girl groups, JAMC united these two sides to produce an original, challenging and dangerous strain of rock'n'roll, and in doing so put together a complete package.
Their debut album, Psychocandy, became an instant classic at the time of its 1985 release, going on to become one of the most influential albums of the decade and a blueprint for many bands that followed. Early on, their live gigs were considered notoriously must-see events known for inciting riots, due to the Reids' insistence on delivering 15-minute sets of unbridled feedback. And their confrontational attitude and bravado made them kings of controversy in the UK press. Without the Mary Chain, alternative rock, shoegaze, Creation Records, Primal Scream and countless other bands (including Oasis) may never have happened.
After messy brotherly spat on stage ended the band in 1998, the Jesus and Mary Chain are now looking to broaden their saga with their long-awaited and appropriately titled seventh studio album, Damage and Joy.
1958 to 1976
William Adam Reid is born on October 28, 1958 in Glasgow, Scotland. His younger brother Jim is born three years later on December 29, 1961. After a break-in, the Reid family move eight miles southeast to the small, suburban town of East Kilbride, which they later describe as "the edge of the universe." Despite the three-year gap, the brothers are inseparable, sharing a bedroom in their family home from which they rarely leave. The Reid household gets its first turntable in 1971 and their older cousin lends them records by Bob Dylan and the Beatles. It's the UK's rising glam rock scene that first catches their attention, however. "We grew up watching Top of the Pops on TV," Jim will tell L.A. Record in 2015. "Watching David Bowie and Mark Bolan on [that program] we thought, 'That's what we want to do.'"
1977 to 1980
Punk rock explodes in the UK and the now-teenaged Reid brothers take an emphatic interest in the music and DIY culture. William will tell Pitchfork in 2009, "When we heard the Sex Pistols, it changed our whole attitude and philosophy. Before the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Ramones, I thought to be a musician you had to be as good as the Beatles or the [Rolling] Stones. Punk was a revelation to us — all you really needed was a cheap guitar, a couple of chords, and a good imagination." During Jim's karate class, his friend Ivor Wilson suggests they meet a school peer of his named Douglas Hart, whose schoolbooks are adorned with the names of bands they love. The Reids and the much younger Hart immediately bond over their shared love of music, film and literature, as well as their feeling of disaffection from the rest of East Kilbride.
"We were three freaks in a horrible town where people would literally shout at us on the street," Hart will later recall to Zoë Howe, author of The Jesus and Mary Chain: Barbed Wire Kisses. Jim Reid, Hart and Wilson form an upstart band with Edward Connelly (Meat Whiplash) to play punk covers at a local party; six kids attend. Wilson sells William Reid his first guitar for only £20, a Gretsch Tennessee that belonged to Wilson's father. Jim Reid tells Howe, "I think his dad kicked the shit out of him when he found out. But that was how we had at least one decent guitar." The Reids work various day jobs: William later reveals to The Face that he picked roaches out of Parmesan at a cheese factory and worked for a sheet metal manufacturer, while Jim worked at the Rolls-Royce aerospace factory.
In 1980 they give up their jobs to pursue their musical dream, much to their parents' disapproval. To get by, they sign up to receive welfare. "Having a band just seemed like something that other people did. It was punk that made you think, you know, what are the alternatives here? We could go and work in a factory, or we could start a punk band. But unfortunately me and William were both incredibly lazy. William bought a bass guitar that just sat in the corner for about five years." Out of work and struggling to live by his parents' rules, Jim flees to London to find work and lasts only six months before he returns home.
1981 to 1983
Jim Reid and Douglas Hart begin to spend every waking moment together, hanging out in an abandoned factory, taking mushrooms and acid, and planning to start the perfect band. Along with their biggest influence, the Velvet Underground, the Reids and Hart seek to make music that combines noise and melody. Jim will later tells Howe that the original dream was to sound like German industrial act Einstürzende Neubauten "but with a bubblegum song on top of it. Shangri-Las crossed with Neubauten."
Their dad gifts them £500 from his severance package after he is made redundant from his job as a heavy-machinery operator. He hopes they will purchase a car to get them to a job, but instead the brothers purchase a new Portastudio four-track recorder in order to make demos. Jim Reid and Hart officially form a band together and start working on songs, which include Reid's "Never Understand." They come up with the name the Poppy Seeds, and the Death of Joey is considered before they settle for the Daisy Chain.
Despite a burgeoning indie scene led by Postcard Records, the band are widely ignored. Jim and Hart submit a demo to Nick Lowe, who runs the Candy Club venue. Lowe hands a copy to Glasgow scenester Stephen McRobbie, leader of indie band the Pastels, who becomes a fan. At first the Reids are writing and recording songs apart, but soon realize how pointless that is. William joins the Daisy Chain, which is a shock to him. He'll later tell Pitchfork, "I didn't want to be in a band with my little brother, but when we started writing songs, we found they were so remarkably similar that it made sense."
Jim tries to get both Hart and William to take on lead vocals, but he loses the battle and is forced to take over. William will later tell Goldmine, "I was kind of the singer in the beginning, but when I sang, I kind of used my nasal voice, and Jim kind of uses his throat, like, really cool. And it was like, 'Okay, Jim, you've gotta be the singer,' and he was like, 'No, I won't do it.' And eventually everybody was like, 'Come on, you fucking bastard. You must do it.' So he reluctantly became the singer."
Jim will later recount to The Guardian how glad he is to have taken over the vocal duties. "It could have gone the other way," he says. "After a while I started to shag more girls than he did and he was like, 'I want to be the singer!' And I was like, 'Sorry, son, the coin doesn't lie.'" The Reids and Hart would absorb retro pop culture – film, music, books, fashion – and slowly give birth to the band's image of big hair and black leather.
A Glaswegian by the name of Bobby Gillespie, who fronts Primal Scream, receives a copy of the Daisy Chain's demo from his friend Lowe and falls in love with it. "I played it about six times. I thought it was fucking incredible," he'll tell Howe. Gillespie calls Hart and the two talk for three hours over their shared interests; at the end of their chat Gillespie mentions his friend Alan McGee, co-founder of Creation Records and member of Biff Bang Pow! The Daisy Chain send their demo to McGee, who likes it but recommends the band record in a studio so he can include a song of theirs on a compilation.
On Gillespie's insistence, McGee invites the band to play a gig in London at his club, the Living Room. Meanwhile, the Daisy Chain decide to drop their name and become the Jesus and Mary Chain. Originally they say a line from a Bing Crosby film inspired the name, but later deny that. Rumours circulate — like that they saw the words "a gold and Jesus and Mary chain" ad on the back of a cereal box — but no origin is ever confirmed. The name does go on to cause much confusion and controversy. William Reid later tells Interview Magazine, "I think it's tasteful. If you want to use the word Jesus and upset people, you'd call the band Jesus Erected or Jesus On A Stake. I'm always shocked when people say it's blasphemous simply to use the words Jesus and Mary."
