We’ve Got A File On You: The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Jim Reid

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We’ve Got A File On You: The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Jim Reid


We’ve Got A File On You features interviews in which artists share the stories behind the extracurricular activities that dot their careers: acting gigs, guest appearances, random internet ephemera, etc.

Back in 1984, few would’ve bet on the Jesus And Mary Chain still being around four decades later. After all, this was a band that could barely make it 15 minutes into a gig without all hell breaking loose, while offstage, fraternal founders Jim and William Reid were embroiled in an ever-volatile sibling rivalry that makes the Gallaghers look like the Partridge Family. Then again, conflict was baked right into the band’s sound, a cataclysmic collision of ’60s-jukebox golden-oldie melodies and the sort of circular-sawed, spark-shooting squall that necessitated the use of military-grade ear muffs if you ever wanted to hear again.

Even after the Glaswegian band outgrew their initial “new Sex Pistols” infamy to become an alternative-rock institution in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the Mary Chain always seemed to be one bad argument away from imploding. And that moment finally came on September 12, 1998, when a frustrated William walked offstage mid-show at the LA House Of Blues, forcing Jim and the rhythm section to complete their US tour without him before officially announcing the Mary Chain’s demise.

But even if they were no longer a functioning group, the Jesus And Mary Chain never really went away, as their influence continued to permeate all corners of indie-rock in the 21st century — from MTV buzz bands like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and subterranean noisemakers like A Place To Bury Strangers to dream-pop torchbearers like Chromatics and jangle revivalists like Ducks Ltd. Meanwhile, a fortuitous song placement in a certain generation-defining Sofia Coppola film gave the band an unprecedented amount of mainstream exposure in the US.

Ever since the Reids reconciled in the mid-2000s, they’ve stuck to a slow and steady course, perhaps to avoid exerting any undue pressure on their fragile dynamic. After the Reids reformed the Mary Chain for their Coachella comeback in 2007, it would take another 10 years for them to produce a new record, Damage And Joy. But if that album offered encouraging signs of life from a long-dormant band who could still execute all its old moves from muscle memory, the Mary Chain’s new album, Glasgow Eyes, released last Friday, feels like a true rebirth. The Reids’ effortless way with melody remains, but this time, the brothers bulldoze their familiar wall-of-noise backdrop and replace it with a more richly textured panorama of robo-motorik beats, electronic squelches, and strange samples. For the first time in a long while, it feels as though this groundbreaking band is once again opening up new pathways to explore.

On the occasion of the new album’s release — and his group’s 40th anniversary — Stereogum spoke to Jim Reid about the many highs and lows of the Mary Chain’s rollercoaster career, and the unlikely celebrity fans they’ve made along the way.

Your previous record, Damage And Joy, featured a number of songs that you and William had been working on separately during the decade years that the Mary Chain were inactive, and some of them first dribbled out through various solo projects. But is Glasgow Eyes the product of a more concentrated burst of songwriting?

JIM REID: There were songs on Damage And Joy collected from previous projects, at a time when there wasn’t a band called the Jesus And Mary Chain. The Mary Chain broke up in 1998 for nine years, and during that time, we did solo songs. And for one reason or another, perhaps those recordings weren’t the greatest, and it felt like those songs were just going to slip through the cracks. So when we did our album when we got back together, we didn’t want those songs to be forgotten. I mean, those songs were a Mary Chain album in waiting. So we re-recorded them just to collect them under the umbrella of the Mary Chain, so that they would live on. But this record was written at a time when we were in the band, so it was written as a Mary Chain album.

In the past, whether you were leaning into noise or electronics or acoustic songs, you could always tell you were listening to the Mary Chain — there’s just a certain vibe that’s instantly identifiable throughout your catalog. But I feel like with this record, especially with tracks like “Silver Strings” or “Mediterranean X Film,” there’s a more experimental approach to the production and use of beats and textures. What was pushing you in that direction?

