Known for highly-charged live shows that hark back to the good ol’ days of rock and roll, The Jim Jones Revue is about to take New York by storm. With their second album, Burning Your House Down, the five-member band pump out the same visceral and thrilling music as their previous self-titled album, but with a more polished sound. On Saturday, the English troubadours will take the stage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. After a crowd-pleasing performance on David Letterman this week, it feels they may have finally broken through Stateside. We caught up with Jim Jones himself to find out more about the new album, rock and roll in today’s world, and his dream collaborators.
How would you describe your sound? We’re not trying to do something nostalgic in a way that a lot of people are, even though that stuff is fascinating. Those were more innocent times and the drive and aggression of that music, in those days, must have been quite shocking, whereas today we live in a world where pretty much if you can think of something disgusting, someone’s probably already done it, and there’s very little shock value to be had. So we’re just trying to appropriate that today and use anything at our disposal to try and put our music across with the same ferocity.
So is live performance and touring something you thrive on? Yeah, it’s pivotal. I’d say that everything else just hangs around that, and the live show is really what it’s about. You can listen to records and watch live footage, but when you actually arrive at a concert, there’s something that just doesn’t completely translate into a recording or a film, because you get the human experience if you’re there at the concert.
Do you have any favorite places you’d toured? I quite often like to mention the Basque region in northern Spain. It’s sort of a fiercely independent area, and they seem to be immediately in touch with their passionate side, so when you come on stage there they’re already crowd surfing . In terms of audience, they go up to eleven.
Tell me about your new album. How is it different from the last one? The first album was pretty much just made on a complete shoestring. We basically booked a rehearsal room that was very small for two days, and recorded it live. It ended up sounding quite distorted, to try and capture that excitement. So the next album we wanted to maintain the excitement and the ferocity that the first one had, but just with the benefit of a little bit more depth of sound. We pretty much played live, except this time the album was done over the course of a week rather than just a couple of afternoons. A couple of the songs on the album are just one take.
Were you worried at all that having this sort higher production value would take something away from the rawness of your sound? Exactly. That was something that was important to us going into it. We had talked about that and that’s what we wanted to avoid. We didn’t want that to happen. The first album was made so brutal sounding because there’s just no point in doing anything mediocre. It’s either make it really good or just make it really aggressive or noisy. It has to be really something, it could be average but what’s the point? There’s loads of average around and I always think if you try and avoid mediocrity, you’ll generally be alright.
Is there anyone you’d love to maybe tour with or collaborate with? On the impossible wish list: Tom Waits is a great person. He’s always stood for integrity, and he manages really interesting and great imagery, and at the same time, seems to have this warmth about him. And someone like Andre 3000 from Outkast, or Jack White perhaps.
Photo by Steve Gullick.