In need of a drummer to perform with them in London, they post an ad in their local record store and attract a 16-year-old goth named Murray Dalglish, who gets the gig. The four-piece take a ten-hour bus ride to London and spend the day getting drunk and visiting the offices of NME. During sound check, the Reid brothers get into a fist fight and trade obscenities, which McGee thinks is fantastic. Only an audience of six are their to witness the Jesus and Mary Chain's debut gig, which includes three covers — Syd Barrett's "Vegetable Man," Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love" and Subway Sect's "Ambition" — but they come away with both a manager and a deal to release a single on Creation.
Two days later, the Jesus and Mary Chain play their second gig at Night Moves in Glasgow and are so drunk that they are not only kicked off stage by security after 15 minutes, but also kicked out of the venue. "I remember getting chucked down a flight of stairs," Jim will tell Howe. "It was the guy who ran it, he was going, 'You're useless! That's the last we'll ever hear of you fucking losers.' We had a few bruises, but it all added to the legend, I suppose." One person who left the show wanting more was Gillespie, who tells Hart, "That was the fucking best thing I've ever seen in my life!"
The band play a few more gigs before entering Alaska Studio in London to record. They break into the Pastels' equipment cage and "borrow" some gear. With McGee and his Creation partner Joe Foster behind the boards, they record "Upside Down" and a cover of Syd Barrett's "Vegetable Man" with the distortion turned up to maximum volume, with extra feedback added during mixing. McGee is so excited about the finished product that he buys an overnight bus ticket to travel back to Glasgow from London just to play it for super-fan Gillespie.
Creation puts together a tour across Germany showcasing its roster that includes Biff Bang Pow!, the Jasmine Minks and the Mary Chain, who'd never left the UK before. Unsure of his future, the 16-year-old Dalglish, who played a bit of an outsider role in the band, decides to quit and pursue an apprenticeship. Gillespie, who previously roadied for Altered Images and played bass in the Wake, takes over on drums while remaining lead singer for Primal Scream.
On a 1987 interview picture disc, the band will explain how they hired Gillespie: "We needed a drummer, [so] we says, 'Bobby, will ye drum?' Bobby says, 'I kennae drum.' We says, 'That's good, you're qualified!'" To keep it simple and pay homage to Velvet Underground's Moe Tucker, Gillespie strips the drums back by playing only a floor tom and snare. His first gig with the band is at the Venue on a night that features performances with both the Mary Chain and Primal Scream.
Before the German tour, the Mary Chain record their first of many "Peel Sessions" at John Peel's Maida Vale studio in London, however producers and engineers do not allow them to perform the way they want. They also perform a short gig at the Three Johns, and approximately 20 people attend. The NME's Neil Taylor reviews the show and calls them the best band since Joy Division. Creation releases the Jesus and Mary Chain's debut single, "Upside Down." It enters the indie chart at number 34 and after represses it goes on to sell more than 45,000 copies and reach number one in February 1985.
The band play a highly touted gig at the Ambulance Station in London; in attendance are Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Robert Forster and Rough Trade's Geoff Travis, who ends up signing the Jesus and Mary Chain to Blanco y Negro, the Warner subsidiary imprint he runs with Mike Always from Cherry Red. Before they are offered a deal, the band are confident that their terms will be met. "We had expectations we were going to be the Beatles or the Stones, so you have to go big," William will tell The Guardian in 2014. "We had huge balls."
During a drunken visit to the Warner office in London, the band deface a Rod Stewart poster, drawing a moustache on the singer's face. Hart also destroys a number of gold, silver and platinum records as well as the wall they're hanging from. They also admit to stealing the wallet of Warner Chairman Rob Dickins, which the tabloid papers report. The band's relationship with the label never improves. One exec describes them to The Face's Max Bell as "one of the most revolting and disgusting groups I've ever seen."
In 2015, Jim will tell L.A. Record, "That was the biggest mistake we made of our careers, to sign to Warner Brothers Records… We wanted to be like T. Rex, we wanted to be David Bowie, and we thought you had to go through a major label to get to that. Boy, were we wrong. It was never going to happen. We just existed in the wrong decade for that kind of pop stardom. We did all right, but it was a constant struggle. Those people at Warner Brothers didn't have a clue about what we were trying to do. They were selling music the way other people sell cheeseburgers. We didn't quite see it that way."
Against the band's wishes, McGee begins planting fake rumours of them getting into trouble, like an arrest for speed possession and smashing up Capital Radio, which the music press picks up. The Jesus and Mary Chain end the year with a legendary concert at the ICA in London. According to McGee, "They went on for 15 minutes, made a noise, I don't know if they even completed a song. Jim called the entire audience cunts. They all got upset."
The band move to London in January, save Gillespie, who remains in Glasgow to keep working with Primal Scream. At Travis's suggestion, the band enter Island Studios to record a new single, "Never Understand," with Stephen Street, best known for his work with the Smiths. It does not go well.
"He was disgusted," Hart will tell Howe. "He was shocked that I only had two strings on my bass and we couldn't really tune up by ear; it was a bit of a clash. We stopped after a day. He's a good producer, but not to do us at that point." They try Stephen Hague as well, but end up recording it by themselves at John Loder's Southern Studios, which is essentially a garden shed. "Southern Studios… was just fabulous because John Loder was there," Jim will later tell The Quietus. "He was the opposite of those other engineers; he was actually egging us on to go further. His attitude was to set the desk up and then go away. He'd just go to office and do his work. He'd have an intercom and he'd say, 'If you have problems, just buzz me and I'll come down and help you out.' He did what was needed and he left us to our own devices."
Released in February, "Never Understand" reaches number 47 on the UK singles chart. The B-side is scheduled to be "Jesus Fuck," but it is aborted in favour for the less controversial "Suck." In an interview with the NME, Jim tells Mat Snow, "'Jesus Fuck' was downright repulsion at how sacred the name Jesus was. People seriously think this little group making an obscure little record called 'Jesus Fuck' is going to do any harm?"
The band play a gig in Brighton to promote the new single and are repeatedly struck by flying bottles. They retaliate by throwing the bottles back at the crowd. During a TV appearance in Belgium, the band are asked about the comparisons to Joy Division. Jim 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."
The band are also asked to smash the set and their equipment during their live performance, which they agree to do. After this, 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.'" About their heroes, the Stooges: "After us, the perfect record is 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' by the Stooges, but the horrible guitar solo fucks it up." 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."