REID: In the past, we’ve done things like that as mainly B-sides or the occasional thing on the album. But we decided to push it a bit more this time, just because it makes it a bit more interesting for us. With the technology on this one, drum machines and synths were pushed up to the front instead of being there in the background.

You recorded Glasgow Eyes at Mogwai’s Castle Of Doom studio. Were you aware of Mogwai when they were first coming up in the late ’90s? Were you still plugged into the Glasgow scene at that time?

REID: I don’t really look at where music comes from. I was aware of Mogwai just like most people were, because they made quite an impact. They’re on the experimental side of things. What they do is kind of edging towards prog, but in a good way — in a similar way that Can and Pink Floyd were.

REID: We’ve met Mogwai a few times and we get on very well with them, but the connection’s more to do with the fact that David [McBride], our manager, for years and years managed Mogwai. He doesn’t anymore, but he’s still good friends with them. The album wasn’t completely recorded at Mogwai studio. We had done this deal with Fuzz Club and started working before COVID, and then it got shelved as everything did for a while. And then when COVID was not so much of an issue, we found that we were out on the road touring to catch up on all of the gigs that we’d missed out on. And the record just seemed to be getting forgotten about until Fuzz Club said, “Fuck, where’s our record?” And so we were looking for places that felt comfortable, because the vibe is hugely important when you make a record. And David said, “Well, why don’t you try Mogwai’s place in Glasgow?” And we liked the idea of being back in Glasgow. It was good to wake up every morning in the center of Glasgow and stroll around the corner to Mogwai’s studio and make a record. It made a difference.

I noticed you have a vocal fan of this new record in Sir Elton John, who’s been playing your singles on his radio show. Were you aware that he was a fan of your music?

REID: I kind of bumped into him once about 15 years ago. It was at an awards ceremony and he came running up saying, “I fucking love you guys!” And I was very surprised at that. He seemed like the nicest chap you could imagine. So… thank you, Elton!

REID: I’ve got a massive record collection. And it takes in many different types of music and I’ve certainly got a few Elton John records in there.

In your early days, you received a lot of attention for slagging off popular artists in the press. But then as you got older, I imagine you probably found yourself in situations where you meet some of those artists and realize they’re actually nice people…

REID: When I used to put down other bands, it was just to get a reaction from people. There’s a very well-known interview clip of me in Belgium in 1986. And just before we did the interview, somebody said to me, “Whatever you do, don’t say anything bad about Joy Division, because the guy that’s going to be interviewing you is a mega-Joy Division fan.” And to me, that was like a red rag to a bull! So I just went on saying, “Fuck Joy Division! They’re not even worthy to lick our boots.” And the guy was like [gasps]. But what he didn’t know was that I was probably a bigger fan of Joy Division than he was! We were doing the same thing with the Clash. I mean, I’m a huge Clash fan. But I remember I was doing an interview with somebody at the NME, and the guy was talking about the Clash as if they were marble-god statues, and I said, “Well, they’re actually kind of shit these days, aren’t they?” And that was it. A lot of people reacted to that — maybe negatively, but it got a reaction. And that’s what it was all about in those days.

Recording “I Can See Clearly Now” With Seelenluft (2004)

I wanted to ask you about this track you recorded in 2004 with the Swiss producer Seelenluft, because the lyrics on it — “We’re on fire/ And that’s cool /Piss on me/ Don’t piss on me/ My piss ain’t free” — are very similar to those we hear on Glasgow Eyes‘ first track, “Venal Joy,” which has the line: “I’m on fire/ Piss on fire/ Don’t piss on fire.” Any connection there?

REID: You know, I forgot all about that! Almost nobody heard that track, except for you. I can’t believe that you did, actually. But well-spotted!

“Upside Down” b/w “Vegetable Man” (1984)

So in addition to a new record, this year also marks the 40th anniversary of “Upside Down,” which is one of those greatest debut singles of all time. It was a song that really drew a line in the sand between before and after, and it introduced a band that had its aesthetic completely locked in from the get-go. But a year before that, you had made some demos, like “Up Too High,” that were a lot more delicate, and more in line with what New Order were doing at the time. So how did you make the leap from that mode to this massive wall of noise?

