The Jesus and Mary Necklace: “Despite our reputation, we are gentle – tea and toast people” – The Guardian

The reader interview

40 years into their career and with a new album soon to be released, Jim and William Reid answer your questions about sibling rivalry and sing with Shane MacGowan and famous fan Sofia Coppola

Thu, January 25, 2024, 3:00 p.m. GMT

Sibling relationships can be difficult to manage in bandsas Numerous bands prove this, including your own. How do you balance your relationship as brothers and bandmates?? somecandytalking
Jim Reid (vocals, guitar): If I've learned anything, it's how to deal with my brother, and it's the same with him. We used to have invisible boundaries that we didn't cross, but in the '90s we couldn't stand each other. I am eternally grateful that most of the incidents took place before smartphones and therefore cannot be seen on YouTube. One night as we were DJing, we were rolling on the floor arguing and looking up at people's horrified expressions.
William Reid (vocals, guitar): At the [Los Angeles] During a performance at the House of Blues in 1998, Jim was so drunk that he couldn't remember the songs. I threw him off the stage, trying to be the singer but not knowing the words. That ended the band for nine years, but we haven't had a fight in a long time. It goes smoothly when there is no alcohol involved. We are mature now. You don't want to argue all the time.
Jim: Leaving the band healed the relationship. The song Jamcod on the new album [Glasgow Eyes] is about that night, but now we both know what not to say.

Jim once said, “After every tour we wanted to kill each other, and after the last tour we tried.”Who would have killed whom? Zaropans
William: I would have killed Jim because I'm bigger.
Jim: I have to say I would have killed William. As if Goldfinger were to kill James Bond tied to a table with lasers.

At 15, I took my vinyl copy of Psychocandy back to the record store because I thought something was wrong. How would you describe the sound of this record? Top Tramp
Jim: With Psychocandy we tried to fix everything that was wrong with the music scene. So if it sounded like the opposite of the diarrhea that was pouring out of the radio at the time, the job was done.

The Jesus and Mary Necklace in 1985… (from left) Douglas Hart, William Reid, Jim Reid and Bobby Gillespie. Photo: Symbol and Image/Getty Images

I remember a song you did with Shane MacGowan, God help me. Did you manage? Stevelittlefingers
William: I used to see Shane around town. He was always steaming drunk and always said, “Jim! Jim! You're a fucking genius!” I would say, “I'm William,” but it happened so often that I let him call me Jim. We were big Pogues fans. I had written the song about myself but thought it would sound good with Shane singing. It wasn't easy to get this man into the studio. He was also doing heroin at the time, but we finally did it and it was fantastic.
Jim: In a fair world, Shane would have put down the bottle at 40 and lived to be 90, but he was great – exactly what you would have wanted him to be. He once sang this song with us at Madame JoJo's in Soho. We were really nervous and getting slaughtered, then he showed up stone cold and sober and looked at us like we were degenerates. The performance was brilliant; He sang like he was in the Nipple Erectors again. Pure punk rock.

Listen to how God helps me.

Did you agree with Alan McGee? [the boss of the band’s label, Creation Records] in the 1980s when he said you were the best thing since the Sex Pistols? Galdove19
William: It's easy to believe when someone tells you that you're the greatest thing that ever happened, but then you hear them say the same thing [early Creation act] the legend. Alan called everything “genius.” A candy bar could be awesome. The exaggeration attracted positive attention and then a lot of negative attention. Jim got beaten up twice and people came to gigs just to throw bottles at us. So we told McGee to tone it down.
Jim: I think NME or Sounds started things off, but McGee – and I'm sure he would admit this – was going through his Malcolm McLaren phase. When I read that I thought, 'This is dangerous.' I got the shit kicked out of me at a Nick Cave gig. The word “hype” used to get on my nerves, so I’m not sure all advertising is good advertising. We ended up going away for six months. We thought all the riots and violence at our shows would die down, and when we came back, it did.

The text too the shins'Mildenhall in the shins tell James Mercer's introduction to alternative music: “A kid in the class handed me a cassette tape, a band called The Jesus and the Mary Chain.” How did you get into music and which band or artist was your first love? VerulamiumParkRanger
Jim: William got a Dansette for his birthday and all these Beatles and Bob Dylan records. The Beatles got me into music. Then it was a journey of discovery from glam rock to punk. It transported us from East Kilbride to a fantasy world. With bands like Roxy Music you'd think, “We could never do that in a million years,” but then I spent the whole night playing the Ramones' Blitzkrieg Bop and thought, “Shit, I'm a musician!” “
William: I had a dirty and dangerous job in a sheet metal factory in Glasgow. An interview with Johnny Rotten in the Daily Record where he talked about not working a dead-end job really touched me. Within a year I quit my job. Before I heard the Ramones, I played “Coming Round the Mountain” by Bert Weedon “Play in a Day.” [guitar tutorial] Books.

The sound of Just Like Honey in the ending scene of 2003's Lost in Translation is one of the greatest uses of music in film. How involved were you in the inclusion and were you happy with the end result? VerulamiumParkRanger
William: The only involvement we had was to say yes. We were going to say no because the offer was so low, but then someone I knew who was working on the film told me [writer/director] Sofia Coppola had no money but chose to and would be devastated if we said no.
Jim: So many times our songs were used in movies and they played on a radio for like eight seconds. So it was brilliant to have the climax scene in such a great film. It gave us a lot of new fans.

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in Lost in Translation. Photo: Focus Features/Sportsphoto/Allstar

What's the best heckling you've ever had? Area3AAM
William: Heckles don't tend to be funny. Most of the time it’s “Fuck you.”
Jim: One time in New York there was this guy in combat fatigues, dressed like Travis Bickle, staring right at me and making headlong gestures. I thought, “If he gets up, I'm done for.” Then he tried to climb onto the stage. It took four security guards to restrain him and throw him out.

Did the East Kilbride nightclub Center Point compete with the Haçienda in Manchester? Slum pop
William: When we lived there the discotheque was the Olympia. I have to say that the Haçienda was much less violent. I still have the click in my jaw from when some guy kicked me at the 1975 Olympics.

Is it true that you caused the shouts of “Guilty!” to the Erasure song Drama? YorksJambo
William: That's it. We were in the same studios and their producer wanted a lot of people shouting “Guilty!” It was funny because their singer, Andy Bell, had pasted our latest record into music paper and when we walked in he turned white as a sheet. But he had no reason to fear us. Despite our reputation, we are gentle people – tea and toast types.

The first gig I ever went to was on the Psychocandy tour at the Royal Court in Liverpool. You played 29 minutes. Are you playing longer now – and can I get my money back? Butchoaks
William: No refunds, sorry! These days we play for about an hour and a half, which is about right. We have a lot more songs.
Jim: I get bored watching bands for more than half an hour. Even if they dug the Beatles or whatever. We even did 20-minute shows during that golden time when we could do whatever we wanted. You know people want to hear the songs they paid for, but I'd still do 29 minutes if we could get away with it!

What would the nihilistic, seditious JAMC think of you still doing it now? More sheep than people
William: I think we would be proud because when we started, interviewers asked, “What are you going to do in five years?” Everyone thought we were a flash in the pan. I think after 40 years we have realized that the only way it will stop is if we stop it.
Jim: We still are the people we were then. I think we would be pretty comfortable with who we have become, but we are amazed to realize that we still do it. But if you're doing it because you love it and you've made a new record that you think is as good as any other you've made, then why the hell not?

• Glasgow Eyes is released on March 22nd. The band's UK tour begins on the same day at the Albert Hall in Manchester


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