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The Jim Jones Revue - The IndieLondon interview

The Jim Jones Revue

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JIM JONES and fellow band member Rupert Orton talk exclusively to IndieLondon about their rabble-rousing debut album Burning Your House Down, some of the inspirations behind the songs and their own ‘runaway train’ history.

Jim also recalls a crazy 48-hour period in which the band travelled from France to support The Dead Weather and back again, narrowly avoiding being arrested and playing their best show ever! And how much those live shows take out of him!

Q. Hi there, we’re loving the raw, untamed vibe of Burning Your House Down… are you pleased with the way it turned out?
Rupert Orton: Yeah, we wanted to retain the excitement and energy of the first record but give it more sonic definition, basically make a louder record. I think we’ve done that. Where the first record breaks up into white noise past 3 or 4 you can turn Burning Your House Down up to 10 and it will blow your windows out.

Q. How was working with a producer of Jim Sclavunos calibre? What did he bring to the LP?
Rupert Orton: Jim was great. We’re admirers of all the band he’s been in, especially The Cramps, Panther Burns, Sonic Youth, Teenage Jesus and, of course, Grindermand and The Bad Seeds. Jim helped give the sonic definition to the record we were looking for.

Q. How much of a progression do you think Burning Your House Down marks from your eponymous debut?
Rupert Orton: As I’ve mentioned there’s certainly a sonic progression but the arranging and song writing as also moved forward. It’s not all 12 bar rama lama but there’s still there if you want it.

Q. And how do you feel you’re coming along as a band since being discovered on 6 Music by Steve Lamacq? Does it feel like ‘a juggernaut-style’ ride so far?
Rupert Orton: Probably more like a runaway train and we’re all holding on for dear life! Steve’s support has been great and after he made an on air demand that Jack White offer a support slot it happened with The Dead Weather. But Marc Riley, Mark Lamarr & Lois Wilson from Mojo were all very early fans too.

Q. So, give us a quick history of the band – how did you all meet?
Rupert Orton: I’d been promoting Jim’s previous band at Black Moses at my club night, Not The Same Old Blues Crap, and we’d always have a chat about your shared love of untamed, primal rock ’n’ roll. When Black Moses split we decided to put The Jim Jones Revue together, which was in 2007.

The keyboard player, Elliot Mortimer, came through a recommendation from Ray Hanson, Thee Hypnotics guitar player – Jim’s first band. Nick Jones, the drummer, is a mate of mine who I’d played with in a previous band and we head hunted Gavin Jay from another band.

We got together and the first song we played was a cover of Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey by Little Richard and we pretty much knew we had something there and then, which was strange because usually it takes months, even years to find a sound.

A few days later a friend of ours who was putting on a new clubnight heard the rehearsal tape and offered us a show. Despite protesting we weren’t ready he cajoled us into doing it and it was a sold out success with everyone dancing on the tables going totally wild.

We then went on tour with Jon Spencer’s rockabilly band Heavy Trash and Guitar Wolf from Japan, and it’s been like a runaway train ever since. We released our first self titled album in September 2008, a single followed called Here To Save Your Soul in October 2009 and the latest album, Burning Your House Down in September 2010.

Q. And what do you intend to bring to the UK music scene?
Rupert Orton: Energy, excitement and volume!

Q. Coming back to the new album, what inspired a track like the current single High Horse?
Jim Jones: High Horse is a relationship song, it’s about taking back control, and also a twist on the Lee Dorsey classic: Ride Your Pony.

Q. And the volatile song Killin’ Spree?
Jim Jones: A song about taking the music back from the hands of corporate, media, taste makers, and an ideal of freeing the people from forced entertainment.

The Jim Jones Revue

Q. There’s nods to the current economic climate on Foghorn – can you talk a little about that song?
Jim Jones: Fog Horn is a stream of consciousness lyric, riffing on inward feelings about life and getting through.

Q. And another of our favourites, Righteous Wrong?
Jim Jones: Messing around with, and putting our own twist on the Screaming Jay Hawkins/early James Brown style love song.

Q. You seem to be firm advocates of the Elvis/True Romance line, ‘live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse’, especially on tracks like Shoot First. Is that an accurate assumption?
Jim Jones: That’s a great movie. There is always that sense of urgency to good Rock ‘n’ Roll. This song was aimed at dealing with the broader theme of ‘seize the day’ philosophy. We all know how easy it can be to overthink stuff and, as a result, completely miss out.

Q. Who are your musical inspirations?
Rupert Orton: Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Bunker Hill, MC5, The Stooges, The Ramones, The Birthday Party, The Cramps, The Gun Club, JSBX, RL Burnside, Grinderman, amongst many more….

Q. Piano plays just as much a part in your records as guitar – what do you like about both instruments so much?
Jim Jones: Piano and guitar are both important ingredients of the recipe. It wouldn’t rise without them. You have to use them in the right way though. There are an awful lot of different styles of guitar and piano out there, and I do mean awful!

Q. You seem to put so much energy into each song, how do you feel after a recording session and, similarly, a live show? Does it take it out of you?
Jim Jones: Yeah, it’s really hard work, but it’s also massively energizing. It can take quite a while to wind down sometimes.

Q. What are some of your favourite live memories so far?
Jim Jones: One time, we were on tour in France and got a call from Jack White who wanted us to play a show in London with The Dead Weather. We knew the travelling was gonna be a slog, but all agreed it would be worth it. After playing a show in Strasbourg, where we left in a hurry after the police arrived to arrest us for playing too loud, (what?). We then drove five hours through the night in heavy fog, slept at a motel, where (because it was so late) we had to climb through a third floor window to get the room keys!

Slept for two and a half hours, drove the rest of the way to the ferry and made it back to London for soundcheck at The Dead Weather show. Great show, met Jack White, cool. Next morning, back on the road to the ferry and back across to France and then down to Le Havre. By the time we went on it stage it was after midnight and we were physically and emotionally exhausted from the last two days, really spent.

But the crowd in Le Havre were so charged and crazy and into it, that they literally raised us from the dead. We played one of the best shows ever, I felt like my feet had levertated of the ground, such a good energy!

Q. What’s the greatest piece of advice or lesson you’ve learned in reaching this point to date?
Jim Jones: All my best advice is in the music if you listen right, but I will add this: Figure out what’s most important to you and stay focused. There are so many distractions, you need to keep in sight what it is that you’re trying to do.

Q. If you could cover any track, what would it be?
Jim Jones: Hey Hey Hey Hey – Little Richard. Done it !

Q. Finally, what are the 10 tracks that are never far from your iPod players at the moment?
Pepper Spray Boogie – the Compulsive Gamblers
Follow your Heart – the Paladins
I’m qualified – Dr John
Gudbuy T’ Jane – Slade
Shake Ya Ass – Mystikal
I Found a Love – The Falcons (featuring Wilson Pickett)
Cold Turkey – Big Boy Pete
18 Wheeler Fever – Scott H Biram
Orange Blossom Special – The Rousse Brothers
I Don’t Know What You’ve Got But It’s Got Me – Little Richard (featuring Jimi Hendrix)

Read our review of Burning Your House Down