REID: When we were making those demos, there wasn’t a band at that time. There was me and William making demos in our bedroom on a four-track Portastudio. Now, when you’ve got a guitar and a bass and a little Drumatix drum machine and one amplifier, there’s only so much you can do with that equipment. But when we got the actual band up and running, and we stepped on a stage, you could do what you wanted, and then you could realize what you’d only been hinting at before. I mean, if we’d have been able to make music that sounded like we did live, we would have, but it just simply wasn’t an option on a four-track Tascam Portastudio and a 50-quid guitar.

A lot of early Mary Chain music messed around with classic American sounds, like the Beach Boys, Ramones, and Bo Diddley. But the first cover you actually put out, on the B-side to “Upside Down,” is an old Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd song, “Vegetable Man.” So I’m curious where they fit into your musical DNA…

REID: I mean, it was Syd Barrett mostly that we were into. I like Floyd now, I like the stuff that they did in the ’70s as well without Syd, but I didn’t then. At that time, to me, the only thing that was the least bit interesting about Pink Floyd was Syd Barrett. And I don’t think that anybody in the band would disagree if you said that Pink Floyd would never have existed, and they couldn’t have gone on to do what they did, without Syd. He was huge to us. The two Syd solo albums were never off the turntable at that time. And I still love those records to this day. And Piper At The Gates Of Dawn — man, that was one of the best records ever made. For years. I resisted the Pink Floyd non-Syd period. But what made me able to start to get into [their post-Barrett records] was when I started to think of them as a different band — like, it’s got nothing to do with Syd, and that’s okay. I wouldn’t say I’m a massive fan, but I definitely like some of their albums now that don’t feature Syd Barrett.

Touring With Nine Inch Nails (1990 vs. 2018)

In 1990, you toured the Automatic album in America with a little opening band called Nine Inch Nails. Was that a handpicked choice from you or was that tour just sort of slapped together?

REID: To be honest with you, I can’t remember how that bill came together. I tend to think it was probably to do with the promoter. At that time, that was probably the first I’d heard of Nine Inch Nails. But I liked them. I thought they were good then and I still like them now.

And then, 28 years later, you ended up opening for them on their 2018 tour. Are you close with Trent Reznor?

REID: Not really, to be honest. He seems like a nice enough chap, but it was like being on tour with the Rolling Stones or something like that. We were rolling up to the shows with a couple of guitars and a couple of fuzz pedals and, I’m not kidding, there were about eight 18-wheelers outside the venue with all their gear. And you think, “Fuck man — is this really necessary?” They were slightly distant figures, shall we say, but they were polite enough and they made us feel welcome, but we didn’t really see them very much.

Well, for what it’s worth, Trent has always been very vocal about his Mary Chain fandom…

REID: Then he’s alright with me!

Pixies’ Cover Of “Head On” (1991)

Speaking of other famous Mary Chain fans… The Pixies’ cover of “Head On” came just two years after you put out the original, and it’s become a fan favorite that they still play regularly on tour. I feel like that’s something that happened a lot more in the 1960s, when bands often covered their contemporaries and got a hit single out of it, but that wasn’t happening a whole lot in 1991.

REID: Yeah, that almost never happens now. I mean, it’s a strange thing to do, I must admit. But yeah, I think they did a really good version, and they’ve stuck with it… so thank you, Pixies!

Playing Lollapalooza Sandwiched In Between Pearl Jam And Soundgarden Every Goddamn Day For Two Months Straight (1992)

Lollapalooza began in 1991 as this utopian experiment to bring all these freak scenes — the punks, the goths, the metalheads, the rap fans — under one umbrella. But by 1992, alternative music in America was essentially synonymous with grunge, and you were slotted between Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, who had blown up massively that summer. What was that experience like for you?