As the media runs wild with stories about the band, it reaches a fever pitch during a gig at North London Polytechnic in March. With the venue already at capacity, Gillespie and Hart open the fire doors and let in the hundreds waiting outside without tickets. Chaos ensues during the band's 20-minute performance: bottles are thrown, Jim Reid is pulled off stage by a spectator, Gillespie throws his drums into the crowd and the police arrive just as it becomes a full-on riot. The band retreat to their dressing room where they're forced to barricade themselves after an angry mob tries to break down the door. Hart will tell Howe, "There were people smashing the door with fire extinguishers. It was beyond funny, it was brutal."
Once the dust settles, the band grant an interview to Daniel Richler of The New Music and flaunt their bravado. When asked why people are so excited for them, Jim answers, "Because we're so good. Because we're so much better than everyone else. So many people are complete rubbish. It's pretty obvious, really." Hart is asked about his bass only having two strings, to which he answers, "That's the two I use. What's the fucking point spending money on another two? Two is enough. It's adequate. Anyone can play this bass."
Because of his involvement with the band, Creation's Joe Foster is fired from his teaching position at the school. After the gig, McGee starts hyping up the danger that will ensue at Mary Chain gigs, calling their performances "art as terrorism." "After that, you had to come to a Mary Chain gig with a baseball bat," Jim will later tell The Guardian. "The notoriety did sort of… spiral, and we had to nip it in the bud."
While attending a Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds concert in Hammersmith, Jim is attacked by five guys. "I think it was actually one of the guys who had caused trouble at North London Poly," he says in the liner notes to the 2011 deluxe reissue of Psychocandy. "I turned round to try and get William and Douglas and one of his mates must have thought, "Let's not do that," and they just pounced and kicked the living shit out of me."
In April, the band travel to New York City for the first time where they perform gigs at the Danceteria. Thinking the Mary Chain live up to their reputation, the Warner executive sent to meet the band arrives with two prostitutes for the band.
Upon their return to the UK, they head back to Southern Studios to begin recording their debut album and do it completely sober. "Lots of tea and Wimpy [burgers], not speed and alcohol," Hart will tell The Guardian in 2014. Although the overall experience is considered a pleasant one, the Reid brothers can't resist the temptation to fight. "I threw William against a door and knocked it off its hinges," Jim will tell Howe.
During a Scandinavian tour, William starts to become unravelled. When the band play Copenhagen, he becomes abusive in his drunken state and calls the crowd "bacon-eating bastards." In Helsinki he kicks flowerpots sitting at the edge of the stage into the mosh pit. For their UK shows, McGee hires former SAS bodyguards to try and prevent violence from erupting at the gigs. They don't last very long. During a show at Camden's Electric Ballroom, the crowd gets restless when the band wait an extra 90 minutes to go on stage. Again they play for only 15 minutes and violence breaks out. One bodyguard is knocked out by a scaffolding pole, a bouncer has his head cut open and once the show is over, fans begin to pilfer the band's equipment from the stage.
Psychocandy is completed in just six weeks for a modest budget of £17,000. "We weren't aiming for a record that comes out in 1985 and then be forgotten in 1990," Jim will tell The Quietus in 2011. "We wanted to make a record that, if you heard it 25 years later, it wouldn't sound like a 25-year-old record. And if it appealed to little spotty anoraks in their bedrooms like we were, that was good enough for us. And if there were kids scattered around the place and hearing that record and thinking, 'I can do that!' and they start a band then the record's successful."
Once the album is finished everyone involved loves it, with the exception of Warner, who are more puzzled about what they're hearing. "Dear Rob Dickins, he thought there was something wrong with it," Travis will tell Howe. The album is released on November 18 to widespread praise. The NME's Andy Gill calls it "easily the best album released this year, a great citadel of beauty whose wall of noise, once scaled, offers access to endless vistas of melody and emotion." Psychocandy even makes a dent on the UK albums chart, reaching a respectable number 31.
1986 to 1987
The year kicks off with the Reids and Hart giving Gillespie an ultimatum: quit Primal Scream or leave the Jesus and Mary Chain. He chooses the former. In 2010 he'll tell Uncut, "It was heartbreaking. They asked me to leave Primal Scream and be their drummer. And I couldn't do it. Because I knew that I'd have a limited lifespan being a drummer, because I wasn't one. So I stuck with Primal Scream. I had more fun being in the Mary Chain at that point. They were a better band, better people, better fun. I'd go round the world with them, playing Psychocandy. Our band was still starting out. Shitty rehearsal rooms, shitty gigs, shitty little record on Creation. I was playing drums in a classic rock'n'roll band. I was in ecstasy. In retrospect it looks brave to leave. But I had no choice. I'd maybe have had one more year in Mary Chain — the best year of my life. After that, they'd have wanted a real drummer. They replaced me with a drum machine, which was good."
Gillespie's final recording with the band is the Some Candy Talking EP, which is released in July. Produced by Flood and Alan Moulder, the sessions prove difficult for the band, who were used to producing their own work. Moulder will tell Howe, "I just kept supplying cups of tea and chocolate biscuits, which seemed to cheer them up. They were picky about everything, be it music, sound or food. They were funny once they relaxed a bit."
The NME reports that Gillespie is leaving the band. When JAMC fan John Moore learns of this, he begins to stalk the band, taking a train up from Reading to Glasgow to East Kilbride to beg them for the opportunity. After fate intervenes, Moore meets the Reids at a Sonic Youth concert and within days he is given the job, just as they're about to embark on a U.S. tour. Moore meets Gillespie at a rehearsal, to which the outgoing drummer tells him, "It's not really that difficult. The main thing you've got to do is duck when the bottles start flying."
They release Some Candy Talking in July; the title track reaches number 13 on the UK singles chart. Not long after they decide to find a new manager. They meet McGee at a Wendy's to break the bad news. "They wanted rock'n'roll management," McGee will tell Howe. "I was haphazard, mental management. It kicked me in the balls when I got the sack, but it was the best thing that ever happened to Creation Records. It made me go out and find the House of Love and the Valentines, Ride, break the Primals, find Oasis…"
The BBC bans "Some Candy Talking" after they decide it glamorizes heroin use. Speaking to Time Out in 2015, Jim Reid will say, "The BBC banned 'Some Candy Talking' because [they] thought the song was about drugs, which funnily enough is our only song not about drugs. Well, they were gonna ban it, but instead they just didn't play it. We were really hoping they [would ban it] because then it woulda sold shitloads of copies. Ironically, the original was recorded as a 'Peel Session,' so you could even say that the BBC commissioned it in the first place."
Moore moves to guitar, and they bring in James Pinker, who's played with Dead Can Dance, to temporarily fill in on drums. After a proper search for a permanent drummer, they decide to just use a drum machine.
