The Jesus and Mary Chain will go down as one of the most important, influential and coolest bands of their time. Their use of guitar feedback and primitive drumming, combined with a somewhat traditional early ’60s song-writing style, made them stick out in the ’80s as the next logical step in art-punk-pop after The Velvet Underground.
Put it this way: If The Pixies covered your songs, you did something right.
When I listen to Psychocandy, I feel like I'm sitting on a chair of nails inside a room filled with pink smoke. In the early days, The Jesus and Mary Chain’s shows caused riots when the band would leave the stage after only 20 minutes. Their sound is both simple and chaotic, beautiful and dark, romantic and detached.
William Reid writes the lion’s share of the music and lyrics. His younger brother Jim is the singer and the one who deals with social situations. Their feuding is legendary. The closest comparison would be the Oasis brothers. Mary Chain (as William refers to the band) is from Scotland. He once said to me, "No drinking? That'd be like saying, no family!"
I was lucky enough to watch the band’s return to the stage a few months ago in Pomona, Calif. (the night before their big Coachella gig). It was their first time performing in nine years.
William is a friend. We usually hang out and play video games, jam and talk. He rarely gives interviews, but I managed to bribe him with a rare Mazzy Star bootleg.
During the entire interview I can hear what might be Jesus And Mary Chain demos leaking out of a pair of headphones at William's feet.
Goldmine: You've obviously achieved more than most people. Have you achieved everything you want to achieve?
William Reid: I have not achieved more than most people.
GM: Yeah, you have.
WR: No, I don't feel like that. I’m thinking of bands that I love, and I haven’t achieved what they've done. Like The Sweet, you know? And The Slade. I love the British bands that were me and Jim’s heros. We thought they were just f**king brilliant.
GM: I like that record Desolation Boulevard.
WR: Well, Slade and Sweet and Marc Bolan. I mean, that’s what I'm talking about. In America, people have absolutely no recognition of anything like that. They don't. They really don't.
GM: Yeah, Marc Bolan was like Elvis over in the U.K., but here it didn’t really take off in the same way.
WR: I'm talking in the '70s when people were like, "Don't even look at that," and I was like, "Wow, this is f**king Bowie and Marc Bolan," and America was like, "Don't even look at them. Don't touch them!" and I was like, "Come on! These guys are the geniuses of the ’70s!" And then Bowie made it, but Marc Bolan didn't make it. He was like … gone.
GM: Hey, do you feel like a rock star?
WR: Do I feel like Phil Collins or something? No, I don't feel like a rock star. I really don't. I really don't.
GM: What would you say if someone told you that all that great guitar feedback you've done on all those records was just a bunch of noise?
WR: Yeah, it was noise, but it was the most beautiful tenderness. It was this thing that just sorta happened. I don't think I will ever feel that sort of like...almost like a dream feeling again in my life.
GM: Do you wr