REID: It was quite traumatic. We were lied to. It was sold to us as this traveling festival where everybody’s as important as everybody else. “It’s a democracy.” But when we got there, we found out that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were shipping in an extra PA, so that they could sound louder than everybody else. And we said, “Well, that’s not fair!” And we were told, “Yeah, but they’re paying for it.” And I remember saying to the promoter, “Can we ship in some extra PA and we will pay for it, too.” And they said, “No, you can’t.” What happened to the fucking bullshit about everybody’s equal? Some are more equal than others.

And then we’ve got Pearl Jam, who had the number one fucking record in America and we’re going on after them!?! And Eddie Vedder, Christ almighty, was climbing up on the PAs and the canopy above the stage! I was walking on thinking, “How the fuck am I gonna go out and just do that thing I do, where I just stand looking dour at a microphone singing Mary Chain songs?” It was as bad as it sounds: It was everybody just standing there, wearing Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam T-shirts and eating hot dogs, just looking at us, like, who the fuck are these guys? It was a nightmare from start to finish. I came back with a very, very bad cocaine habit, but it was the only thing that could get me through that nightmare experience.

I think it was also weird for fans to see you playing in the afternoon sun. Are you more amenable to performing daytime festival slots these days?

REID: We are better at playing in non-ideal circumstances now. I mean, if we could go back and do that with my old head now, it wouldn’t be quite so freakish as it was then. I mean, nowadays, I’ve got much more of an attitude of: You go out there, and maybe you’ve got an audience that don’t look like they’re into it, so you just think, “Well, fuck it — we’ll play our music, and by the end of it, we’ll have won a few fans. That’s good enough.” But back then, we were just totally freaked out by the whole situation. And it kind of showed and that made it all worse.

“Why’d You Want Me” Featured On The Encino Man Soundtrack (1992)

If Lollapalooza was the weirdest environment in which to experience your music in 1992, I have to think a Pauly Shore flick would be a close second.

REID: I do remember getting that [soundtrack] offer, and I remember going to the cinema to see it to hear our song and I couldn’t hear it in there. I sat through that whole fucking terrible film!

“Sometimes Always” (1994) And Its Connection To Lee Hazlewood, Hope Sandoval, & Mad Men’s Jessica Paré

Well if anything positive came out of the Encino Man experience, it’s that “Why’d You Want Me” in retrospect sounds like a test run for “Sometimes Always,” one of your most beloved songs.

REID: They were written around the same time, I think.

Legend has it you originally tried to get Lee Hazlewood to sing on that song…

REID: We were trying to get Lee Hazlewood to do a duet, but we hadn’t actually decided on what the song was going to be. It was agreed that he was gonna do it, and he came along to see us in Los Angeles on the Lollapalooza tour. He came back to meet us, and the security guys wouldn’t let him backstage; they said, “You can wait in this VIP area over there, and we’ll send the guys around,” and he was very offended by that. And that was it. Suddenly, he was like, “No, I’m not doing it anymore.” And so we tried to explain to him that this [security situation] was nothing to do with us. And then he said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” But by then he’d gone from being really flattered to be asked to suddenly asking for ridiculous amounts of money that we couldn’t afford. And then he was saying things like, “I want to be put up at the Savoy Hotel in a suite next door to my mate Jerry Lee Lewis, who’s going to be in town at that time.” And we were saying, “Lee, we just don’t have that kind of money. I’d have to sell my house to do that.” And that was it, it all just fell apart.

So on top of Lollapalooza being a miserable experience for you, their security team effectively ruined your chances of making a record with Lee Hazlewood.

REID: Wouldn’t that be a great thing: the Mary Chain with Lee Hazlewood singing. That would have been fantastic.

But you got Hope Sandoval as a consolation prize, which isn’t too shabby. Given that she and William were an item at the time, was it just a foregone conclusion she would end up on a Mary Chain record?

REID: To be honest, it happened the other way around. She was on a Mary Chain record, then William and her dated. They got together during the making of that album [1994’s Stoned And Dethroned].

Then in 2012, you performed “Sometimes Always” onstage in Toronto with Jessica Pare of Mad Men fame. How did you get connected with her?