1987 to 1988
They begin working on their next album, but make one thing clear from the outset: melodies would trump the noise this time around. "I think Psychocandy has a lot of great songs on it," William will tell Pitchfork in 2009. "But no one ever really talked about the songs." Dickins pressures the band to work with a proper producer, and he suggests Tears For Fears producer Chris Hughes, along with their keyboardist Ian Stanley. The band travel to Hughes's house studio in Bath and work on new songs for a week.
One night, while working on "Darklands," the band are frustrated and head to bed while Hughes and Stanley stay up to complete the song. In the morning, they excitedly play it for the band. "They'd spent hours putting a double bass on it," Jim will write in the liner notes to the 2011 deluxe reissue of Darklands. "Me and William looked at each other and just burst out laughing. They were utterly gutted, just devastated and that was the end of it. We got back home and Rob Dickins calls us up and goes, 'You're fucking losers. You had world class producers and you laughed at them.' Just basically saying 'you're never gonna happen.'"
They decide instead to work with Bill Price, who recorded Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols and work with the Clash at his Wessex Studios. The result is single "April Skies," which comes out in April. The song reaches number eight in the UK singles chart, which means the band get to live out their dream of appearing on Top Of the Pops. They appear on the show drunk and obstinate, and as a result receive a lifetime ban from the show.
Jim will later tell Thrasher, "Well, you kind of sit around all day waiting, and the Mary Chain were never really good at sitting around, so yeah—we got quite drunk. We didn't do anything. Nothing got destroyed and nobody got insulted, but the fact that we got drunk on the BBC premises was enough to cause an upset anyway."
Months later the U.S. version of the show refuses to play their music video after objecting to the band's "sacrilegious moniker." CBS requests the band go by the name the J & M Chain, but the Reids refuse, complaining that name sounds too much like "a discount shoe store." After hearing Travis play "April Skies" in his office, Warner exec Jerry Jaffe — who discovered Bon Jovi — comes running in to ask who it is. Despite once claiming that the Mary Chain were "the worst band I had ever seen in my life," Jaffe, along with Chris Morrison, become the band's managers.
Darklands is released on August 31 and reaches number five in the UK albums chart. It receives strong reviews while fans and critics wonder where all of the feedback went. In the liner notes to the 2011 deluxe reissue, William will write, "I don't think Darklands is a better album than Psychocandy but it's as good. Darklands is what we were trying to do in 1987, it's as simple as that. The way we approached Darklands was as though the group had split up and started again. It sounds as fresh as Psychocandy but in a different way."
They get into trouble with another television appearance, this time on ITV's The Roxy, for not miming convincingly during their performance of "Happy When It Rains."
The band head to North America for a tour and in Detroit two of Jim's guitars, including his beloved Vox Phantom, are stolen. On their way to New York City, they realize that not only were they robbed, they were left a gift. "We were driving to New York, and there was this horrible stench in the van," Jim will tell Howe. "We get to New York and start unloading the gear, and there's half a pig's head in the bass drum. The guys took the guitars and left us with that."
Things get worse for the band during a show at the RPM in Toronto. One heckler repeatedly calls Jim a "cocksucker" throughout the set. Jim will tell Howe, "I remember stepping to the side of the stage and saying to security, 'If you don't get rid of him, something's going to happen.' Nobody did, so it just got to a breaking point. I hit him over the head with the mic stand." He also allegedly slashes another spectator's arm. After the gig, the band are prevented from leaving the venue and the promoter calls the police, who arrest Jim for assault. He spends the night in a jail cell before he's bailed out. Three months later he returns to Toronto for a two-hour trial. He is forced to apologize to the complainants, donate £500 to a Salvation Army charity, and sign some Jesus and Mary Chain records for the judge's daughter.
In March they release a new one-off single called "Sidewalking" that samples the beat from a hip-hop track called "Roxanne's Revenge" by Roxanne Shante. When William is asked by RAM journalist Steve Sutherland about the press and public not liking the song's new direction, he replies, "If they don't like it, I'll be utterly pissed off and my view of the public taste will go even lower." The single appeases both the public and press, and reaches number 30 on the UK singles chart. A month later it appears on a compilation called Barbed Wire Kisses (B-Sides and More). Jim tells The Scotsman, "We reached the point where we thought that we were accumulating too many good B-sides. We consider B-sides not to be B-songs, if you know what I mean. Some of our best moments were actually on the B-sides. We figured that it would be a shame to let them disappear as some obscurity on a deleted single." Ironically, the album reaches number eight, their best showing yet on the UK albums chart.
After the band finish touring Darklands, Moore leaves in order to pursue his own music. Dave Evans, who had played with Biff Bang Pow! and roadied for both the Mary Chain and the Shop Assistants, takes over on guitar. Band members begin to take an interest in the acid house craze. Both William and Hart begin producing dance music in their spare time. Hart teams up with Peter "Pinko" Fowler under the name Acid Angels to release a one-off single, "Speed Speed Ecstasy," which samples Donna Summer's "I Feel Love." During an Australasian tour, gigs in New Zealand are inexplicably protested after two goths died in an unrelated suicide pact; the two shows go ahead as planned, however.
The band travel to San Diego and open for their hero, Iggy Pop. An argument ensues with Iggy's crew after the band are only permitted ten minutes to sound-check. The Mary Chain are told they can only use a portion of the stage, which pisses off William, who then spits on Iggy's stage mat. During their performance, Jim begins wrecking Iggy's onstage gear, kicking the monitors into the pit. Afterwards, the band immediately flee out the fire door into their van to avoid Iggy's crew, who are waiting with baseball bats.
1989 to 1990
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."
The band head into Sam Therapy in West London to begin working on the album, using the experiments they did with "Sidewalking" as the starting point. Again the Reids self-produce the record, taking on all of work themselves, including programming a sequenced bass instead of using Hart. Although most of the album finds them utilizing a drum machine, ""Gimme Hell" features drums by Richard Thomas, formerly of Dif Juz, who joins the band as their touring drummer.
Automatic is released on October 9, 1989, and although it reaches number 11 in the UK albums chart, the album isn't strongly embraced in the UK, which is dominated by acid house and baggy indie music. Jim will later tell Pitchfork, "By the time we released Automatic, the whole Manchester thing happened, and we didn't fit what was going on [in the UK]. It was alarming how quickly we were marginalized." Automatic is a hit in the U.S., which is fitting since William describes Automatic as both their "driving across America" album and "a compromise to get on American radio." The album's singles "Blues From A Gun" and "Head On" (covered by Pixies in 1991) are both hits on U.S. modern rock radio.
