Reverend at the crossroads

Sheffield-based band Reverend and the Makers are celebrating nine years of formation with their fourth studio album, Thirty-Two, due for release later this month.

The band are currently touring the country – not playing in larger venues, however, but visiting different cities each night in fan’s houses. The band simply ask people to tweet them if they’d like a gig, one person is chosen in that night’s location a day or so in advance – it’s that simple.

I caught up with Jon ‘The Reverend’ McClure to speak to him about this method of promotion, the band’s new album and their impending tour. At the time of writing, the band are almost at the end of their scheduled thirty-two houses, and McClure is loving it. “It’s been absolutely mental, we’ve had people falling through windows, police vans turning up, and even a marriage proposal – a successful marriage proposal from a fella to his lady, so we’ve been having a right laugh.”

In an industry where the enormity of some artists creates an ever widening gap between them and their fans, ‘The Reverend’ feels like these unusual gigs are more important than ever. “Unless you’re gonna make really awful music to get onto daytime radio, your options are limited to what you can do to get people to know about the band…fans love it.” McClure values the loyalty of his fans more so than he does about being a renowned name – “You can be loved by ten thousand people, or liked by a million, but if they love you, they’ll love you forever, and that’s what music’s about for me. I don’t want to force the mainstream in order to be liked.” Indeed, although the band’s Heavyweight Champion of the World is widely recognised, McClure does not aim to have his songs played nationally. “I don’t want to start to make rubbish music to play on the radio, I’d much rather stick to my guns – and I think it’s working.”

And the name of the album? Inspired by Jon’s age. “I’m not trying to pretend I’m 21…I’m 32, why pretend I’m not?” explained McClure, “I’m not trying to please anyone anymore – no radio players, no one else, just me…and besides, Adele’s f**ked when she gets to my age. She’s had 19 and 21, but she can’t have 32!” the frontman joked.

Thirty-two is already looking to outdo the surprise success of the band’s last album, which McClure referred to as a “resurgence for the band”. Indeed, the pride that McClure takes in his new record is warmingly genuine. “It’s almost like the first album in that we have nothing to prove to anyone. We’re making music for us and because we like it, and you can hear that we’re not shying away from anything, its that ballsy confidence”.

As always, the band’s songs stem from real experiences, and this album marks a new age of maturity for them. The song ‘Your Girl, is “about a mate who couldn’t go out ’cause he was always with his missis. There’s one called ‘The Only One’, about wanting to be treated like the only fella’,” explained McClure, before musing on his own circumstance – “I’ve got married to Laura, and there’s a bit of thinking like ‘this is where we are, this is where we were; what’s next?’ Its a crossroads age, 32 – you’re definitely not a kid anymore, real life’s kicked in.”

Thirty-two is due for release on February 24th, the day after the band begin their UK tour.