REID: She’s married to a friend of ours, John Kastner [former frontman of Montréal fuzz-pop favorites the Doughboys]. And he’s toured with us, doing various jobs with the Mary Chain over the years. He was our guitar tech for a while. We’d have different singers come out and do “Just Like Honey” and “Sometimes Always” depending on where we were. So it was John’s idea to have Jess do it in Toronto. It was really good — she was one of the best.

Shane MacGowan Singing Lead Vocals On “God Help Me” (1994)

What was your history with Shane?

REID: I wouldn’t say that we were close buddies, but we’d run into each other from time to time. We’d see him at a gig or whatever and do drugs in the toilet. And that would be it. He used to always call me William and he used to call William, Jim. It was one of those things where we corrected him so many times, and realized he was never gonna get it, so I just became William for convenience. He was a lovely guy. He was exactly what you would imagine Shane would be like. He lived hard, but he was a gentle soul underneath it all. If he would’ve given up the drink and the drugs like 15-20 years ago, he could still be alive. It’s a shame.

Getting Into A Bar Brawl With The Cast Of Riverdance (1998)

Tales of fighting and violence are embedded into the Mary Chain’s history. We don’t need to rehash all that here, but I am particularly interested in talking about an altercation that reportedly happened in 1998 in Rhode Island between your band and the cast of Riverdance

REID: I can’t believe this is still going around — I’d forgotten all about it. Everybody thinks, “Well surely that can’t be true,” but it is. We played a show and we were in a hotel bar afterwards and the cast of Riverdance were also there. It was our fault — not the band, but we had this guitar tech who was an absolute dickhead. And he said something horrible to one of the women of the Riverdance cast. So just fill in the blanks: Imagine the worst, it was probably something like that. And it all just kicked off. One of the Riverdance people was gonna rip his head off. Now, I wouldn’t even have minded if he would’ve, because I didn’t like the guy either. So I just went up to them and said, “Look, I don’t know what he said to you, but this guy’s an absolute dick, and look at it from our point of view: We’ve got to travel with the guy!” And the Riverdance guy laughed, and it kind of defused the situation. But then this fucking idiot said something else to them, and it all just kicked off again. And it was people swinging at each other. And I just thought, “Oh, for fuck’s sake…” I just sat in a corner and continued to drink and thought, “Well, I did what I could.”

Forming His Post-JAMC Band Freeheat (1999)

So on that final ill-fated Mary Chain tour in 1998, you played a bunch of shows without William and then you started the band Freeheat. What was it like starting this new band without your brother by your side? Did it feel strange?

REID: I don’t know how seriously I really took it, to be honest with you. The Mary Chain had broken up, and then we were all just sitting around London, licking our wounds and feeling sorry for ourselves. And I remember me, [guitarist] Ben [Lurie], [drummer] Nick [Sanderson], and [bassist] Romi [Mori] sitting in the pub around the corner from my house, and we were bitching about all the bands that were doing better than us, and so we kind of just planned a band that would just exist for the whole sole purpose of getting drunk, and going on tour just for booze. We would just do tours and more or less get paid in alcohol, which, of course, was an incredibly unhealthy way to live. But it was incredibly good fun as well. Those couple of Freeheat tours were probably the most enjoyable tours that I’ve ever done. And sometimes we were literally playing in front of a dozen people. We were just pissing ourselves laughing just like, “Who cares?” I could not give a fuck.

Providing The Lead Vocals On “Detroit” From Primal Scream’s Evil Heat (2002)

Obviously, you have a deep history with Primal Scream going back to the early ’80s — Bobby Gillespie was your first drummer before he committed to the Primals full time. Have you two always stayed close?

REID: Yeah. I mean, if he’s playing, I’ll go and see him. I saw him a few weeks ago, he played near me. And it was great. I mean, Bobby’s a star. And it’s always good to see him.

According to the album credits, “Detroit” was a Primal Scream composition — did you contribute anything to the writing?

REID: I just sang it. The track was written already. I mean, Bobby did say I could rewrite the words, but the words were so good, I didn’t want to touch them.