In an interview with Spin, Jim defends the band's reputation. "People keep accusing us of being gloomy bastards, but I think the new album sounds very uplifting." In the same interview, he takes shots at all of his musical heroes. "I've met Iggy Pop, and the guy's a sad old pathetic shit," he says. "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.' 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."
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 Howe. "William says I didn't get in because my shoes were too pointy. So, somewhere in between the two…"
The band head off on an epic tour of the U.S. with Nine Inch Nails as support. According to Jaffe, the Reids had no opinion of their opening act. "I sent the records to Jim and William. They couldn't care less: 'Hey, you like them? Fine.' Couldn't give a shit," he'll tell Howe. Reznor, however, saw the Mary Chain as a key influence, telling Uncut in 2005, "I learnt a lot from Jesus and Mary Chain about how to bury nice pop songs in unlistenable noise — the idea being if you can get behind that wall, you find there's a pearl inside."
The band release a new EP called Rollercoaster that includes a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Tower of Song"; the title track reveals a dance beat, which the band admits came from the popularity of Manchester's baggy scene. After their three-month U.S. tour, the band head to Japan and nearly break up when they play Tokyo. A major rift occurs between Jim and William, and they have a huge argument before the gig. "I don't even remember what it was about," Jim will tell Howe. "But it got to a point where things were said that couldn't be taken back. That was our first major breakup. For a few weeks, the Mary Chain didn't exist." Although many in the band's camp felt it was over, the two brothers make up during a phone call on Christmas Day.
1991 to 1992
As they begin working on a new album, the Reids decide it's time to relieve Hart of bass duties, seeing as he had not been a part of the recording process since Psychocandy. Hart, who began directing music videos for My Bloody Valentine and eventually Primal Scream, Pet Shop Boys and Stone Roses, understood the decision. "I was their first fan, so to be a kid and to be playing in your favourite group for eight years… not fucking bad!" he tells Howe.
The band buy a studio in London they call "the Drugstore," so they can save money on recording. They bring in Alan Moulder to assist them with engineering and mixing. Steve Monti of Curve is also brought in to play drums. The first song to be released is "Reverence," which charts at number ten when it's released in February 1992, despite some stores such as Woolworths refusing to sell it. Because of its controversial lyrics - "I wanna die just like JFK, I wanna die in the USA…I wanna die just like Jesus Christ, I wanna die on a bed of spikes" – the Mary Chain are also not permitted to perform the song on Top of the Pops and the BBC refuses to play it.
Jim later explains to Thrasher, "The thing about that is it's a bit of a joke; the idea of Mary Chain being banned from the BBC. The BBC never played our records anyway. So basically they banned "Reverence" and didn't play our records. It was business as usual, really." And William denies the lyrics were intentionally blasphemous while talking to Interview. "To me, 'blasphemous' means to show disrespect, even hatred towards God. I've never felt that way… Another thing these middle-class Bible-thumpers forget is that Jesus was a man. Jesus maybe had an affair with Mary Magdalene. I mean, Jesus had a hard-on, Jesus was flesh and blood and bones."
Described by Jim as "the last sober album," Honey's Dead is released on March 23, 1992 and reaches number 14 on the UK albums chart. William tells Select that the title is an attempt to distance themselves from the past. "People who've heard the album say it sounds like us but it's very different, which is what we were aiming for," he says. "It's called Honey's Dead, a reference to 'Just Like Honey' — the idea that the old Mary Chain has been left behind and we've moved on."
In the liner notes to the 2011 deluxe reissue, Jim says about the album, "With Honey's Dead the idea was to do a rock'n'roll record but with the latest technology. The idea with the guitar loops was from this thing we liked about stuff like Public Enemy where they'd have one bit of guitar like a noise loop repeating throughout the track."
To promote the album, the band co-headline the two-week-long Rollercoaster Tour with My Bloody Valentine across 11 cities in the UK. The tour, which also features Dinosaur Jr. and Blur, is modelled after Lollapalooza in the U.S. (It would be the last performances by My Bloody Valentine until 2008). William explains the tour to Select: "Basically we thought a tour like this would be more exciting, both for the audience and for ourselves. We chose bands which we thought would offer diversity for the audience. I suppose My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Jr. have pretty much the same audience as us. Not so much Blur, perhaps. Maybe there'll be people who come to see them and find the other three bands really good too."
When they reach the U.S. the Mary Chain perform on The Late Show with David Letterman, which they do with massive hangovers. They're so out of it that after the song they leave Letterman hanging when he goes to shake their hands. The Mary Chain spend the entire summer in North America as part of Lollapalooza, the travelling music festival organized by Perry Farrell. 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."
One good thing does occur during the extensive tour: Rick Rubin notices the band. Rubin even recommends to Jaffe that the band play a 45-minute, feedback-driven version of "Reverence" to the indifferent crowd. The band don't take the advice, but they do sign on with Rubin to release their next album through his American Recordings imprint. Miserable on the tour, the Reid brothers begin squabbling more than usual. William is in such a bad mood that when someone in Ice Cube's crew soaks him with a water gun, he tries to pick a fight with them. Instead of revenge he gets bottled and bloodied. After learning Ice Cube and company are allegedly packing weapons on their bus, William backs off.
Sick of being drunk, when the band return home, Jim and Lurie begin snorting cocaine regularly, while William delves deeper into his newfound love for marijuana. Honey's Dead is nominated for the inaugural Mercury Music Prize, but in an ironic twist lose out to Bobby Gillespie and Primal Scream for their album, Screamadelica.
They return to North America in October for the U.S. version of the Rollercoaster Tour, which the headline over support from Curve and Spiritualized. William explains to Select that it's just like any other tour. "We didn't want Rollercoaster to become like Lollapalooza, every fuckin' year," he says with a sigh. "No thank you. We don't want it to become an international institution. This is just a bunch of bands touring together – that's the way I see it. If we'd called it Shindig, it'd still be the same."
Before a flight from New York to Philadelphia, William is holding a large bag of weed, which he has no interest in leaving behind. Instead of trying to smuggle it he smokes the entire thing before boarding. During the flight he falls asleep and wakes up screaming "fire!" Lurie tells Howe, "He'd woken up in a semi-stoned psychotic state and they were showing a news story on the screen – Windsor Castle had had a fire." William receives only but a firm warning from the flight attendant.
1993 to 1994
The Reids begin the year in the Drugstore recording a much quieter album. Along with Moulder and Dick Meaney behind the boards, Lurie and Monti are invited to play bass and drums, respectively, marking the first time since Psychocandy that a Mary Chain album features musicians besides the Reids. During this period, William dives "headlong into fucking degeneracy," as he calls it to Uncut.
