The Jesus And Mary Chain

Official videos

Follow this artist

About this artist

One of the most important and revered bands of the post-punk and alternative rock scenes, the Jesus and Mary Chain’s artistic impact is incalculable. Heavily influenced not only by the dangerous sounds of bands like the Velvet Underground and the Stooges, but also by the sonic grandeur and pop savvy of the ’60s-era girl group sound and the Beach Boys, the band was able to find the beauty in noise, while both celebrating pop conventions and thoroughly subverting them. Their landmark 1985 album, Psychocandy, basically invented noise pop, while Darklands stripped away the scuzz to reveal pristine melodies. From there the group explored many aspects of rock, from beat-heavy electro punk to dusty heartbreak ballads — hitting big with “Sometime Always” in 1994 — before going their separate ways in a cloud of bad feelings. After exploring other avenues for a while, the band’s founders, Jim and William Reid, buried the hatchet and began a years-long run of live shows honoring their past while also releasing the occasional album, like 2024′s avant-garde jazz-influenced and introspective Glasgow Eyes. Inspired by the sounds of the post-punk surrounding them in the late ’70s, the Reids began talking about starting a band for years, but it wasn’t until 1983 that they got serious. They made a series of Ramones-influenced demos on home recording gear, then recruited bassist Douglas Hart and drummer Murray Dalglish. This early edition of the band started playing the occasional gig, often uninvited by the club’s owners, and soon caught the ear of local lad Bobby Gillespie. Thanks to his passing a tape on to Alan McGee, the band scored a slot at the latter’s club The Living Room. Impressed by the band’s sound and presentation, McGee signed them to his Creation label and signed on as their manager. In late 1984 — just as Gillespie joined in place of Dalglish — the band issued its seminal debut single, “Upside Down,” a gnarly blast of live-wire feedback anchored by a caveman-like drumbeat. The record was unlike anything else happening at the time and it’s thrilling combination of violence and melody made the JMC an overnight sensation in the U.K., as did their nascent live shows, 20-minute sets of confrontational noise (performed with the bandmembers’ backs to the audience) which frequently ended in rioting. The follow-up, “You Trip Me Up,” further perfected the formula, and led to their 1985 debut LP Psychocandy, which gift-wrapped sweet, simple pop songs in ribbons of droning guitar fuzz. After a two-year layoff (during which time Gillespie exited to form Primal Scream and was replaced by John Moore), the Jesus and Mary Chain returned with the icy and drum machine-driven Darklands, a dramatic shift in approach that stripped away the feedback to expose the moody, melancholy guitar pop at the music’s core. After a sprawling 1988 collection of singles, B-sides, and demos titled Barbed Wire Kisses, they emerged with Automatic, which introduced a more stylized, less abrasive overall sound and spawned the college radio hit “Blues from a Gun.” After another long absence, the Mary Chain (minus Hart) resurfaced in 1992 with Honey's Dead, and earned greater U.S. visibility thanks to a spot on that summer’s Lollapalooza lineup; the first single, “Reverence,” also won them renewed attention at home when Top of the Pops banned the song because of lyrics like “I wanna die just like Jesus Christ” and “I wanna die just like JFK.” The group turned away from the dark, mainly uptempo sound of Honey's Dead on their next effort, 1994′s gentle, largely acoustic Stoned & Dethroned, they even reached the U.S. pop charts thanks to the lovely single “Sometimes Always,” a duet with Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. Another collection of scattered singles and B-sides, The Jesus and Mary Chain Hate Rock 'n' Roll, followed a year later, highlighted by “I Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll,” a scabrous swipe that reclaimed the pure noise attack of their earliest work. Moving to Sub Pop, they returned with 1998’s Munki, a scattershot attempt to corral all the different elements of the group under one roof. After years of less than fraternal feeling between the brothers, William Reid left the group during the subsequent tour, and in 1999, the Jesus and Mary Chain officially disbanded. Eight years later, the Reid brothers, joined by guitarist Mark Crozer, bassist Phil King (Lush), and drummer Loz Colbert (Ride), revived the band to perform at the Coachella and Meltdown festivals and a new song titled “All Things Must Pass” appeared on the 2008 soundtrack for the television series Heroes. A four-disc box set, The Power of Negative Thinking: B-Sides and Rarities, was released the same year, trailed by expanded reissues of their 1985-1998 studio albums. Performances resumed in 2012, with Brian Young (Fountains of Wayne) in place of Colbert. The band later played several dates across Europe and the U.S. that involved the performance of Psychocandy in its entirety, a celebration of the album’s 30th anniversary. A Glasgow gig was documented in box set form as Live at Barrowlands. The success of the touring must have eased the tensions between the brothers, because in 2015 they entered the studio to begin working on a new album. Comprising songs newly written and culled from the years after their breakup, Damage and Joy was produced by Youth and featured guest vocals by their sister Linda, Isobel Campbell, and Sky Ferreira. The album was released in early 2017 by their own Artificial Plastic label. After years of touring and time spent suing Warner Bros. for control of their early albums (plus a healthy settlement), the brothers reconvened in the studio to work on music. Inspired by avant-garde jazz, utilizing more synths than ever before, and featuring lyrics that deal honestly with their past issues, such as estrangement and drug abuse, 2024’s Glasgow Eyes was something of a departure for the band, though there are plenty of hooky noise pop moments to cushion the more avant-garde sounds. Featuring contributions from the live band (bassist Mark Crozer, guitarist Scott Von Ryper, and drummer Justin Welsh) as well as vocal appearances by Rachel Conti and Rezillos/Revillos member Fay Fife, the album was recorded with the usual amount of tension at Mogwai’s Castle of Doom studio. ~ Jason Ankeny & Tim Sendra