In this post-Mary Chain era, you also appeared on Death In Vegas’ Contini Sessions album with the song “Broken Little Sister.” Do you enjoy working as a guest vocalist, where you just drop in, do your thing, and leave the creative decision-making to someone else?

REID: I really enjoyed that Death In Vegas one. I actually did write the words and melody on that one. I thought it was pretty good. I’d quite like to do that live, actually, but we never have.

“Just Like Honey” Appearing On The Lost In Translation Soundtrack (2003)

So around this time, when you’re off on your own path doing Freeheat and various collaborations, “Just Like Honey” appears in the closing scene of Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation — and suddenly, it felt like there was all this renewed interest in the Mary Chain. Did it feel that way to you?

REID: Absolutely. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. It brought a whole load of new fans to the Mary Chain. I mean, you only have to look at the numbers. It’s by far the most-streamed track in our back catalog. When we used to play that song in the ’80s and ’90s, it was just another one of the songs in our set. And nobody gave a fuck if we didn’t play it. And we didn’t always play it. It certainly wasn’t like, “You have to play ‘Just Like Honey.’” But if we play a gig now and don’t play “Just Like Honey,” I think people will be thinking, “Fuck, I paid my money and I didn’t get the full set!” But I don’t mind that: it’s great to have a song that opens the doors for people to come in. I’ve got no problem with that at all. It’s only done us good.

Performing “Just Like Honey” With Lost In Translation Star Scarlett Johansson At Coachella (2007)

So how did you go from soundtracking a Scarlett Johansson movie to actually performing with her?

REID: We were rehearsing for Coachella and we were gonna do “Just Like Honey,” and we thought, “Well, who can we get to sing it with us?” We used to do “Just Like Honey” live without the girl voice at the end of it, but we thought, this is a big comeback at a huge festival, we’ve got to have somebody come out and do it. William said he’d heard Scarlett Johansson was doing an album on the record label [Rhino] that was reissuing our back catalog, so there was a way to get through to her. So William said, “Why don’t we get Scarlett?” And I just thought she would immediately say, “Nah, who the fuck are those guys?” But we thought, “Well, why not ask?” So we asked and she said, “Yeah,” and it was great. The rest is history.

Sister Vanilla’s Little Pop Rock (2005)

In the midst of this Lost In Translation-fueled renaissance, you and William make a record with your sister Linda — aka Sister Vanilla. The relationship between you and William is very well documented. How does Linda fit into your sibling dynamic?

REID: Well, poor Linda has been the peacekeeper. It’s not an easy role to live up to. She’s the UN of the family. So when the shit hits the fan, we tend to go to her separately. I’ll be like, “Guess what he said to me!” And she’ll say, “I’ve already heard William say his version of the story.” She’ll try to talk sense into the pair of us — sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But she’s had to put up with a lot of shit over the years, so I feel for her.

So was making this record with her both a way for you and William to get back together, but also a thank you to Linda for putting up with your shit?

REID: I can’t even remember how it all came about to begin with. But yeah, it kind of healed mine and William’s relationship. That wasn’t the intention. William was already living in LA this time and had a home studio, so he was recording stuff. And I was recording stuff with Ben in London — we still had the Drugstore [studio]. And then there was a time when I went to visit William for the first time since the breakup — I think it was his son Kier’s first birthday. My mom and dad were there, Linda was there — the whole family was together. It was a bit tense at the beginning. But then we went into his studio and we started recording the [Sister Vanilla] song “jamcola” together. And it kind of felt a bit like old times. It was the beginning of the healing, I would say.

Covering The Beatles’ “And Your Bird Can Sing” For MOJO Magazine’s 40th-Anniversary Tribute To Revolver (2006)

I’m curious about your relationship with the Beatles, because they’re not as obvious an influence on the Mary Chain as, say, the Beach Boys. But they’ve been name-dropped in your songs, including one on Glasgow Eyes called “The Eagles And The Beatles” — which is actually more about loving the Rolling Stones. So what do the Beatles mean to you?