He begins seeing Hope Sandoval, singer of Mazzy Star, after she collaborates with the band on a Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra-inspired ballad called "Sometimes Always," which is originally supposed to feature Hazelwood on vocals. The affair ends a nine-year relationship with his girlfriend, Rona. Years later he tells Goldmine, "I was in love with Hope, but it was the unhappiest time in my life. It was like horrible, horrible, horrible."
In July 1993 they release an EP titled Sound of Speed, featuring the single "Snakedriver," followed by another B-sides compilation confusingly titled The Speed of Sound, which reaches a respectable number 15 on the UK albums chart. They finally finish their album in November, citing nervous breakdowns, exhaustion, depression and loss of faith in themselves as causing the delay. William tells Melody Maker, "Me and Jim were going to go into the studio and make a record in four weeks, an acoustic record. We had all the songs that sounded as if they could work acoustically. We kept playing more and more stuff, but then it started to feel like we were compromising it, like we were in danger of making an acoustic record just 'cause we'd told everybody we were… It kinda changed from conception to birth. It just became a different record. I don't know what inspired it. We've left ourselves open for people to say 'They've softened' and all that crap. This record doesn't sound like Ministry, but we know it's a good record."
Stoned & Dethroned is released on August 15, 1994 and reaches number 13 on the UK albums chart. Although the working title of the record is reportedly, Psychocandy II, they instead decide went with Stoned & Dethroned, because as Jim later tells Penny Black Music, the title "described the way that the band was at that time. It felt like nobody seemed to be interested in the Mary Chain anymore. We were once up and then were down and were all fucking wasted and fucked up." Along with Sandoval, the album also features a guest appearance by the Pogues' Shane McGowan on "God Help Me."
The Reids sack Morrison as their manager, after he appears more committed to his other band, Blur, who are thriving as Britpop's poster children. They decide not to replace him. The Mary Chain conveniently tour North America with Mazzy Star as the support act, but it gets off to a bad start when Monti threatens to leave the band over William's abusive behaviour. It reaches a fever pitch in Los Angeles, Sandoval's hometown, when William runs off and arrives late for their set, then proceeds to get drunk before he will take the stage. The two exchange insults during the gig, but any sort of crisis is averted.
1995 to 1997
The Mary Chain get right to work on new material, with new member Nick Sanderson of Earl Brutus and formerly the Gun Club replacing Steve Monti on drums. Session musician Terry Edwards, who recorded a tribute EP in 1991 called Terry Edwards Plays the Music of Jim and William Reid, also joins the band to provide horns. William writes a scathing song aimed at the music industry called "I Hate Rock'n'Roll," which is released as a single in May that precedes yet another B-sides album in September with the similar title of The Jesus and Mary Chain Hate Rock'n'Roll. The song goes for the jugular, calling out both the BBC and MTV, who they claim were always "pissing" and "shitting" on them, respectively.
In an interview with Melody Maker, William explains, "It's not really about rock'n'roll, It's about the rock'n'roll business. It's fucked with my soul. It's fucked with me since day one. I'm disenchanted, disillusioned, disenfranchised, disengaged, disconnected. I think when you're 14 and want to go on Top of the Pops, you're seeing everything as... poetry. Being in a band, making music. Then when you get there, you see it in all its... tat. And that's what the music business is, it's tatty. It's fine if you're willing to be produced, but it's not so nice a place when you genuinely believe that rock'n'roll isn't just rock'n'roll, that it's an art form."
The compilation fulfills the band's contract with Blanco y Negro. Jim writes a direct response to the song called "I Love Rock'n'Roll," which pisses William off. In the liner notes to the 2011 deluxe reissue of Munki, Jim says, "He hates 'I Love Rock'n'Roll' and he hates the fact that I wrote it. I know it annoys the shit out of him – he's convinced I only wrote it to wind him up! Which is partly true… but honestly, I think 'I Hate Rock'n'Roll' is one of the best Mary Chain songs there is, but I just felt it was half the story."
Communication between the Reid brothers reaches a complete and total breakdown. They would each arrive to the studio when the other wasn't there. Thankfully their sister Linda, who sings vocals on a track the album called "Moe Tucker," manages to play peacemaker. Somehow they manage to concurrently work on the album together. They play some songs for Geoff Travis but he rejects them.
Travis tells Howe, "Speaking personally, I don't think Munki was a very good record, and so we said, 'No, thank you.'" Rob Dickins is a little more receptive, and recommends that they go back and record some singles. William writes "Cracking Up," while Jim writes "Moe Tucker," featuring Linda Reid as Sister Vanilla on lead vocals. Work with their younger sister continues, as they assist in the making of a Sister Vanilla album. The band finish the album in the summer of 1997, but Dickins isn't behind it.
According to Jim in the reissue's liner notes, "He said, 'We'll put it out if you want us to, but you don't really want us to. Nobody's into it, we'll stick it out and do nothing. Go and get someone who wants to release it.'" William tells Pitchfork in 2009, "They didn't think there was a single on it and if they accepted it, they were going to have to pay, I don't know, $700,000 or something. It was a big shitload of money – so they either had to accept the record and give us [that] shitload of money or tell us to fuck off. They told us to fuck off."
In the meantime, both Reid brothers had side-projects on the go. William worked on both as a solo artist and as Lazycame, while Jim and Ben Lurie recorded as TV69. Unsure of what to do with the record, the Mary Chain make sure Alan McGee hears the record. He does and he agrees to release it on Creation. (Sub Pop picks it up for North America.) "Alan loves the record," Jim tells Q. "He's very encouraging, which is gratifying after everything we've been through. And I'm finding that just being appreciated is enough now. That's what keeps us together, keeps us recording. That raging ambition has all but disappeared now. I'm happy with what I'm doing."
Munki is released on June 1, 1998 and confuses a lot of its listeners. As a result, it reaches only number 47 on the UK albums chart, the first time an album of theirs fails to make the Top 40. The album is divided down the middle of William and Jim songs and lacks a sense of cohesion. And that bizarre album title? Jim tells The Herald, "We wanted a title that was un-Mary Chain-ish, something that would make people think: 'That's weird, you wouldn't expect that from them.' We wanted something that would pigeonhole us less as dark, brooding, miserable, rain-drenched – all the things we're usually seen as. Munki is simply a meaningless word our younger sister, Linda, thought of."
Although at this point William and Hope Sandoval are no longer together, she makes a guest appearance on a very perplexing track called "Perfume." During a promotional trip to the U.S., William is arrested in New York City for reportedly "abusing a policeman."
When they arrive back home they switch the lineup around, moving Ben Lurie to guitar and bringing in Phil King, formerly of Lush, to play bass. Upon their return to the U.S., William is again arrested for a run-in with a police officer in Los Angeles and spends the night in jail. "William got absolutely wasted, I think," Jim tells L.A. Record. "He got chucked in the drunk tank because he was drunk and disorderly."
The band play a bizarre acoustic gig at the Garage in L.A. for a club night hosted by local transgender celeb Dr. Vaginal Davis. Afterwards, she calls them up on stage and offers to give them oral sex. According to Q writer Nick Duerden, she yells, "So you boys come on up here and let me slurp on your cheeses! I'm not budging until you lovely Scottish boys come back up here and toss my caber! Come on you boys, you beautiful, beautiful boys!" The DJ begins to play Ashford & Simpson's "Solid" to which the crowd chants, "Solid as my cock." The band, however, do not participate.
They return to Europe to play some festivals, followed by the Meltdown Festival in London, which is curated by John Peel. Their set features guest appearances by Terry Edwards, My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields, Lush's Emma Anderson, Primal Scream's Andrew Innes, as well as former JAMC drummer Bobby Gillespie, who duets with Jim on "Sometimes Always."
The Mary Chain unwisely return to the U.S. to play some more shows. While driving from San Diego to Los Angeles, Ben and William get into a physical altercation with Jim asleep in between them. Their tour manager successfully pulls the van over and breaks it up. "It was like a schoolteacher with naughty children," King tells Howe. "I remember the lighting guy was actually on the phone after it all went off trying to get another job."
When they arrive in L.A., William announces that their show at the House of Blues will be his last. Ben and Jim spend the next 24 hours getting wasted on cocaine and champagne. "By the time the show came I was legless – I literally could not stand up," Jim recounts in the reissue's liner notes. "Somebody lifted me out to the stage and I just stumbled around. I remember screaming abuse at William as if was just me and him in a room by ourselves, and turning around and noticing there was an audience there. I don't know if we even played any songs. I don't remember trying to play music."
The band did try to play about a half-dozen songs but after Jim refused to co-operate, King and Sanderson quit playing and walk off stage. Backstage they discover that the fridge containing all of the alcohol is locked and the crowd out front is tearing the curtain down and throwing objects. The show's promoter is forced to issue refunds.
Immediately afterwards, William boards a flight to Seattle to be with his girlfriend, while the remaining band members continue on to Orange County. Their show and first without William is at a San Juan Capistrano supper club. "Who thought to book the Mary Chain there I have no idea, and that it just happened to be the first gig without William was rather unfortunate to say the very least. All these people sat at tables eating their lobster dinner and stuff — it was mental."
When it comes time to play "Cracking Up" and "I Hate Rock'n'Roll," they skip the two William songs and play a 15-minute version of "Reverence" to fulfill their contract. Jim tells Uncut in 2001, "I carried on and finished the tour, which was bloody awful because we were standing on stage as the Mary Chain, but I looked to my left and that big sort of fucking moptop wasn't there. It was weird."
Some promoters choose to cancel the remaining gigs without William's involvement. On the final night of the tour in Providence, Rhode Island, the promoter vanishes and the band reportedly end up getting into a fist fight with the cast of Riverdance in the hotel bar.
1999 to 2006
The Jesus and Mary Chain finally confirm their breakup to the NME in October, one year after band last play. The next month William Reid releases his first work under the name Lazycame, a mini-LP titled Taster through his own Hot Tam label. He follows that up with a CD of songs called Saturday the Fourteenth in 2000, and a more developed album, Finbegin, in 2001. Although he tries to assemble a live band with Nick Sanderson and Ben Lurie, that fails to develop into anything. William then decides to move to Los Angeles where he sobers up and starts a family with his wife Dawn.
Jim Reid's band TV69 doesn't go anywhere, so he regroups and then forms Freeheat in London with Lurie, Sanderson and Sanderson's wife, Romi Mori, who also played in the Gun Club. The band is heavily influenced by its substance abuse. In 2000 they release their debut, an EP titled Don't Worry, Be Happy, which they eventually sign the rights of over to a promoter following a disastrous first U.S. tour. Another EP titled Retox follows in 2001, but it fails to do anything.
In the Munki reissue liner notes Jim encapsulates Freeheat by saying, "I don't know how seriously we took that band. It seemed to me that it was just an excuse to get people to pay us to drink. We went to America twice and nobody came — hahaha!"
In 2002, Rhino releases a career-spanning compilation called 21 Singles, containing all of the band's commercially released singles in chronological order.
"Just Like Honey" appears in Sofia Coppola's Oscar-nominated film, Lost In Translation, as well as the soundtrack. film Both William and Jim begin performing solo gigs separately, but begin to work together on their sister's Sister Vanilla album. In the Munki deluxe reissue liner notes Jim explains, "I suppose [the album] helped a bit in healing the relationship between me and William in that we collaborated on a couple of the songs on it, and I went to Los Angeles with Linda to record some vocals. It kind of helped to get us back on reasonable terms again."
Jim plays one particularly bad, drunken solo gig in 2005, then decides to give up alcohol after his wife Julie offers him an ultimatum. Jim and Julie record a seven-inch single called "Song for a Secret," which is released along with a Sister Vanilla song co-written by William. The single leads to a new band for Jim featuring Phil King, guitarist Mark Crozer and Loz Colbert, formerly of Ride. Rhino reissues the Mary Chain's first five studio albums as deluxe editions. Jim is approached by the organizers for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival about his band playing in 2007, but discussions quickly snowball into a Jesus and Mary Chain reunion.
2007 to 2013
On January 22, it is announced that the Reid brothers will reunite to play Coachella as the Jesus and Mary Chain. Their manager Kevin Oberlin tells Billboard, "I originally started working on both Jim's and William's solo albums, and when I approached Goldenvoice about getting Jim a solo gig at Coachella, they came back with an offer for the Jesus and Mary Chain. We thought having the band reunite for Coachella would help set up both of their solo albums, but the very next day after the show, Jim and William did an interview and said that they were going to do a new Mary Chain album."
Their first show together in nine years is a pre-Coachella warm-up gig the night before at the Glass House in Pomona, California. Coming out on stage, Jim Reid asks, "Happy we're back?" When the crowd cheers he responds with, "Fuck off." The next night they perform at Coachella and make headlines when actress Scarlett Johansson comes out and performs the backing vocals on "Just Like Honey," the Psychocandy single that appeared in her film, Lost In Translation.
The Mary Chain begin playing more reunion dates, including one at London's Brixton Academy where Jim reportedly insults the crowd. On fan site April Skies, he issues a statement saying, "It's been reported in a couple of reviews that at our Brixton Academy show I made a comment to the audience, 'You are a bunch of miserable bastards.' Some people think it's no big deal, but I think it's important to point out that I did in fact say, 'We are a bunch of miserable bastards,' which seemed appropriate at the time, as it was after the song 'Happy When It Rains.'"