REID: The Beatles have been pretty huge for the Mary Chain. That’s another one of those bands where my big mouth got me into trouble. I said something pretty horrible about the Beatles back in the ’80s — again, it was just me shooting my mouth off. I love the Beatles, and William absolutely adores the Beatles. When we got a record player in about 1971, we had no records to play on it, and my cousin lent us a big stack of Beatles records, and that was the beginning of our love of music, really. We played those Beatle records over and over and over again. That was really the first band I can remember that used to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It was like, “Fuck I don’t know how, but I want to do this somehow. I want to be in a band.” That was when the idea occurred to us.

I assume you watched Get Back — what was that experience like for you, as someone who’s also in a band that’s had to deal with its share of tension and dysfunction?

REID: You can see that it was so much more intense for them. With a normal band, the things that you’re bickering over can’t compare to the pressure they must have been under. And you could see in that film that they were all terrified to speak in case they were misunderstood. I’ve watched it a couple of times now, and the first time I watched it, I was saying to my other half, Rachel, “They’re so inarticulate — it’s like they don’t seem to be able to make any point without waffling on unnecessarily.” And then it was only when I watched it the second time I thought, “I can see what’s actually going on here: They’re terrified in case they say something that one of the others is going to take offense at.” The stakes were so much more in the stratosphere when it comes to the Beatles. I mean, God, it must have been so stressful.

The Jesus And Mary Chain’s Comeback Single “All Things Must Pass” Getting Released Via NBC’s Heroes Soundtrack (2007)

The first Mary Chain song released in nearly 10 years was “All Things Must Pass” — not a George Harrison cover — which you debuted on The Late Show With David Letterman. But then the only place listeners could access it was through the soundtrack to the show Heroes. What was the logic behind that?

REID: Yeah, that happened years before the song appeared on the album [Damage And Joy]. That’s another one of those songs where we thought, “What is this going to be remembered for? Is it going to be remembered because it was on a TV show called Heroes? No, you want it to be part of a Mary Chain album that people hopefully are going to hold in high regard.” So you’re illustrating the reason why we brought all those [older] songs into the Mary Chain fold. Heroes, no. Damage And Joy, yeah.

Were you a fan of Heroes?

REID: No, I never watched it. William quite liked it, I believe.

Recording The Damage And Joy Track “Black And Blues” With Sky Ferreira (2017)

I’ve heard you say in interviews that you don’t really listen to much new music — you’re in your jazz years now. How did Sky get on your radar?

REID: She sang with Primal Scream [on their 2016 single “Where The Light Gets In“]. And we were talking to Bobby, and I told him we were writing a couple of duets. And he said, “Why don’t you try Sky?” And I said, “Hmmm… I don’t know, I’ll try it.” We played a gig in America somewhere and she showed up, and she seemed alright. She seemed like she may have been a good fit. So we gave it a go, and it worked out pretty well, I think.

Isobel Campbell, a fellow Scot, also appears on that record — is she someone you have a closer relationship with?

REID: I had never met her until that record, I just like her music, like the stuff she did with Mark Lanegan. I loved Mark Lanegan. When you’re looking for someone, you think of people that you know are going to be in the ballpark because you’ve heard them do it on their own records. I love Isobel’s voice.

Writing The Forthcoming Memoir Never Understood With William (2024)

Let’s finish off by talking about your other big project for this year. How did you and William approach writing a book together? What was the division of labor there?

REID: Well, It’s not an autobiography. It’s us speaking to a journalist named Ben Thompson, and he’s done several interviews with us, but separately. We just tell various anecdotes about what it was like growing up in Scotland, how the band got together, how the band broke up. It’s mostly to do with the ’80 and ’90s, up to the breakup of the band and how it all disintegrated. William tells his version of it, and I tell my version of it. [laughs] And sometimes they’re similar, but often they are wildly different from each other. So I think it’s a pretty honest telling of the story. And I think there’s also humor in it. I mean, it might be sort of chipping away at the myth a little bit, but that’s no bad thing. I think everybody thinks that we’re so damn po-faced and serious, so I think the book might do something to erode that.

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