Linda Reid finally releases her album under the name of Sister Vanilla in April 2007. Originally begun in 1996, Little Pop Rock proves to be the olive branch the Reid brothers needed to overcome their differences.
The Reids waste no time writing new music for the Mary Chain. They both produce some demos, which include a song William wrote for his solo album called "All Things Must Pass." They perform the song on Late Show With David Letterman and release it on a soundtrack to the NBC series Heroes. About the new music, William tells Billboard, "I would say it's an evolution. It definitely sounds like the Mary Chain, but I guess you evolve as a person and a writer. You can't really stand still. If you do that, you're lost."
On June 8, 2008, Nick Sanderson dies from lung cancer at the age of 47. They perform a tribute show along with British Sea Power and Black Box Recorder (featuring John Moore) a few months later at the Forum in Kentish Town, London. Moore rejoins the Mary Chain for tours of the U.S. and China, along with Brian Young of Fountains of Wayne, who replaces Colbert (who would later rejoin Ride). Moore doesn't last long, leaving after the band receive a backlash for playing two shows in Tel Aviv.
Rhino collects the band's B-sides and rarities for a CD box set titled, The Power of Negative Thinking. Jim Reid later tells L.A. Record, "That's the reason why we came up with title for our box set, The Power of Negative Thinking. It was a reaction to all that kind of Oprah Winfrey-ism, positive attitude, positive outcome … that's utter bollocks. That's bullshit. That's not true. It's a reaction against that – most of what spurred us to get up and get off our asses to actually do anything has been how bad things have been. It was more driven by being disgusted with the music and the state of the music scene than being inspired by other great music. We couldn't stand the records we were hearing on the radio. Even on the pages of the NME: 'Why are Kid Creole and the fucking Coconuts on the cover of the NME? Let's sort this out, let's stop moaning about it and get up and fix it!' That's what we were doing. The Power of Negative Thinking."
In 2011, Edsel Records reissues the Mary Chain's six studio albums as 2CD deluxe packages containing all of the non-album B-sides as well as previously unreleased demos and rare outtakes, along with a DVD featuring promo videos and previously unreleased archival TV appearances.
Jim Reid releases a new song called "Black and Blues" via the JAMC Twitter account, which is scheduled to feature on the band's forthcoming seventh album. The Mary Chain continue to tour, including dates at the 2012 South By Southwest Festival. During shows in Buffalo and Toronto in August, they are joined on stage by Mad Men's Jessica Paré, who sings the backing vocals for "Just Like Honey." In 2013, Demon Music Group releases The Complete Vinyl Collection, collecting all six albums on vinyl, as well as the band's BBC Sessions and 2003's Live In Concert.
2014 to 2017
Alan McGee relaunches Creation as a management company and signs the Mary Chain as his first client. He tells Music Week, "The Mary Chain were the first band I ever managed when I was 23. That was 30 years ago and they exploded really fast. By the time I was 24, they were number one in Germany and other places. Jim [Reid] was 22, I was 24 and Douglas [Hart] was seventeen. It was fucking nuts, if you think about it. We were kids! Now, I'm 53 — I suppose that's kind of the normal age of a manager in a lot of ways. Creation Management are going to sign a couple of baby bands, but the main thing for us [initially] is to do the Mary Chain right."
The band announce that they will play gigs celebrating the 30th anniversary of their seminal debut album, Psychocandy, beginning with London, Manchester, and Glasgow. They expand the anniversary shows to include the rest of the UK and North America. Jim Reid tells the NME the Mary Chain are still planning a new album. "We've got the material, we've talked about doing an album for so long now," he says. "We got back together in 2007 and it was the plan then. We thought, 'We've got a bunch of songs, this would make a pretty good Mary Chain album' – and then there was the usual slaps and scratches between my brother and myself. 'I wanna do it here' and 'I don't' and then it was all 'Fuck you' and swinging at each other. The usual shit basically. We are kind of coming round to being in agreement, which is a bit weird for us, he commented. We couldn't agree how to approach the songs. At the time when the band got back together my kids were very young and William lives in L.A. and wanted to record out there, and I didn't want to go and spend months away from my family. But my kids are a bit older now and I'm kind of in the middle of a divorce, so it seems like a good time to get the hell out of town. There will be an album – we will get it together. I'm more convinced now than I ever have been that there will be a new Mary Chain album."
In July 2015, they release Psychocandy Live at Barrowlands, a recording of their concert from November 23, 2014 in Glasgow. In a September 2015 interview with Time Out New York, Jim Reid finally confirms that the band are currently recording their long-awaited seventh album. "We're doing an album now," he says. "We actually just started recording. It's early days, but I would say it's a more mature sound for the Mary Chain. But let's just wait and see."
After nearly a decade of teases, in December 2016 the band announce their seventh album, Damage and Joy, will finally be released on March 24, 2017. Produced by Youth, the album features Brian Young on drums and Phil King on bass. In a statement, Jim Reid says, "We started to – can you believe? – listen to each other a bit more. In the last couple of years, we've buried the hatchet to some degree, and thankfully not into each other. Most people who know us would say that we haven't mellowed that much. I think it was to do with the fact, dare I say it, that wisdom comes with age. Let's live and let live, and let's take each other's opinions into account."
Psychocandy (Blanco Y Negro, 1985)
Widely considered to be one of the greatest debut albums ever, Psychocandy was monumental for its unabashed marriage of bubblegum melodies with unrelenting guitar feedback and distortion. With their unique brand of doomed romance and minimal, DIY methods, they managed to produce such timeless indie touchstones such as "Just Like Honey" and "Taste of Cindy." With such beautiful noise, the Reids started a musical revolution that became the prototype for both shoegaze in the UK and noise pop in the U.S.
Darklands (Blanco Y Negro, 1987)
Although everyone was calling for another album of feedback-ravaged pop, the Reids chose to prove themselves as talented songwriters over simple noiseniks. Darklands demonstrated this objective in spades through the foreboding lens of unforgettable singles like "Happy When It Rains" and "April Skies." Thanks to the emergence of William Reid as a secondary vocalist, the Mary Chain usurped expectations and in return were rewarded with even greater commercial success.
Honey's Dead (Blanco Y Negro, 1992)
As the Mary Chain's fourth album arrived, the band were on the verge of being written off as irrelevant by their label and the press. But Honey's Dead defied the naysayers by presenting the most complete version of the band yet. Led by a hit single that was banned for alleged blasphemy ("Reverence"), the album experimented with the baggy beat, paved the way for their next album with the soft harmonies of ballad "Almost Gold" and provided the alt-rock generation (and Lollapalooza) with mainstay anthems such as "Rollercoaster," "Far Gone and Out" and "Teenage Lust."